Broadcasters are dealing with greater volumes and types of content all the time – meaning ‘shopping lists’ for media asset management systems are becoming increasingly precise

Primestream mediaio desktop photo

Primestream: Media IO

It’s now more than 20 years since Bill Gates famously declared that ‘content is king’. But not even this prescient individual could have foreseen the mind-blowing volumes of content now flowing through media organisations globally – minute by minute, hour after hour.

The ‘perpetual now’ in which broadcasters operate means that they require access to as much of their content, from whatever time and place, in as quick and orderly a fashion as possible. Consequently, their media asset management (MAM) systems have never been more fundamental to their operational success, with evermore sophisticated, searchable metadata providing the key to unlocking this much-needed flexibility.

Esther Mesas Tedial

Esther Mesas, Tedial

New services have financial implications, so it’s no surprise to discover that there is a general consensus in support of the view – expressed by Tedial CSO and CMO Esther Mesas – that “MAM providers should offer agile solutions that can adapt quickly to the customers’ need and evolving business models, from CAPEX to OPEX, built on micro-services.”

As we shall see, much of this agility depends upon broadcasters and service providers collaborating closely in the areas of asset optimisation and centralisation, with artificial intelligence (AI) certain to play an increasingly critical role.

Better content, faster
All vendors who contributed to this article concurred with the importance of empowering broadcasters to handle more content from a wider variety of sources. As Primestream director of marketing Robert Lisman remarks, this often means that broadcasters are “grappling with their entire range of media workflows, including storage cost overruns.” Factors affecting broadcasters tend to include “unstructured, inflexible asset organisation, inefficient archive and restore workflows, fractured workflows, isolated post-production environments, lack of quality metadata on assets, and problems unique to their business that were ignored by ‘out of the box’ solutions.”

There has never been a more pressing demand for the ability to efficiently catalogue video assets.” Robert Lisman, Primestream

Primestream Robert Headshot

Robert Lisman, Primestream

Seeking to make dynamic asset management ‘simple and powerful’, Primestream has evolved a suite of products that includes (among others) solutions for automating the tagging of metadata with AI-based workflows and the cataloguing of assets with AI.

“There has never been a more pressing demand for the ability to efficiently catalogue video assets, with this type of storage data expected to grow,” says Lisman. With this in mind, Primestream’s latest set of APIs have been integrated with AI platforms, allowing media assets inside the Primestream MAM to be enriched with facial and object recognition features, speech-to-text transcription and sentiment analysis. These new features allow for better content to be found faster.”

Enriching content metadata
Dalet is another MAM vendor now seeking to extend its deployment of AI. To this end, an AI extension was added to the latest version of the Dalet Galaxy MAM production platform, Dalet Galaxy five, which was introduced in 2018. The extension, known as Dalet Media Cortex, makes it possible to “enrich both your content metadata and also facilitate your workflows as a journalist – for example, by recommending content that is relevant to your production tasks,” says Kevin Savina, director of product strategy at Dalet.

Dalet Kevin

Kevin Savina, Dalet

With its particular appeal to news and current affairs programming, Galaxy five also evinces considerable attention to changing patterns of news production. “We did a lot of work around unifying the traditional news workflows and what we call the digital newsflows as well as social media news,” says Savina. Hence the development of a number of tools “which allow you to treat social media sources in a smart way so you can easily find source content on social media networks. For example, we have made it very easy to source tweets and build on-air graphics almost immediately.”

Given the headache-inducing volumes of social media content broadcast teams are routinely obliged to sift through every day, the need for tools that manage what we might term ‘non-production’ content will continue to escalate.

‘Always-on’ assets
Avid is also entirely cognisant for the call to facilitate what its VP of product management, David Colantuoni, describes as the “ubiquitous ‘always-on’ live environment.” For broadcasters this translates to “ecosystems capable of scaling and managing assets logically and flexibly, together with sophisticated storage technology to enable content production and distribution from anywhere to anywhere, and on virtually any device. Workflows must integrate with web, mobile and social platforms, while enabling all stakeholders to view footage in a browser, and comment on it or log it as needed.”

Avid’s activities in this area now revolve around the MediaCentral platform, for which the company has developed apps covering tasks including the search and browsing of media, researching data and social media feeds, logging, editing, review, approval and publishing. These can all be accessed from the MediaCentral | Cloud UX interface “for a consistent and unified user experience. Aggregating social media feeds, logging as content is being acquired, or cutting together a story based on assets on shared virtualised storage or a MAM system can all be achieved on the same interface.”

Echoing the sentiments of other vendors, Colantuoni agrees that metadata is “certainly a problematic area for many broadcast customers. That’s why we’ve introduced sophisticated services and workflows like cognitive services. Through services like phonetic indexing – indexing the spoken word of ingested content – you can search on phenomes, or just the voice of what was being said, or use it to complement a metadata search.”

The creative possibilities of integrating cloud-based platforms using AI-driven cognitive service capabilities to create searchable metadata are significant, indicates Colantuoni: “Functions like speech-to-text, facial recognition and character or image recognition become searchable metadata. More advanced AI-driven metadata search can uncover content media companies might not even know they have, opening up new media and revenue opportunities.”

Sports media requirements
Alongside news, sports production is arguably the field of broadcasting with the most exacting demands of MAM systems. It’s something to which Tedial has responded with the live sports production solution, SMARTLIVE, which “builds on the core metadata management for which Tedial is well-known,” says Mesas. “Having amassed unrivalled metadata around an event, intelligent processing that can then automate the production of video highlights packages, allowing broadcasters to create more and better content.”

In a preview of Tedial’s IBC 2019 plans, Mesas reveals that the company will launch SMARTLIVE’s new multi-sport configurations, allowing users to generate automatic highlights or auto-clipping for any genre of sport quickly and easily. Tedial will also demonstrate a new module – available for both SMARTLIVE and Tedial’s Evolution MAM – that allows all type of content to be published to any social network in just one click.

Primestream with iMacPro and FCPX

Primestream with iMacPro and FCPX

Fully aware that the nature of content production is shifting all the time, Tedial is using the SMPTE-originated Interoperable Master Format (IMF) as a foundation stone of its R&D. Mesas explains: “We introduced IMF into our MAM workflow in 2013 in parallel with its release, in order to easily define the delivery profiles for every destination without the need to reinvent the wheel by using the composition playlist (CPL) to define components to be delivered and the output profile list (OPL) to define transformations. We then extended this to offer a full IMF end-to-end solution from ingest to IMF enrichment and delivery.”

In a sector in which the number of platforms and formats is continuing to grow, interoperability of systems and efficiency of MAM-related actions will always be highly prized. Fortunately, it is apparent that vendors are doing a commendable job of both accommodating current requirements and anticipating future ones.