This feature starts a series on digital media asset management software revealing what MAM
system applications are doing for facilities with growing quantities of content, and how to get
a system started.
|Several packages available now are aimed specifically at broadcast and media production facilities, and each feature in this series will cover one of these products. Upcoming articles will cover Extensis Total Control, Avid Interplay and Southpaw TACTIC, all with experiences and comments from content producers. Meanwhile, a MAM system in the cloud is now under construction at MV8 Media for the Australian NRL, based on the Dalet Enterprise Edition platform.
Finding and Using Assets
Media and digital asset management software was made to manage distribute digital assets - images, documents, created files, audio and video, not only storing them centrally but retrieving and distributing them from large collections. Facilities use the software to find files, to find out what they are and what is held in a collection and, consequently, avoid any content in the system from gong to waste.
|One of the main reasons for adopting a MAM system is to cut costs through the efficiency arising from being able to find out readily what is available – that is, from saving time, and from people having the files they need for their work. Also, knowing and exposing what you have potentially creates new avenues for revenue, and having control and access to all files makes it possible to establish brand consistency, and improve or customise customer service.
The person setting up the MAM system has the opportunity to control aspects of the way the system works such as access to the right users at the right time, file sizes and how the assets are used and re-used. When everyone and every project in an organisation accesses the files through the system, files will not have to be re-created locally, which leads to inconsistencies in usage and from the existence of old versions.
Richard Bamford, a business director at Extensis developers of Total Control software, suggested several questions an organisation could benefit from asking when they start building a MAM system. “The people involved – users and administrators - need to identify problems they are trying to solve, how they want to use the software, and how they are going to integrate the procedures into their daily routine. They need to evaluate how they are working with assets and what they would like the system to do for them,” he said.
“To do that properly you have to involve potential users, especially the IT department who will be working with the server, and the people controlling the budget. You also need an inventory to show the scope of what you have now, and will have in the near future.”
Metadata generally conforms to a standard schema, defined to use across all files. The schema represents a compilation of your metadata, and can and should be very customised because it is an opportunity to make the system really useful inside the organisation. Prioritise it by asking what your teams want to be able to search on - what factors are critical, what is convenient, what is only of occasional interest.
Kicking Off with NRL
MV8 Media in Sydney builds cloud-based MAM systems based on Enterprise Edition for broadcast and production facilities, from media ingest and digitising through asset migration, storage, archiving and managing. MV8 Media have taken on a large cloud-based archiving and media management contract for Australia’s NRL.
|MV8 Media is digitising, ingesting and creating one central source of NRL footage which will serve as their main library, stored and accessed in the cloud. The system is managing over 13,000 hours of digitised footage - including the last two years of games - in HD and will be used to preserve the history of the game and as a production resource for programmes needing game footage. Each current season includes all premiership rounds, the Toyota Cup series, finals, grand final and State of Origin.
MV8 Media MD Gareth Collins said, “The total number of games in 2011 came to 269 – that’s a lot of footage. MV8 Media also have archive footage going back to 1920 which we will be digitising and ingesting into this system. While not all of the games are complete and some footage is highlight reels from years gone by, the NRL is progressively investing in digitising over 13,000 hours of footage that is currently on tape and film. All of this will then be instantly accessible to them from the cloud via our MAM service.”
MV8 is using Dalet Enterprise software, outlined below, a system with strong metadata capabilities. MV8 has successfully imported metadata from a variety of sources, constructing and using import forms if necessary. Once in place, the metadata will persist in any subclips supplied to customers. MV8 has also used Dalet’s workflow engine to automate media movements and metadata input.
Apart from improving efficiency and lowering the costs of accessing and distributing their footage and training staff to use the system, perhaps the NRL’s most interesting goal for the MAM over the longer term is developing new revenue streams. In October 2012, the rights to the NRL’s footage are expected to become renewable, which would give the organisation the chance to be more proactive and innovative about its use and distribution.
To allow them to do this, MV8 will be standardising file delivery types and methods. Editors will have proxy-based access to the material and work via EDL for as long as possible in their process. Then when the high resolution images are required, they can select it in file types to suit their workflows. This flexibility would also allow the NRL to set up fan access sites with automated delivery.
|Expanding their footprint in the cloud data centre will be another useful option for the NRL. MV8’s cloud storage capacity is ‘elastic’, as Gareth calls it, and comes with services such as handling input and output operations in real time, in broadcast sizes and formatting. Any need for straightforward holding of data could be outsourced.
Quality control has been set up using Interra software. However, moving forward, MV8 can circumvent quality control as a separate step, using file-based, on-going QC at the front end of broadcast closer to the DP, who can plan ahead to improve production values. www.mv8media.com www.nrl.com
Dalet Asset Management Platform
Dalet Enterprise Edition is a flexible, scalable enterprise media asset management platform used to combine different production workflows, multiple formats and existing systems into a managed environment. The built-in tools are customised for production and distribution of sports, news, archives and entertainment programming.
Enterprise Edition can also work as a base for incorporating other systems and software for more customisation. It has SOA-compliant, Web Services APIs and various exchange methods to handle media and data movement, with lifecycle metadata tracking.
The platform is made up of IT and broadcast systems, and has both a user environment, with specialized tools, and methods to store, reference and share media. A user can design workflows to integrate a company’s business with its broadcast systems.
The Enterprise MAM is scalable and configurable with a distributed architecture, and intended to add value to assets by unifiying the content and metadata from system to system, and by making it easier to access and search for use on different platforms.
|The Dalet Enterprise Edition architecture uses open IT standards and IT infrastructure, avoiding proprietary equipment, in order to make it easier to integrate into an IT environment and maintain. Customers choose their own components such as application servers, network, online and nearline storage.
The multimedia content catalogue in Enterprise has indexing and search tools. It is used to manage media, the essence files and metadata across the organization, storing and tracking sets of associated multimedia by context, along with metadata including time-coded locators. Access is via either Dalet tools or third party business or broadcast systems.
Metadata collection can be automated or done manually. Through the system’s workflow engine, which handles user tasks and media services, users are presented with contextual forms to fill in manually with cataloguing data, editorial information and multimedia content such as associated thumbnails or assets. Otherwise, indexing tools can generate various automatic metadata. Metadata can also be gathered, tracked and exchanged with third party systems, in newsrooms or post production, for example, if outside users need to input metadata.
Unlimited contextual metadata fields, configurable by type of content and users, store diverse information such as broadcast rights, associated images and web links. Specific fields can be configured to support distribution. To enforce accurate input, fields can be connected to glossaries.
The Dalet workflow engine coordinates employee tasks and back office processes like assignments, priority, notifications, metadata entry or sequenced tasks – from inside Dalet or externally – into workflows. It also automates background processes such as transcoding and media movement from archives required, for example, for multiplatform publication, versioning for different languages, broadcast, VOD, streaming and mobile.
Because it is built on open standards, a Service Oriented Architecture and several broadcast and IT data exchange protocols, Dalet Enterprise Edition integrates multiple systems, to avoid repetition of similar tasks and to share data. This means real-time metadata can link to financial systems for business monitoring, and connections to third party systems can be established through the built-in Web Services APIs, broadcast or third party protocols, or standard file-based exchanges. Typical integrations are Web portals and intranet, storage and archive systems, video servers and routers, multi channel automation. Production, publishing and metadata systems are others.
The next feature in this series focuses on the Extensis Total Control system, now in use at 50 Kaliber video production company in Melbourne.