NAB 2019: GrayMeta Turned Attendees’ Eyes to Iris, Curio Solutions

LAS VEGAS — GrayMeta used NAB to tout its latest Iris and Curio solutions, including Iris Cloud and a GrayMeta Curio extension for Adobe Creative Cloud.

“Our main focus at the show was Iris Media Solutions, including our Iris server products and our new product, Iris Cloud,” Gregory Cox, VP of Technical Product Solutions at GrayMeta, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) April 11, the last day of the show.

Iris Cloud is the latest addition to the company’s Iris Media Solutions and initial feedback to it was strong, Cox said.

As GrayMeta disclosed just ahead of the show, Iris Cloud was built to leverage all the benefits of the cloud and natively run in the cloud — making it accessible virtually anywhere in the world.

It’s a frame accurate quality control (QC)/quality assurance (QA) solution that enables QC and QA teams in studios, broadcast networks and media services providers to use many of the same validation features of Iris — only now in the cloud. After all, as more content libraries and workflows transition to the cloud, QC and QA processes follow. Using Iris Cloud, QC/QA operators working with video content stored in the cloud, such as video-on-demand (VOD) or repurposed assets, can do quick spot-checks or validations using a browser-based, intuitive interface, according to GrayMeta.

Operators can, therefore, be rest assured they have the correct content to make further edits or review before distribution without ever having to spend extra time or money to pull content out of cloud storage, the company said.

“Specific to Iris itself, we made a number of advancements as it relates to Dolby Vision and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) in general,” Cox told MESA at the show, noting that GrayMeta also supports Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and HDR10. “A lot of our clients are absolutely moving to those workflows,” he said, adding: “They’re looking for an economical tool that effectively gives them what they need, from both QC and QA perspectives. What I mean by that is, on one side, you have your heavy technical validation, which we consider QC. Then, assuming content has undergone technical QC, it goes through QA, which entails emulation of the end user experience for versioning or distribution workflows. Because we already provide a solution for QC, the need for a QA tool brought about the building of Iris Cloud.”

GrayMeta conducted some research and customers were asking how they could use Iris in the cloud, he pointed out. But there were issues that had to be considered if the company was to provide such a solution, he said, explaining: “We recognized that there were a number of different technical challenges because it definitely uses a lot of horsepower. So, we wanted to figure out what types of content customers are working with in the cloud. We determined that a lot of the assets sitting in cloud storage are, in fact, repurposed assets and VOD assets that simply need QA rather than heavy technical QC. So, we felt that we could fill that niche with Iris Cloud.”

Explaining further, Cox told MESA: “Today, in a number of different workflows, you may have 30 different versions of the same piece of content. So, the idea there is: Which one am I looking at? Which one am I pulling in? Which one am I going to work with in my workflow? Iris Cloud allows you to pull that content in and validate that you have the right content. You can look at it [and] you will see the technical metadata as it relates to that content, so that you can make sure that it’s technically sound. But then you have some other visualizations for audio [so] you can make sure that works. You have visualizations for checking captions and so forth … . It suffices for those workflows that maybe only have a check at the beginning, a check in the middle and a check at the end.”

Several broadcasters approached GrayMeta requesting help, he said, pointing to one major client who had more than “125,000 assets dating back to 1967 sitting in the cloud.” So, GrayMeta provided that customer with a “solution where they can actually pull that content back, see what it is and create the metadata for them automatically,” he said.

“One of the biggest market trends that we’re seeing… is the fact that a lot of our customers are looking to emulate what their end users are seeing in the home,” he went on to say, telling MESA: “Everyone has a workflow to do technical QC. But they’re also trying to set up distribution monitors in suites to look at the distribution path and make sure that through all of the file movement, the viewing experience is what the customer expects. I would say probably in the last four months there’s been a major uptick in customers wanting to do that. A lot of broadcasters are now outfitting QC/QA suites with Iris in order to achieve that goal.”

From speaking with several clients, it appears that over-the-top (OTT) partners like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are once again “pushing the envelope and kind of forcing broadcasters to do it,” he said.

In the past, there “was no true opportunity for broadcasters when going from SD to HD — they didn’t make money doing that [and] they were reluctant to do the HD to 4K transition” also, he said. But he noted: “With OTT, there’s more opportunity because we’re seeing more and more broadcast content actually on these platforms, so there’s a new avenue of delivery for them and ultimately they want to make sure that the end user has a great in-home experience.”

Cox also pointed to a deal with fellow MESA member BeBop Technology that was announced during NAB under which Iris Media Solutions are now available on BeBop’s cloud platform.

BeBop is “taking Iris and virtualizing it in their environment,” Cox said, explaining that’s enabling BeBop clients to, in turn, use Iris in their environments as well. GrayMeta “worked out a subscription model, whereby you can actually buy monthly licenses for Iris and use them in the BeBop platform, which is a powerful, secure platform that provides all the analytics that you might need,” he said.

On the Curio front, the newly released GrayMeta Curio extension for Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) provides functionality enabling users to streamline content creation within additional CC applications including Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. The extension enables users to find content faster and more efficiently than ever, by leveraging deep insights created by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – enabling them to quickly find the content they need, including specific people, objects, logos, brands, locations/landmarks and more, Adobe and GrayMeta said.

GrayMeta’s overall Curio solution — connecting all cloud and on-premise storage locations via one interface, with built-in AI and ML — took center stage during its presentation on the MESA digital asset management (DAM) tour at NAB April 9.

GrayMeta showed how crucial automated metadata collection can prove to be. GrayMeta Curio helps companies create, extract and store intelligent metadata, allowing for expanded searchability across applications.

GrayMeta, with all of its various tools, is “absolutely looking to be the industry leader in our areas of expertise: Content harvesting, metadata creation, metadata tagging and continuing to build our own machine learning services,” Cox told MESA.

The company is, meanwhile, “building new products [including] Iris Cloud and we are pushing forward and building out new technologies in our Iris Media Solutions for on-prem,” he noted, adding: “We’re really looking to connect all of those tools to make our customers’ lives easy. And, in many cases, we’ll have meetings whereby customers that are interested in Curio, we find that they actually also have a need for Iris and vice versa. We’ve had many meetings this year whereby we’re talking about Iris and validating content and the talk of metadata still comes up and so it’s been very, very interesting. It’s exciting for us to see that our customers can actually leverage the whole suite of products that we have to offer.”

Also at NAB:

Digital Bedrock Branches Out

In its third year at NAB, Digital Bedrock saw increased interest in its services, according to Linda Tadic, the company’s CEO and founder. Unlike last year, visitors stopping by the company’s booth this time were usually making “targeted visits” and were “people who had us on their list,” she told MESA April 10.

Although many Digital Bedrock customers are members of the media and entertainment sector, the company’s also seeing interest from an increased number of industries, she said, noting somebody from the government defense sector stopped by earlier that day. The appeal for that person was how Digital Bedrock deals with “unstructured metadata and how secure it is,” and also – “ironically” amid all the growing interest in cloud services – the fact that Digital Bedrock is “off-cloud,” she said.

During MESA’s digital asset management (DAM) Tour at NAB April 8, Tadic told attendees how her company’s managed, secure data preservation services intelligently preserve big data, combining object storage methodologies to unstructured data while securely storing assets offline. She pointed out to Dam Tour attendees that keeping digital content usable is a complex and ongoing process, and “‘store and ignore’ is not an option.” (https://www.mesaonline.org/2019/04/11/nab-2019-mesa-members-tout-latest-digital-asset-management-tech-on-dam-tour/)

Participating in the tour was a big success for Digital Bedrock and “gave a lot of visibility” to the company, she said, pointing to the fact that one person who took the tour stopped by the booth the next morning and “sat down for like an hour” to talk.

The company is offering a secure, fast direct connection to major cloud storage providers now, enabling clients’ data to also be pushed to and from their cloud storage provider, she noted ahead of NAB, adding: “Clients get the best of both worlds: managed, secure offline preservation with immediate access to files through their cloud storage.”

A Clear View at Sohonet

Sohonet’s “main focus” was clearly on its ClearView Flex platform at NAB 2019, where Dennis Rose, chief revenue officer at the company, told MESA that feedback about the service continued to be strong.

“Even though we introduced ClearView Flex in 2016, last year we were still very much in education mode,” he said April 10 at the show, adding: “What’s happened this year is people are coming in and either they have it [and] they’re interested in new features or they have come across it in” their segments of the industry, including people who create movie trailers, and are interested in giving it a try.

The new features include functionality that gives “more empowerment to users for configuring” what the identification burn-ins are for security, he said.

ClearView Flex “allows people who are in the film and TV industry – typically editors, producers, directors and colorists – to work remotely,” wherever they may be working on a project, he noted. Those key creative people and production executives can review and approve live, encrypted video streams from any source remotely from their computers or mobile devices, the company pointed out ahead of the show.

“The whole objective is to allow people to work together to compress project completion cycles, but to do it securely and to do it in real-time,” Rose told MESA at the show, pointing out that the real-time capability is “really what distinguishes ClearView Flex from other similar offerings on the market.”

Earlier in the show, during MESA’s digital asset management (DAM) Tour April 8, Drew Law, Sohonet customer success manager, spotlighted the real-time creative collaboration capability provided by ClearView Flex. He demonstrated during the DAM Tour how – whether you’re looking to review dailies, remote color grade or view live feeds direct from the camera — ClearView Flex provides you with the security and flexibility to collaborate with your teams remotely and in real-time, from anywhere in the world and on any device.