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Content readiness in time-deferred workflows W hat are the fundamental considerations that must be addressed to ensure the quality of non-real-time content, whether played out from a broadcaster’s media server or time-shifted for VOD and other OTT services? When focusing on the actual content itself, rather than the service, network or other components, the key is the readiness of content to be used. For instance, a piece of media must be syntactically correct in order to ensure that it causes no downstream issues in the workflow and that it will play and decode properly. At the same time, content must be free of artifacts, meeting visual quality standards as well as those dictating the correct resolution and bit rate. Compliance with applicable regulations, such as EBU loudness standards or requirements for closed-captions/subtitles, is also critical. Finally, the media files themselves must meet the requirements of the production and/or distribution workflow. Content must be transcoded properly to assure that it can be fragmented properly for an adjustable bit rate (ABR) workflow. As different as the operations of a studio, post house, broadcast, VOD service provider, or ad insertion facility or department may be, all of these organizations need to ensure that incoming and outgoing content is evaluated and validated according to these considerations. Why is effective evaluation of non-real-time content so important right now? Ask the experts Sudeep Bose, Tektronix Now that file-based workflows have been broadly embraced, facilities have begun working with files in massive volumes — in some cases, tens of thousands of pieces of content each month. The numbers keep growing with the explosion of multiscreen services in use and, within those services, the delivery of content to multiple platforms. The emergence of ABR-based service delivery further multiplies the quantity of files necessary, requiring six or seven versions for every piece of content. Given the nearly exponential growth in the quantity of files being handled, it is nearly impossible for media organizations without automated T&M and quality control solutions to maintain not only the quality of content throughout the delivery chain, but also the quality of experience expected by consumers today. What processing is typical of today’s time-deferred workflows? Typically, the media facility in question is dealing either with natively digital content or with content that has been converted to digital. At beginning of the content ecosystem, content is encoded at a very high resolution, such as 4K. Content creators and owners such as studios then create a mezzanine or “house” version, bringing content down to 200, 300, or 400 megabits per second for delivery to the next link in the distribution chain. Often, this is an internal department or external post facility that transcodes content to the profiles suitable for service providers such as Netflix, Comcast, AT&T U-verse, DISH Network, and DirecTV. Transcoded from formats such as ProRes or QuickTime, or MXF-wrapped Sony XDCAM or JPEG2000, content is prepared as MPEG-2 or H.264 in a transport stream container that can be transported across the service provider’s network to the consumer. As this shift in format and bit rate is performed, additional 44 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 79 JULY 2013 TV-BAY079JUL13.indd 44 09/07/2013 16:52 EF