The challenges of media workflow automation


Dave Clark TV-Bay Magazine
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The media workflow challenge has never been more complex, and it's growing. In response exploding consumer demand for high-quality, engaging programming, media operations are under the gun to create content and deliver it to an ever-growing range of platforms and devices. Managing video assets - that is finding them, accessing them, and using them efficiently and effectively - is one of the biggest barriers to success in today's environment.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the operational and content delivery challenges facing media operations and offer some suggestions on workflow design, including deployment of end-to-end systems for streamlining content creation, access, archiving, and reuse for monetization.

Institutional and Technical Barriers

Today's content processes must meet the needs of a range of users with varying requirements, from editors and producers to senior management and social media/marketing staff. Add to that the decentralized nature of today's production teams, with edit, audio, fx, and composition professionals often working from disperse locations. Even if a file is online and accessible, a team's inability to gain a clear view of its location or status creates chaos and adds stress. And of course, there's never enough time - with delivery cycles constantly shrinking and demand growing for efficiency and immediate turnaround.

In addition to working in a mixed environment of on-premise, cloud and hybrid systems and across the major platforms (OSX, Windows, and Linux), operators must juggle a plethora of codecs and containers, plus manage complex storage systems with combinations of fast-edit, slower online, LTO, cloud, and optical storage. Typically, storage is spread across the organization in disconnected silos and in many different types and configurations. Plus higher bit rates, 4K and 8K frame rates, and technologies such as high dynamic range (HDR) place a huge strain on storage resources.

Searching for and managing video assets can be incredibly time-consuming, and up to a third of all searches fail entirely. Adding to the challenge are proprietary and opaque file formats that can't be previewed easily in the operating system.

A New Mindset

Given these challenges, how do media companies adopt new and better workflows for accessing and managing media assets? One of the keys, of course, is a set of robust tools that are not only easy to deploy and use, but reflect and automate their own specific processes.

But first, you need to do a bit of soul-searching. Your organization needs to get as much clarity as possible on what its particular requirements are and what a tool or set of tools will bring to the table.

What is your end-to-end cycle for content assets? From shoot, secure, and screen to search and re-use, how does your organization need to work with content throughout this cycle? And what are the component parts and the resources you already have in-house, such as cameras, storage systems, archives, and asset management tools?

As you carefully design your workflow, it helps to draw it out and picture it visually. Plus to consider what are the people factors and organizational aspects. Do you need an in-house archivist? And what's the fine line between enforcing the workflow across a team and encouraging flexibility? How will you train your teams to get their maximum benefit from automated processes?

Finding the Tool

The answers to all of these questions will inform your selection of a media asset management (MAM) tool. Essentially, MAM solutions track content and manage its movement between storage tiers as the content progresses through every stage of pre-production, production, and postproduction.

Depending on the complexity of the organization, picking the right MAM tool also takes planning and research. We recommend considering the following factors when evaluating MAM solutions on the marketplace.

Ease of Use. Many MAM solutions offer a large array of tools and robust functionality, but they can be difficult to learn, use, and manage - and they have a price tag to match. The best MAM solutions offer just the right balance of power and ease of use, with the flexibility to adapt to customers' workflows.

Flexibility. Will the tool you deploy today be able to scale and adapt as your organization grows and changes? Will you be able to migrate your historic, manual workflows to the new automation system? Will the tool reflect and enforce your organization's own, specific requirements and work processes, or will you have to adapt the organization to the tool?

Interoperability. No workflow operates in a vacuum, and neither should any tool for automating the workflow. Does the MAM solution work and play well with every other system in the workflow, cameras, storage, archives, networking, mobile devices, DRM, social media, and delivery platforms?

Native Format Support. In a fast-paced, deadline-intensive production environment, the last thing people want is to have to take time out to transcode 50 hours of footage. Therefore, the MAM tool should be able to ingest and play out files in their native format, including content from professional video and even DLSR cameras.

Conclusion

When properly implemented, a MAM solution offers a true collaboration tool - empowering users from any location to view, share, and comment on the state of current assets such as dailies. Media organizations can save time and money by avoiding costly re-shoots and by re-using content, such as b-roll footage, in new productions, and they can even monetize the content for new revenue streams. By placing control of assets and their access in the hands of the content creators themselves, these tools offer a fundamental shift from traditional workflows in which production engineers would have configured and managed access to content. With a state-of-the-art MAM system, content creators have these same capabilities at their fingertips, in an easy-to-use package that saves time, lowers costs, and simplifies the access, re-use, and even monetization of valuable content assets.


Tags: iss126 | automation | workflow | cloud | on-premise | hybrid | mam | square box | Dave Clark
Submitted by Dave Clark

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Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics
Polar If you don’t recognise the name Peter Rowsell instantly you no doubt would recognise him in person, from the famous ‘Pink Coconut’ parties during IBC (Brighton) in the 80s or the name ‘Polar Video or Polar Graphics’ both companies which he’s built up over the years.
Tags: iss130 | polar graphics | apantac | bluefish | cinedeck | focalpoint | mediaproxy | stardom | storagedna | Polar
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NAB is all about people
John Smith -new The relative success of NAB is down to people. The individuals we meet, the relationships we make and renew with customers and the desire to work together to develop a technology solution to any given challenge.
Tags: iss130 | media links | nab | mdp 3020 | md8000 | John Smith -new
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Technological advances in the broadcast industry
Alan Wheable Since it is Omnitek’s 20th anniversary this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the technological advances in the broadcast industry over the last few decades and look at the similarities between then and now.
Tags: iss130 | omnitek | test and measurement | smpte 2110 | untra tq | 2022 | sdi 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
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Meet the experts: Six steps for award winning sound design
Chris Turner Few can argue that great sound design is one of the most important elements to any moving picture. Mute most horrors, and the difference in fear factor will be enormous. Visualize Jaws or Star Wars, and John Williams’s iconic score will instantly come to mind.
Tags: iss130 | jungle studios | fairlight | blackmagic design | davinci | Chris Turner
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Grand slam IPTV and digital signage platform
Joe Walsh Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Built in 1973, “The K” has a proud baseball legacy, and goes down in history for winning two World Series championship titles; one in 1985 and another in 2015 — exactly 20 years apart. The most recent win brought a resurgence of baseball fever to the stadium, hosting more than 2.7 million fans during its 2015 winning season.
Tags: iss130 | iptv | vitec | eztv | Joe Walsh
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TV Futures, Tales on Location
Georgia Thirtle If I think back to last May, I was just finishing my second year at the University of Portsmouth, studying Television and Broadcasting, and winding down for the summer. Then out of the blue I got a message from my course leader, saying I might be getting a call from someone who was a location manager working for Raider productions, you know, the production company behind the upcoming Tomb Raider film, I mean, what!?
Tags: iss130 | portsmouth university | tomb raider | cci tv | ccitv | Georgia Thirtle
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Transforming asset management and monetization
Chad Hamilton FremantleMedia is one of the largest global television-production companies in the world — with one of the biggest and most valuable catalogs. We operate in 36 markets, creating, producing, and distributing content across traditional TV and digital platforms at a rate of more than 10,000 hours of programming per year.
Tags: iss130 | freemantlemedia | core | wazee | Chad Hamilton
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Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
Jon Pratchett 2 The use of 360 video, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is really starting to take off. Gone are the days when you needed to buy multiple GoPros and rigs in order to get something decent looking. Now players like Insta360 and even GoPro with their fusion 360 camera are providing single camera, high quality solutions, enabling the masses to put out reasonable quality, certainly watchable, 360 video.
Tags: iss130 | vr | virtual reality | audio | ambiosonic | Jon Pratchett 2
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Why OTT needs multicast ABR
Damien Lucas Last year, Netflix’s global revenue reached $11 billion, with 24 million new names added to its subscribers’ list. Viewers are certainly making their preferences heard – and voting with their remote controls to show that over-the-top (OTT) content is here to stay.
Tags: iss130 | ott | abr | adaptive bit rate | cdn | dsl | lte | Damien Lucas
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State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Where she thought she was going to die. She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.

Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Tags: iss130 | alertsense | Dick Hobbs - new
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Steadicam M-1 Volt: Tried and Tested
John E Fry Early in November some of us lucky Steadicam Operators from around the UK were invited to try out the new Tiffen M1 Volt, which is essentially an electronic motorized horizon assist unit attached to the gimbal of the latest Steadicam M1. Is it a good idea? As experienced Steadicam Operators, directors or producers, why would we be interested? Let’s investigate KitPlus fans!
Tags: iss129 | steadicam | volt | tiffen | m1 | John E Fry
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A Pandoras Box to empower the filmmaker
KitPlus The setting was Celebro Studios London, home to their fully 4k television studios, where journalists and industry commentators gathered late last November to witness the launch of the revolutionary Rotolight Anova PRO 2. This was no ordinary unveiling though, the launch was streamed live on Facebook and YouTube and hosted by award winning news anchor man Martin Stanford with Wesley Dodd, CEO of Celebro Media Group and Rotolight MD Rod Gammons in the studio.
Tags: iss129 | rotolight | celebro | anova pro 2 | led | lighting | wesley dodd | rod gammons | KitPlus
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Playing with Pink Floyd
KitPlus For the founder of London-based Hangman, James Tonkin, this has indeed been a summer to remember. After sixteen years of working in the same suites, he designed and moved his team into a new future proofed facility in Kew Gardens created specifically for the manipulation and delivery of formats in up to 8K HDR.
Tags: iss129 | hangman | james tonkin | david gilmour | pink floyd | Sony F55 | Sony A7RII | RED Dragon | URSA Mini | blackmagic | DJI Drone | KitPlus
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Taking the lead in the HEVC and 4k revolution
Malcolm Harland There’s probably a good reason that BVE is held in late February — it offers you a few weeks to set your annual plans in place. Then, once you’ve decided on the opportunities you want to take advantage of and improvements you want to make, you have a chance to visit this massive exhibition to see the latest technological innovations that will help to bring your plans to fruition.
Tags: iss129 | garland | hevc | liveu | hc11000 | media excel | ntt | bws | lu600 | Malcolm Harland
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Somewhere down the latency river
Ben Hawker Some people have been, understandably, getting fairly excited over the prospect of being able to deploy wireless cameras to capture and transmit 4K UHD. Manufacturers and developers are closing in on the ability to deliver systems that will offer up almost endless creative options at the highest – to date – possible picture quality.
Tags: iss129 | latency | 4k | wireless | rf | presteigne | Ben Hawker
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State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new This morning I was eating my healthy muesli and idly listening to Radio 4 when someone came on who claimed to be from the Oxford University Computational Propaganda Project.
Tags: iss129 | fake news | facebook | tv globo | amagi | robot | ai | artificial intelligence | Dick Hobbs - new
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2018: A Changing of the Guard
Peter Savage 2 The guys at KitPlus asked me if I could write about what I think is going to happen in 2018 – a feel, or mood, piece of what we might see this year. I’m not sure why they asked me but perhaps it’s because I’ve been around the industry a long time. Anyway, to look forward I think sometimes it’s best to look back as history has a habit of repeating itself.
Tags: iss129 | azule | finance | Peter Savage 2
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IP for everyone and 4k everywhere - that will be 2018
John Smith -new My first prediction for the coming year is that the use of IP to move broadcast content will increase dramatically.  Ultimately, it will become the commonplace, just as the use of IP has become part of our everyday, consumer lives.  Live sports are closely linked to this growth, as conversion of broadcast signals for transportation across established telecos networks enables content to be viewed in real-time, regardless if it’s in the next room or across the globe.
Tags: iss129 | medialinks | 4k | ip | vr | ai | John Smith -new
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Panasonic GH5: Tried and Tested
Tim Bearder My journey as a filmmaker began with a select number of enthusiastic BBC reporters picked out and trained in the concept of Personal Digital Production by the American Video Journalist Michael Rosenblum.
Tags: iss129 | panasonic | gh5 | dslr | senheirser avx | c200 | Tim Bearder
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Epictech makes headway: A case study
Daniel Harker Barnes Founded in January 2014, EpicTech Media have been providing high end video production to companies and musicians across the U.K. for over three and a half years. When approached earlier this year by the band Bodkin Lane, we relished the challenge of producing a video of their charity concert, in aid of Headway (www.headway.org.uk), despite the challenging size of the venue. 
Tags: iss129 | polecam | epictech media | ptz | povcam | Daniel Harker Barnes
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Capturing the spirit of Mexico
Leonardo Dalessandri Filmmaker, director and editor, Leonardo Dalessandri first came to fame with his stunning video ‘Watchtower of Turkey,’ which with more than 200 million views, garnered the accolade of Best Vimeo Video in 2014. His vibrant images are combined with a unique editing style, incorporating slow motion, hyper lapses and invisible match cuts to produce genuinely breathtaking final results.
Tags: iss129 | watchtower of turkey | davinci resolve | blackmagic. corona | Leonardo Dalessandri
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Innovation in cameras moving to 4k
Tony Valentino For a number of reasons, wireless camera links needed time to migrate to 4K. However Broadcast Sports International, BSI, designs their own cameras and builds their own hardware and their transition to 4K is already complete.
Tags: iss129 | bsi | ref-cam | wireless | 4k | Tony Valentino
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Empowering connectivity choice in the field
Yvonne Monterroso Reliability, flexibility and ease of use are the key requirements when covering the news and live events, especially when the location could be anywhere. Connectivity is one of the biggest concerns in the field when the pressure is on to capture a key event – if you cannot establish a reliable transmission path to send your video back to the broadcast studio, there is no story.
Tags: iss129 | dejero | satellite | streaming | ku-band | cloud | Yvonne Monterroso
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TVFutures: Learning is the key
Abbie Neill If you asked me the question ‘where do you see yourself after you graduate’ three years ago I would have probably answered  ‘in a lot of debt, but if you don't think about it, it doesn't exist because three years is a long time right ?’. WRONG! These three years studying Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth have been the quickest three years of my life. Back when I started I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to specialise in and the dreaded four letter word AVID used to be my biggest enemy. However I persevered through the 3792871 hours of lectures learning how to use the software, how it functions, neither did I think I'd be a one woman match of the day by graduation'.
Tags: iss129 | ccitv | portsmouth | university | avid | Abbie Neill
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Canon C200: Tried and Tested
Ben Sherriff There are many reviews about this camera online and a heap of incredibly detailed comparison and behind the scenes footage that will really give you a full insight into what it can do. So first a disclaimer - this review is less detailed and based on my personal reading of what this camera means for Canon and all other camera manufacturers and us – the users of these technologies. So, what’s all the fuss about?
Tags: iss129 | spellbinder | canon | c200 | c100mkii | c300 | red | alexa | asx-r7 | Ben Sherriff
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The Outlook for 2018
Duncan Payne January has arrived…and the New Year promises great opportunities for those prepared to seek them out, with the one certainty that change is constant.
Tags: iss129 | adamantean | finance | cvp | netflix | amazon | arri | hdr | sadie groom | rise | Duncan Payne
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