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 Neil Maycock Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Trends in IP based broadcast
Glodina Lostanlen The momentum behind moving media operations to IP-based environments is unstoppable and to stay ahead of the competition these days, companies need to be migrating operations away from rigid, single-purpose components and towards software-based common computing resources.
Tags: iss120 | ip broadcast | imagine | cots | SMPTE | AMWA | VSF | EBU | Glodina Lostanlen
Submitted by Glodina Lostanlen Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Health and Safety gone mad
Dick Hobbs. The first true broadcast television service started 80 years ago, on 2 November, 1936. Its home, famously, was Alexandra Palace, a vast and really rather run-down building on top of Muswell Hill in north London. Originally opened in 1873, and re-opened in 1875 after a catastrophic fire, it was built primarily as an entertainment venue. Indeed, it was built as "a palace of the people", a usage of that expression a century or more before most of us associate it.
Tags: iss120 | ally pally | bbc | alexandra palace | Dick Hobbs.
Submitted by Dick Hobbs. Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The eye in the sky
Julian Marks EVENT360 specialises in production and delivery of sport presentation, entertainment and stadium ceremonies, and, as such, we're always looking for new, interesting, and innovative crowd engagement tools.
Tags: iss120 | london 2012 | eye in the sky | herocast | nfl | event360 | Julian Marks
Submitted by Julian Marks Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Broadcasting virtual reality to the world
Steve Plunkett Following the recent launch of a number of virtual reality (VR) headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, VR is introducing new and compelling platforms for broadcasters to deliver their content, and new ways for audiences to consume.
Tags: iss120 | virtual reality | vr | ericsson | Steve Plunkett
Submitted by Steve Plunkett Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Where university meets universe with Tim Peake
Georgia Thirtle If you had told me last year that, going into my second year at the University of Portsmouth, I would have met and interviewed Tim Peake, then I would have probably laughed and said something along the lines of "I wish". Well, turns out I didn't have to wish, because I did just that.
Tags: iss120 | tim peake | education | ccitv | Georgia Thirtle
Submitted by Georgia Thirtle Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Diversify or Die
Steffan Hewitt This headline of this article is a simple fact, diversify or die! It is necessary for survival as well as interest of mind to do this within business. "If a farmer can no longer produce crops because no-one wants them he must diversify or die." Caravans, glamping, corporate days in the country with hunting, fishing and shooting; these are just some of the changes that Britain's' farmers have made or they have gone out of business.
Tags: iss120 | polecam | red bull | f1 | Steffan Hewitt
Submitted by Steffan Hewitt Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Rethinking standards in the media world
Bruce Devlin It's actually a more difficult question than you think. When I ask the majority of engineers this question, I will get a technical answer. It will be something like "to be sure we meet the specification" or "to be sure we don't put bad signals on air" or "so that I don't get fired for getting loudness wrong"
Tags: iss119 | qc | monitoring | mr mxf | class | Bruce Devlin
Submitted by Bruce Devlin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Smart audio - the way foward for live broadcast production
Anthony Wilkins Today's broadcast facilities are facing ever-increasing demands on their resources as they strive to keep up with consumers who expect more content on more devices, both where and when they want it.
Tags: iss119 | junger | audio | Anthony Wilkins
Submitted by Anthony Wilkins Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Hacking Hell
Dick Hobbs. There was a really scary story in the news a week or two ago. In the words of Yves Bigot, director-general of TV5 Monde, "we were a couple of hours from having the whole station gone for good".
Tags: iss119 | hacking | hackers | dick hobbs | Dick Hobbs.
Submitted by Dick Hobbs. Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The importance of a low noise floor
Alan Wheable The Noise Floor of a piece of T&M equipment is the inherent noise (or intrinsic jitter) introduced by the equipment itself. The level of inherent noise affects the accuracy and repeatability of jitter measurements that can be made, especially when measuring low levels of jitter. With the permitted 100KHz jitter on a 12G-SDI signal being only 0.3UI, it is important to establish the total level of jitter in the signal path to ensure that it does not exceed this limit and cause data errors.
Tags: iss119 | omnitek | test and measurement | intrinsic jitter | Alan Wheable
Submitted by Alan Wheable Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Cause and effect of jitter in an operational IP video network
Paul Robinson What are the advantages of moving to an IP infrastructure?
Tags: iss119 | ip | tektronix | cots | jitter | Paul Robinson
Submitted by Paul Robinson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Reviewed
Ben Sherriff The yeti finally arrived earlier this year - I call it so, because for almost twelve months until BVE 2016 we'd only seen it in pictures!
Tags: iss119 | ursa | bmd | blackmagic design | ursa mini | Ben Sherriff
Submitted by Ben Sherriff Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The value of an industry placement
Abbie Smith Do a placement after the second year of your degree they said, it'll be fun they said! You know what, they were right!
Tags: iss119 | tvfutures | placements | student | Abbie Smith
Submitted by Abbie Smith Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine