No Vegas, But for Asset Management Specialists the Show Goes On
This week, digital and media asset management specialists (DAM and MAM) would be hosting dozens of media executives and entertainment specialists in guided tours of their products on the NAB Show floor, as part of the annual Take the DAM(n) Tour events.
Instead, on April 15-16, 17 companies held those events as live e-tours … and brought in more than triple the audience they would have garnered in Las Vegas.
On both days, the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), with Mary Yurkovic, director of Smart Content for MESA, guiding pre-registered attendees through a review of each company’s capabilities, discussing challenges and current trends in the asset management space.
Here’s a brief look at what each company presented:
With so many new (and powerful) entrants into the content distribution market, Dan Meyer, sales manager for BeBanjo, sees one of the main issues confronting those in the content business as the ability to be nimble, agile and adapt to the changing market.
“The one solution to this is having good operational tools, to give you the control, the visibility, and productivity you need,” he said. “It’s very clear that plans, schedules and rights cause huge headaches.”
One BeBanjo broadcast customer has more than 500,000 titles in its catalog. That means hundreds of millions of rights positions and scheduling decisions that need to be overseen, across all business models (AVOD, linear, SVOD, non-linear and TVOD), and a couple hundred-plus territories. Factory in differently edited versions of content, and you’re looking at a billions of individual content decisions that are in play, Meyer said.
Now imagine all of that being simple.
“With a modern solution like ours, they’re able to do this very effectively,” he said. BeBanjo’s platform helps large media providers gain complete control, visibility and productivity to video distribution, at scale. “We build SaaS products for some of the world’s largest media companies … to help with the planning.” Metadata, rights and associated workflows around distribution are all covered as well. “And [our products] are built with easy-to-use UIs.”
Prime Focus Technologies
For more than a decade now, Prime Focus Technologies’ (PFT) CLEAR SaaS offering has been automating the content supply chain, offering an embedded MAM functionality, workflow management, and automation tools that make content owners’ jobs easier.
And with the current pandemic, Rohan Warey, director of pre-sales for PFT, sees even more need for the expediency of SaaS collaboration suites like the CLEAR Production Cloud, which gives content creators control of assets, from pre-production prep files, schedules, scripts and test shots, to production dailies, post-production cuts and final versions.
“Our view of the future of the production supply chain is the ability to offer it all,” he said, pointing out how CLEAR can manage dailies, post workflows, VFX workflows, distribution and archive management.
Currently, there are more than 40,000 users on the CLEAR platform, collectively handling 40 petabytes of data, 10,000 uploaded assets daily, and managing content and workflows across 220 multi-cloud locations. Roughly half of primetime scripted network TV looks to Clear, Warey said.
An Apple TV app, a next-generation HTML5 player, one-click share and support for mezzanine content are all new CLEAR features clients can take advantage of, he added.
Patrick McCarthy, platform data specialist for Meta Data Systems, walked TTDT attendees through the benefits of his company’s content metadata platform, which enables the storage of identification, editorial, technical, rights, discovery, and AI-generated content metadata for media and entertainment catalogs.
“It allows companies to enrich the metadata of their catalogs, automatically process and generate attributes for down-stream platforms,” he said.
Meta’s offering for the front-end to the modern supply chain provides a platform-agnostic user Interface for any modern component-based asset management system, allowing for the creation of tasks along the lines of creating placeholders, assigning IDs, and triggering workflows for AI service orchestration.
Meta’s solution extracts relevant technical, language and component metadata, and allows for an intuitive, single front-end for the supply chain, McCarthy said. “It’s continually updated, making it, effectively, a single source of truth” for DAM needs, he added.
Veritone’s senior sales engineer Garron Bateman put it very simply: the only way to ensure you’re making the most of your content is by using highly accurate, structured data. If you’re going to meet consumer needs for personalized content delivery, you need every possible insight into how that content will perform.
That’s where Veritone’s Digital Media Hub offering — an intuitive web portal allowing for secure, cloud-native global access to content for key stakeholders, including news media and corporate partners — comes into play. The customizable service provides tailored, broadcast-quality content — including trailers, highlights, press conferences and still images —for immediate distribution.
“We offer the ability to not only index your content with our system, but any MAM provider you choose to use,” Bateman said.
Veritone prides itself on Digital Media Hub being a white-label, AI-powered solution that offers users the ability to reduce manual tasks, boost editorial collaboration, centralize media workflows, and rapidly deliver content.
“We’ve had great success partnering with many in media and entertainment,” Bateman said. “Simple to deploy, easy to use and a purpose-built user interface.”
Cloud computing has enabled live streaming and VOD platforms at a major scale. But the end-to-end production, video editing and post workflows behind it have yet to do the same in any large-scale way.
That’s where EditShare is coming into the scene in a big way, according to company CTO Stephen Tallamy.
“The core thing we’re trying to do all the time is simplify the process of storytelling,” he said. “It’s a complex business, getting media around, high-resolution video, asset management, collaboration, remote workflows. We make the technology invisible to [do that].”
Simplifying the migration of production and post-production workflows into the cloud is EditShare’s mantra, and the company does so with its EFS (software-defined media engineered storage) Flow (media management for collaborative editorial and remote productions) solutions.
“The core benefits of EFS and Flow is all about facilitating collaborative media workflows, make sure people can to use what tools they need within that environment,” he said.
Tape Ark has a pretty apt motto: they exist to liberate the world’s largest collections of data. And they do it well, if The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is any indication.
Faced with the challenge of preserving video content stored on old, decaying tape media and an obsolescent infrastructure, the archives of Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame looked to Tape Ark to provide a centralized digital media repository, one capable of handling multiple assets with varying taxonomies and metadata structures, and a highly configurable user access.
Tape Ark, with their partner Seagate, safely restored more than 2,800 hours (or 350 TB) of preservation-level video files for the Hall’s Library of Archives, ingesting the content into the public cloud. And during that process, they even discovered 109 preservation level videos that the Hall itself didn’t even know existed.
“What we’ve built is an IoT-based system that’s unlike any other out there, that allows us to add more drives as the job requires it, and scale up to parallel process,” said Kyle Evans, director of sales and business development for Tape Ark. “That allows us mass-migrate large collections that are thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of tapes.”
Bart Van Daele, product manager for Synamedia, missed out on wearing his lanyard and badge for the NAB Show in las Vegas. But he didn’t miss out on showing off his company’s Digital Content Manager offering.
“We deliver, in a nutshell, video glass to glass, from camera to TV or mobile devices,” he said.
The company’s solutions enable media, web and pay TV providers the ability to discover new revenue by securely delivering video on a converged media infrastructure in any codec over any network. Synamedia’s offering enables 8K live encoding, with bandwidth efficiency optimizations for streaming, cloud-native encoders, and the application of ML and AI to further optimize codecs.
Customers are facing a constant challenge of delivering the best video quality possible on every screen, with as little latency as possible, and doing so at scale, he said. Synamedia’s solution takes care of all of that.
“Software-centric approaches help a lot, allows us to add scalability in an efficient way,” he said.
If you’re looking for a perfect companion to your DAM solution for media and entertainment, look no further than Signiant’s Media Shuttle product, a fully enterprise-ready solution already being used by some of the world’s largest companies to handle valuable content.
“Our cloud-native SaaS platform is MAM/DAM adjacent, and is paired up to help deliver files,” said Signiant’s Mike Nash, director of product management. “Often our media customers use Media Shuttle for workloads inside MAMs, and it’s easy for non-technical staff to manage. They don’t want to become file-movement specialists.”
With more than 500,000 worldwide users, 25,000-plus businesses connected across 215 countries, accounting for 7,000-plus brand portals, where Media Shuttle today is standing out is its importance for those involved in remote collaboration, Nash said.
“It’s the de facto standard for large-file movement,” he said.
Caring touted its software-defined object storage solutions including version 11 of its Swarm Object Storage Software and provided a preview of upcoming 2020 products.
The company has achieved more than 500 deployments of its solutions since starting in 2005, including Disney Streaming Services and Fox Sports, according to Ryan Meek, principal solutions architect at Caringo, who noted he joined Caringo as an engineer in 2006.
Meek highlighted some of the enhancements that were added in Swarm 11, including the ability to reduce time to last byte with partial file restore and clipping.
Of the new 2020 products that Caringo will be announcing April 23, he said: “We always like to emphasize the ease of use.”
Security is always an important issue for media and entertainment companies. That is the case “especially these days when so many people are working from home and they might not have secure home networks and yet they still have to connect to get access to their assets,” according to CEO Linda Tadic.
With so many people working remotely from home now, this is “a great opportunity for those files to get hacked,” she warned.
Keeping digital content usable, meanwhile, is a complex and ongoing process, she said, noting that Digital Bedrock provides secure, trusted digital preservation that represents an insurance policy for an organization’s valuable assets.
Although the company specializes in audio and video content, and most of its clients are in the media and entertainment space, Digital Bedrock also has clients in other sectors, including museums, and it handles any format and content type, according to Tadic.
“We have about 13 million files in our system right now that we’re managing … [and] we know where everything is,” she said, adding Digital Bedrock was issued a patent in March for the algorithm used in its Digital Object Obsolescence Database (DOOD).
Eluvio CEO and co-founder Michelle Munson touted her company’s new Content Fabric, an open high-performance software network for managing and distributing large-form content, including video, live and on-demand to consumers and business partners without content delivery networks (CDNs).
The solution enables content owners to deliver ultra-low latency, high-quality video content, while also reducing their reliance on complex and costly transcoding services, cloud storage providers and aggregators, according to the company.
“We’re in an unusual time,” Munson said. “And there is a need in many respects to have a dramatically accelerated supply chain and particularly to be able to get direct to consumer with content,” she noted.
Content Fabric eliminates the need for organizations to create additional copies of files used in distribution networks or storage facilities by using a novel representation of media and data protocol implemented in a blockchain network, according to Eluvio.
The company is collaborating with multiple content providers to refine features in the platform, it said. For example, Munson noted that MGM Studios is using the Eluvio Content Fabric for global streaming of certain properties. Fox, meanwhile, is using it for multiple projects now, she said.
“The current situation” with the COVID-19 crisis “accelerated peoples’ attention to approaches like this and so we have seen a dramatic uptick in the companies working with us on new properties and experiences,” she went on to say, adding: “In a way… one of the positive byproducts of the challenging time like this is people are interested in how to do it better, faster and cheaper… . At first blush, it sounds very radical and then they start to use it… the main reaction is ‘oh, this is really easy, and we want to put more properties on it.’”
Iris Cloud, which GrayMeta showcased at NAB Show last year, is “launching in mid-May,” company president Josh Wiggins, said, noting “we have a number of customers using it” already.
As the company said when introducing it, Iris Cloud is the latest addition to the company’s Iris Media Solutions line and 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.
Iris Cloud can run in an on-premises environment, can connect to your Media Asset Management (MAM) system and can run in the cloud, Wiggins said. Added advantages include its “low latency and low bandwidth,” he said, noting the company is also integrating machine learning into it and it “will play back master files from the browser in the web.” The product is “going to be very valuable, especially given the working remote challenges we have right now,” he said.
GrayMeta, meanwhile, remains “very heavily focused on metadata and providing solutions around digital assets” — not just video, but also documents, emails, images and “assets that are sitting around the organization,” he said at the start of the presentation.
“Not everyone realizes this about GrayMeta, but we have a lot of clients around the world where we’re digitizing tapes — videotapes,” he pointed out, adding it also, for the past four years, has been “leveraging machine learning” and artificial intelligence (AI) services that create metadata for organizations.
Noting the company is five years old this month (April 2020), he said GrayMeta now has about 120 customers in 20 countries. The company has also expanded outside media and entertainment into museums, government entities and “started to work with some commercial manufacturers,” he said, adding it is in nine market segments now. “Our customers have media in their business but that may not be their business” now, he noted.
“We found that there were lots of silos of initiatives and projects that were out there, so we wanted to create a platform where we get involved early on in production and creative with master file QC all the way through to search and discovery, and kind of customer and fan engagement, and we’re starting to do a lot more work around using this metadata to drive better business intelligence.
Sohonet’s ClearView Flex is another product offering spotlighted during the virtual Take the Dam(n) Tour event online that fits right in with the growing demand for remote capabilities.
The service enables real-time creative collaboration on editing, video effects and content production from any location, on any device, according to the company.
“In terms of digital asset management, the biggest problem people have working from home right this minute is your creative artists,” according to Sohonet CEO Chuck Parker. “That can be an editor, that can be a colorist, that can be somebody who is in digital effects — somebody who’s touching the magic of the content,” he said.
And, as a result, “it’s difficult for them to access the asset management capability,” he said, noting “you may have a well-suited asset management tool that allows them to do the creative work, and click publish and it goes into the system.”
However, “most workflows in other industries don’t work that way, and what you’re finding right now is people are struggling” to share, he said.
Michael Potts, senior director of customer success at Sony, highlighted the company’s Ci cloud-based system that runs on top of Amazon Web Services.
The unified solution for the networked organization is a “very collaborative platform” that uses AI for speech-to-text and some object recognition, he said. Other features include smart clipping and live stream capture.
“We are in a very disconnected environment right now,” he said, adding: “This is a time where we’re all seeing very quickly that we need to pool together the resources that sometimes don’t always communicate with each other. That might be a manual process. That might be a process by which you have automated in the past but now you’re realizing that that was in a local environment. Being cloud-based allows us to pull all these things together and allow for acquiring content, editorial, broadcast, distribution, cataloging and inventory of that content – all these things and the collaboration it takes to create those things are now pulling together in a single platform.”
New functionality for Ci Catalog includes enterprise asset management and a bring your own storage option, he said.
Ian Main, technical marketing principal at Teradici, highlighted his company’s Cloud Access Software, which he said is solving some of the challenges in the media and entertainment industry.
“We’re all constrained to our various home environments” now amid the pandemic and Cloud Access Software enables working from home, he noted.
“We’ve been really busy the last few weeks getting all our studios and other customers working from home,” he said.
“Users, instead of having to have VPN connections – which, if you speak to IT, are really cumbersome — there’s licensing, there’s performance issues especially when you have many VPNs going through gateways,” Main said. “All these users can actually just be accessing their desktops or their virtual workstations across the public Internet as if these machines were under their desk,” he pointed out.
Teradici is offering special three-month subscriptions to its Cloud Access Software to support remote work and business continuity requirements as part of a temporary offer available through June 30, he also said.
“Next year at NAB, we’re back in person — that’s what I’m hoping for,” Main said.
Tom McDonough, senior manager of solution delivery at Vistex, spotlighted the “four pillars” of his company’s offerings that help its customers address some of the challenges they face today.
The company is focused on contract management, content management, sales and avails, and finance and accounting, he noted.
The major trends in media today include the increased number of “’new’ content providers [that] are coming onto the scene” that includes some new players entirely, including Quibi, as well as established companies that have branched out to become content providers, he said.
It’s a “much faster supply chain than it’s ever been before” as streaming has taken center stage and time to market has shrunk as content is delivered across more devices and platforms, he said. For media companies, vertical integration is the order of the day as they produce their own content and distribute that content direct to consumers, according to Vistex.
Media companies are “pulling up the drawbridge” when it comes to content, with each producing its own supply for their own home-built streaming services, McDonough said.
We also have “some supply chain struggles” today as increased streaming services have created demand for more content and the supply chain struggles to keep up, he said. Legacy studios, meanwhile, are turning to their libraries “to fill the gap” as productions have been shutting down, he added.
Media companies now are “really siloing themselves into a situation where they need to use their own content to support their own streaming service, and we’re seeing that more and more happening now,” he noted.
In the process, the number of challenges has grown significantly, he went on to say, noting some of those challenges include rights not being tracked efficiently and streaming delivery requiring a much faster supply chain process, he said.
Whip Media Group
Mike Sid, chief strategy officer at Whip Media Group, touted the company’s Content Value Management (CVM) platform and how it helps film studios and broadcasters manage distribution.
There are “three key elements” to the company’s approach for maximizing content value: finding the right content; optimizing deals; and driving frictionless distribution, he said. And it does that via solutions that include CVM Insights, CVM VOD, CVM Digital Sales and CVM Finance, he noted.
Broadcasters and studios have been using it for several years, he said, noting CVM helps CBS Interactive to understand consumer engagement with talent and shows; Disney to plan and communicate content schedules; Warner Bros. to track how content performs; NBCUniversal to refine how content is marketed; AT&T to manage and orchestrate content assets; and Liberty Global to automatically calculate and settle content fees, he said.
Studios, operators, broadcasters and over-the-top (OTT) platforms all depend on Whip Media, he said.