Four must-haves for modern media workflows: Enhancing your MAM solutions


Laurent Fanichet
by Laurent Fanichet
Issue 97 - January 2015

It's always been about the struggle to manage lots of assets and adapt your MAM to suit in the world of digital media workflows. In the early years, enterprise storage infrastructure couldn't keep pace with the demands of SD, so the first non-linear editing systems were turnkey solutions with proprietary file and file system formats. In the last decade or so, IT-based solutions have finally caught up, and open solutions for shared storage are now readily available at price points affordable for even boutique post houses.

So now that we've made the shift from digital SD to HD, there's the push toward the quality viewing experience that 4K brings. At the same time, new avenues for distribution are driving workflows to provide quick and direct access to all content for monetisation and reuse, not just work-in-process content. For most facilities, this means implementing new strategies to enhance their MAM and existing workflow, starting with four key issues to consider before making any decisions.

1. 4K content and the need for speed

At IBC 2014 in September, virtually every storage vendor claimed to offer a solution for 4K workflows. But what are they truly offering? 4K technically is just a frame size - 4096 pixels x 2160 lines for cinema or 3840 x 2160 for consumer-but to achieve the quality that people expect from 4K, you need more than just a high-resolution image. You also need a frame rate of 24 frames per second or greater, and a compression codec that doesn't degrade the 4K image quality. After all, to your creative team 4K is 4K raw, not a low resolution codec like most vendors were offering.

The dirty little secret is that it's difficult to stream 4K content at this rate without dropping frames on a shared storage system, so to support their 4K raw claims some workflow storage vendors are reverting back to direct attached storage or proxy editing. Going that route requires modifying your MAM workflow for 4K to download locally for edit instead of accessing directly from shared storage. That means giving up to the collaborative environment that's shortened your production cycles so you can meet the tight deadlines that drive this competitive industry.

The good news is that there are industry-standard, high-performance solutions available that don't require you to disrupt your workflow with tedious downloads and uploads to and from direct attached storage. So when you investigate storage for 4K workflows, your key questions should be: What frame rate does it support? With which 4K codec? Is it 4K raw? Does it work with shared storage or only local storage? How many concurrent streams can it support?

2. Ingest, distribute and the need to scale

Higher-resolutions workflows are not just about increasing storage performance, they're about increasing storage capacity by 3-4 times more than HD, depending on codec. And that's not the only trend that is driving the storage explosion. Much of the storage demand starts right at capture, with live events now being shot with more cameras, and in feature production, with cameras less likely to be shut off between takes.

In facilities that turn projects frequently, the large-scale file creation that happens when files are ingested or file deletion when a project is completed often conflicts with times when users need high-performance access. If the storage can't handle it, facilities are often forced to set up "delete windows" of limited file system access. With tight production deadlines, this can make the difference in being on schedule or off.

The heavy storage consumption continues through the workflow with transcoders spitting out more distribution formats for more connected devices, and content owners creating more second screen content for both live and on-demand markets. And if you're storing content in single-file-per-frame formats like DPX or generate large numbers of files as in VFX, your storage will need to scale accordingly without degrading performance.

So in addition to asking what a storage system's capacity is, you should ask: How easy is it to expand capacity? What's the maximum number of files (not just TB) this storage system can support? Does access performance degrade as the storage fills, as the number of files increases or as files are deleted?

3. Monetisation and the need for longer-term access

At a time when there are more ways to monetise and reuse content than ever before, keeping digital assets accessible to production teams has only become more challenging due to these capacity demands. The all-too-common strategy is to store as much content on high-performance storage as budgets permit, then move older content to offline tape archives as storage fills. In many facilities, unused raw footage is simply deleted after the project is complete with no regard for its future potential.

With a storage architecture that allows content to be stored on less expensive, but secure, digital media, content owners can capitalise on enormous revenue opportunities. The trick is ensuring it still allows direct, seamless access by production teams. Popular storage options include object storage-based solutions, which offer disk-speed access to petascale content, and LTO/LTFS digital tape solutions that are an even more economical choice, particularly for content owners that want to store copies offsite for disaster recovery.

You'll need to find a solution that integrates into your workflow and is economical even after you factor in management. Key questions to ask include: Which types of archive media does the storage system support? Is there automation to migrate content to the archive based on policy? Can archived content be quickly, easily and directly accessed by users? What are the limits to the archive's scale?

4. The need for the cloud

Content production has never been a simple process, but the number of moving parts and scale involved has grown to global proportions. There's more pressure to transcode and deliver content worldwide on more platforms that ever before. And do all this without the added complexity of making and transmitting duplicate copies between remote teams.

That's why many content producers are looking to the cloud to share content across distributed teams. The sticking point is that most public cloud offerings were designed as development platforms for software vendors to build applications and services around and have little, if any, integration for the complex multistage workflows that are common in media production.

Public clouds often require users to adopt new unproven and unfamiliar tools and move assets between stages of the public cloud without careful regard for security or QA checks.

The ideal solution moves the same workflow your team uses today to the cloud so your team can work remotely, sharing content stored on economical, robust storage with the scalability, flexibility and security your team needs. Key questions to ask: Was the cloud built specifically for the demands of media workflows? How much will my workflow or users have to change their daily processes to access cloud-based content? Are the workflow tools for ingest, editing and transcoding available in this solution? Will they work with lower bandwidth connections?

In a business where bigger is always better, and change is the only constant, you need higher performance, greater scale, easier long-term access and the distributed access of the cloud.

You can't afford to do anything else but go big, or go home.


Tags: iss097 | MAM | media | workflow | post production | 4k | Laurent Fanichet
Submitted by Laurent Fanichet
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

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Submitted by Duncan Payne Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Transition to a full end to end IP video solution
Brian Olson Most video professionals will agree that the future is IP. The question is, when and how do they make this transition? With manufacturers just introducing new IP products, many people are observing and waiting. However, the reality is that the move to IP is already rapidly taking place and is more transformational than the move from analogue to digital, SD to HD, or HD to UHD/HDR. IP will change the way that people interact with video, making it more flexible, more accessible, more scalable and will provide more opportunities for content delivery
Tags: iss128 | newtek | ptz | ip | uhd | streamstar | xsplit | vmix | ndi | Brian Olson
Submitted by Brian Olson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How the Cloud can be enabled as traditional broadcast workflows evolve
David Schleifer The Cloud itself is fairly simple, but for broadcasters it can be difficult to leverage. It isnt technically complex but broadcast still overlaps requirements that need real time, high resolution and quick turnaround solutions. Plus, this is coupled with the need to connect with dispersed geographic locations, reduce costs and access multi-format assets. As a result, broadcasters have moved away from asking the basic question what can I do in the cloud? to trialling projects and implementations are now underway or under evaluation.
Tags: iss128 | ott | primestream | David Schleifer
Submitted by David Schleifer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Leveraging licensed broadcast spectrum assets
John Payne There are several different approaches to transmitting live and file-based content from the field to the studio. Traditional microwave Electronic News Gathering (ENG) provides high bandwidth, high-quality transmission with low latency. Using the secure, dedicated BAS spectrum keeps control in a broadcasters hands. The past few years have seen a shift in video technology toward acceptance, and adoption of IP-based links into ENG workflows.
Tags: iss128 | eng | bas | imt | vislink | imt-vislink | John Payne
Submitted by John Payne Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP Prompting
Jon Hilton# The potential nirvana of interoperable IT, Telecommunications and Broadcast convergent technology definitely felt a lot closer at this years IBC with the launch of many, many broadcast IP ready devices, workflow and solutions. While the big ticket camera and live production infrastructures dominated the headlines there were a number of smaller but equally important IP workflows that were launched which are fundamental to successful, professional TV production and this includes the often forgotten world of TV Prompting
Tags: iss128 | portaprompt | ip | prompting | ippg | windigi | Jon Hilton#
Submitted by Jon Hilton# Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
When a lens is more than just a lens
KitPlus Matching shots between different cameras can be tricky at the best of times. But how do you match lens characteristics between a live action shoot and a CGI composition? The CP.3 XD lenses from Zeiss offer an efficient solution to this with their frame accurate meta-data.
Tags: iss128 | zeiss | lenses | lens | prime | cp.3 | cgi | vfx | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Growing a news agency from the inside out
Lorna Garrett Growing a new media outlet in todays highly competitive market requires taking a strong look at the new ways media is being consumed. Many of the most successful recent startups are community focused, often finding a niche market that wants to be engaged in a way they perceive themselves. Al-Araby TV is a London-based news and current affairs satellite channel that has set out to do just that for Arab citizens.
Tags: iss128 | gpl | garland | al-araby | teracue | x-player | amino | aminet | icue | Lorna Garrett
Submitted by Lorna Garrett Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The dangers of live streaming without a license
Joseph Adamson The entertainment industry is visual and sound driven. Without these two elements there would be no such a thing as entertainment. Its obvious that there are people who create sound/s and visuals. Copyright laws were created to protect the industry and these artists. Many organisations have been created to look after musician, writers, poets and filmmakers. For example there are a number of bodies especially the MCPS [Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society], which is responsible for collecting royalties and licensing of music on behalf of musicians and music producers.
Tags: iss128 | ail | youtube | streaming | license | Joseph Adamson
Submitted by Joseph Adamson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Plan to be smart at IBC
Peter Savage 2 While chatting with a good friend last week, he told me he was full of foreboding about the coming IBC. It needs no introduction: this conference/exhibition is the largest gathering of broadcast professionals in Europe, and the second largest in the world, and everyone in our world knows about it. Ill give you some statistics later but, for now, lets look at why my friend was dreading it.
Tags: iss127 | azule | finance | ibc | planning | Peter Savage 2
Submitted by Peter Savage 2 Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The party is not over until the video is online
Paul Scurrell When we were introduced to the team behind Sensation dance events in Amsterdam they had one big question for Timecode Systems: could our SyncBac VR wireless sync and control solution theoretically make it possible for a high quality, professional 360-degree video of a live dance music event to be edited in the time it takes the DJ to fly to his or her next gig? Intrigued by what our solution could help them achieve, in July they invited us to film at one of their iconic dance music events. Billed as The Final it was a sell-out farewell party to mark the last Sensation event in Amsterdam.
Tags: iss127 | syncbac | vr | 360-degree | pro7 | 360rize | gopro | dj | timecode systems | Paul Scurrell
Submitted by Paul Scurrell Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A bluffers guide to image stabilisation
Mike Colyer One of the greatest challenges I face when designing a Special Camera system is how to minimise such vibrations, be they the very passive such as vibrations from a human wearing a camera system (10 20Hz), or more pronounced (try strapping a camera to a race car!).
Tags: iss127 | stabilisation | eis | ois | Mike Colyer
Submitted by Mike Colyer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
5 reasons to use a soft box with LED lighting
James Mathers LEDs are a highly efficient light source, and putting aside any color spectrum issues, (that have generally been improving) they still have limitations for lighting people. The naked illumination coming off a single emitter, or an array making up a larger fixture, such as a panel, is just not the soft, beautiful glow that we seek for human subjects.
Tags: iss127 | led lighting | softbox | soft box | James Mathers
Submitted by James Mathers Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The ITTP - A Review
Graham Reed Five years ago a group of practitioners who were concerned about the poor training provision and a lack of common skills standards in the broadcast industry formed the ITTP. Since then there have been many meetings with senior industry figures and representatives from training organisations and educational establishments.
Tags: iss127 | ittp | training | bbc | bskyb | soho editors | skills | cirrolite | bksts | skillset | Graham Reed
Submitted by Graham Reed Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Power linking just got better
Yasushi Wada Sometimes batteries can be interesting and this year with IDX is one of those years with not only improvements in the V-Lock range there are significant changes within the 7.2volt area. Firstly and for the very first time in Europe the updated Power Link battery system the IPL range will be shown on the IDX stand at IBC
Tags: iss127 | idx | battery | power | v-lock | vl-2000s | ipl-150 | ipl-95 | Yasushi Wada
Submitted by Yasushi Wada Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Production Communications in a Shrinking World
Gary Rosen Communications today is a critical issueno matter if you are producing broadcast television, doing a live festival or rock concert outdoors, setting up a musical on the West End, or producing a local school play. Over the last few years, the proliferation of cell phones and other wireless devices has made it clear that most people prefer to communicate untethered.
Tags: iss127 | pliant | comms | intercom | duplex | Gary Rosen
Submitted by Gary Rosen Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Peace of mind in a complicated world
Alan Wheable For many in the broadcast industry these are challenging times. With competition coming from all angles and different technological camps advocating different approaches to infrastructure and the way forwards. With the number of different variables increasing, the choices of whether to use SDI or IP infrastructures, and the choices around HDR and WCG let alone the on-going distraction of UHD / 4K.
Tags: iss127 | omnitek | smpte 2110 | ip | ultra tq | 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
Submitted by Alan Wheable Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
State of the Nation - part 2
Dick Hobbs - new This is, of course, the IBC issue of this splendid magazine. Much of the rest of its pages are filled with what you will see there, or (in some cases) what vendors and their marketing communications agencies want you to see there.
Tags: iss127 | ibc | 5g | dejero | liveu | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The importance of storage
Jonathan Smith In recent years, viewing habits have shifted dramatically; online video is becoming the preferred option for the younger generation. But its not just millennials who are cutting the cord with broadcasters and traditional platforms increasing numbers of people from all age groups are abandoning cable and instead enjoying TV online. In response to this growing trend, platforms such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer are rushing to invest in fresh digital content, in a bid to satisfy their ever-increasing audiences.
Tags: iss127 | limelight networks | cdn | pops | Jonathan Smith
Submitted by Jonathan Smith Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Supporting creativity and driving better workflows
Rod Aaron Gammons For decades videographers and filmmakers have been pushing the boundaries when it comes to creativity all with the aim of delivering a visually spectacular and engaging experience to viewers. For the most part they rely on artistic vision and innate skill, but over the last few years technology has been playing more of a role in enabling that creativity, like cameras, sound and lighting.
Tags: iss127 | rotolight | led lighting | aeos | Rod Aaron Gammons
Submitted by Rod Aaron Gammons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Atomos Ninja Inferno REVIEWED
Daniel Peters Bristol-based Daniel Peters is one of a new breed of indie filmmakers discovering that you dont need big budgets to create filmic shorts. Often working solo, shooting and editing his own work, he creates the look and feel of bigger productions with only limited resources. His commitment to the craft is so great he had to sell much of his own gear to fund his most recent short film Deserted in Paris, after he went over budget due to lost locations and actors pulling out.
Tags: iss127 | atomos | inferno | ninja | review | prores | dnxhr | gh5 | fs7 | lut | Daniel Peters
Submitted by Daniel Peters Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine