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 Giles Bendig Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A Bluffer Guide to....CMOS
Mike Colyer I like to break my employers' cameras. For me, there is nothing more exciting than considering a daring location to install a micro camera system. It could be in a trackside breaking board at a motorsport event (culminating in slightly-too-extreme close up of, say, a Porsche bumper) - or a system installed a tad too high up a tree in a jungle (where a direct lightning strike can push the system somewhat over its 12 volt max). Thanks to modern CMOS camera design, however, not only can this be done safely (unless you are a camera) - but it can be done cheaply, often with impressive results.
Tags: iss125 | cmos | bluffers guide | ccd | Mike Colyer
Submitted by Mike Colyer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Audio at 750mph
Sam Ashwell London-based 750mph has recently completed the finishing touches to a massive refit and upgrade of this audio post stalwart's Soho HQ which will bring even more, newly immersive, audio online.
Tags: iss125 | blackmagic | bmd | 750mph | audio | 3daw | 3d audio | dolby atmos | Sam Ashwell
Submitted by Sam Ashwell Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Is everyone a journalist these days
Rene Morch Today's content consumers have endless viewing and streaming possibilities thanks to the advent of smart phones and tablets that allow them to watch pretty much anything they want, on the go, and away from the confines of a television screen.
Tags: iss125 | dpa | microphone | dvice | Rene Morch
Submitted by Rene Morch Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP-Based Intercom Solutions
Jon Ridel The broadcast market has experienced a huge change over the last decades, resulting in the need for larger and larger intercom systems. As the demands of broadcasters have grown, the central factor for manufacturers keeping up with demand has been IP. A company at the forefront of this development is RTS. In the new millennium, the company has established its IP-based intercom solutions based on OMNEO media networking architecture.
Tags: iss125 | omneo | rts | roameo | intercom | IP | Jon Ridel
Submitted by Jon Ridel Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Modernizing the Cutting Edge
Myles Carter - new Over the last decade, streaming as a medium has seen tremendous growth. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video are no longer just post-hoc distributors of broadcast television content, they have become content creators and are producing some of the most well received "television" content of the past few years.
Tags: iss124 | matrox | ip | h.264 | h.265 | streaming | Myles Carter - new
Submitted by Myles Carter - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Navigating Unfamiliar Territory
Vijay Sagar Vinnakota The traditional broadcast model - where TV networks play content on a linear schedule, and viewers tune in on their TV sets - is under siege. Linear TV is not going away anytime soon, but the model is becoming less and less relevant. Thanks to the rise of OTT services, viewers have become accustomed to watching content when and where they want, on just about any device with an internet connection. For that reason, broadcasters must add an OTT component to their offerings.
Tags: iss124 | cloud | amagi | ott | hls | rtmp | mpeg-dash | yupp tv | netflix | amazon prime | sling tv | Vijay Sagar Vinnakota
Submitted by Vijay Sagar Vinnakota Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Welcome to the world of filming The Island with Bear Grylls
Paul Scurrell How do you make a polished television show worthy of broadcast on Channel 4 when the camera operators are starving, dehydrated and sleep deprived? Most of them also have no previous experience of professional filming and are more concerned with finding their next meal than making sure they've got their cameras switched on ready to record. Welcome to the world of filming The Island with Bear Grylls.
Tags: iss124 | bear grylls | channel 4 | gopro | timecode | sync | Paul Scurrell
Submitted by Paul Scurrell Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Designing the correct workflow
Harry Smith Last year I took a year-long placement as a video editing support technician. The role exposed me to the common issues that students run into when editing their projects, and I developed an understanding as to why they might struggle understanding the complexities of video workflow.
Tags: iss124 | portsmouth | tvfutures | ccitv | post production | Harry Smith
Submitted by Harry Smith Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Motor Sports - Some Like it Hot
Gordon Capaccio High performance race cars, their drivers, and teams supported by manufacturers participating in a sport for which the combined, visceral thrills and sensations of burning tires, megadecibel roars, pungent racing fuel and throngs of enthusiasts can be difficult to convey, even on the largest big screen television.
Tags: iss124 | motorsport | 3g wireless | imsa | rolex 24 | domo | dtc | prorxd | diversity rf | Gordon Capaccio
Submitted by Gordon Capaccio Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Controlling the Chaos of Remote Uplinks
Roger Franklin For Satellite Broadcasters, consumer needs have never been so varied. Audiences are increasingly accustomed to personalisation in every type of content they consume. They now demand, or rather expect to receive breaking news from a scene, content specific to their regions and access to live sporting events held thousands of miles away.
Tags: iss124 | uplink | satellite broadcast | crystal | Roger Franklin
Submitted by Roger Franklin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Masters of Dirt - Extreme Production
Rian Bester On 22nd April 2017 Inside the Masters of Dirt, the world's wildest unscripted motocross reality series, will launch exclusively on INSIGHT TV in 4K UHD. Produced by Masters Of Dirt (M.O.D) and XTreme Video, the series follows the adrenaline-addicted crew that produces the popular freestyle motocross arena show of the same name.
Tags: iss124 | insight | masters of dirt | motocross | freestyle | fs700 | sony fs700 | 4k | uhd | Rian Bester
Submitted by Rian Bester Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Thinking clearly about the cloud
Chris Steel 2 As someone who is constantly trying to build better products, I'm always asking questions and listening to the ones I get asked. For several years now I've asked every broadcaster and media production company I've met what they plan to do about 'the cloud'
Tags: iss124 | cloud | marquis | archive | network | Chris Steel 2
Submitted by Chris Steel 2 Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Dick brings out his cutting room scales
Dick Hobbs - new At this time of year, in the run-up to NAB, my in-box is even more filled than usual with press releases craving my attention. It is one of the universal truths so unloved by PR people that the sheer weight of numbers threatens to overwhelm.
Tags: iss124 | cutting room | nab | kpmp | dick hobbs | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Why is drone training even an option
Tim Bearder It's fair to say that one of the most disruptive, liberating and inventive technological advances for independent filmmakers in recent years has been the incredible leaps made in the world of Drones.
Tags: iss124 | caa | drone | drone training | drone academy | Tim Bearder
Submitted by Tim Bearder Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
You need wave power if you are going surfing
Tim Bonython Tim Bonython's association with surfing films began in 1978, when armed with a Super-8 camera he set off to Hawaii's infamous North Shore, to capture the big waves and their riders. From that moment he fell in love with the sport, and became obsessed with making it the subject of breathtaking and inspiring films.
Tags: iss124 | surfing | red scarlet weapon | red brick | pag | battery | paglink system | 153wh | Tim Bonython
Submitted by Tim Bonython Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Mr MXF does Vegas
Bruce Devlin - new For quarter of a century I have been boarding planes to Las Vegas every April and the thing I look forward to most is the Sunday morning cycle from the Strip up to the top of Red Rock Canyon to look back down upon Vegas. From up there, you get a sense of perspective of how alien the city stuck in the desert really is.
Tags: iss124 | nab | mrmxf | cloud | ptp | imf | ip | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Is now the time to compromise on investment
Mike Ransome - new It would seem on the face of it that many broadcasters and production companies are trimming spending to the bone, or at least postponing it in anticipation of more lucrative days to come.
Tags: iss124 | investment | presteigne broadcast hire | 4k | eng | Mike Ransome - new
Submitted by Mike Ransome - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel from Blackmagic Design - Reviewed
Rebecca Goodeve - new Blackmagic's new, more affordable control surface for professionals is probably the most perfect panel I've ever used......
Tags: iss123 | blackmagic design | minipanel | davinci | grading | Rebecca Goodeve - new
Submitted by Rebecca Goodeve - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Streaming and the need for continued innovation
Jon Schorah - new In a fast-changing world, audio producers need to adapt quickly in order to keep up. Media consumption is changing - fast. Almost without anyone noticing, we have passed the tipping point. Only a few years ago we were discussing streaming as an emerging technology; yet now, according to a recent Deloitte survey, streaming has overtaken live TV as the preferred viewing method in the U.S. YouTube viewing figures continue to surge.
Tags: iss123 | nugen | audio | streaming | youtube | Jon Schorah - new
Submitted by Jon Schorah - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine