TVBE November 2011 Digital Issue

Page 42

TVBE_Nov P42-47 MAM 2_TVBE_SEPT_P21_37_sports 09/11/2011 11:18 Page 42


Frankenstein or sleeping beauty? What to look for in a broadcast MAM solution for 2012 and beyond MAM Opinion By Russell Grute Working as an independent consultant, specialising in media management and workflow development, I was recently asked by the CEO of a growing broadcaster “if we could start from scratch next year how should we improve our MAM strategy?” An apparently reasonable question I thought. Yet despite having worked through successful MAM-based projects over the last 10 years with clients including ESPN Star Sports, NRK, Channel 4, MTV Northern Europe, HBO Asia, Al Jazeera and SBS Networks, I admit I struggled for an easy answer. At IBC in September around 400 technology vendors, partners and integrators offered a MAM capability as part of their value proposition. Improved content creation, repurposing and distribution workflows to increase broadcast and new media revenue were promised by all. With such wide choice has MAM now matured and are clear choices are easier? Perhaps our CTO’s ‘reasonable question’ can be answered by sharing what has worked for others so far. And by looking at better solutions architecture and integration, and the skills and motivations required to deliver improved media asset management.

Solutions architecture There is a wider range of solutions architectures than ever before to improve any scale of media management. Today’s island subsystems in production, post production, graphics and playout are potentially now so performant that for some cases I question if a separate MAM system is necessary. The interoperability of content, its metadata, projects and libraries, while still a delicate area, is now mainstream. Ironically, many manufacturers champion their compatibility and interoperability with partners (and competitors) as much as their own core value proposition. Avid, EVS and Grass Valley, as examples, regularly vie with each other to be the most compatible with Apple’s Final Cut. Recent ‘X’ rated news has clouded this somewhat but I hope it makes the point; keep an eye on Adobe too.

Other technologies manage high volume incompatibilities throughout the content lifecycle. Harmonic or Telestream for example, can transform any legacy file and send it anywhere; often unnecessarily in a poorly designed workflow. As a result thousands of duplicate file copies going nowhere now infect many broadcasters’ storage systems. End-to-end media lifecycle management is just one reason to consider better enterprise MAM. Other reasons include: helping staff across the business to search and access material to collaborate more efficiently and, sharing and monitoring both content and infrastructure. Where multivendor technology needs to be integrated to improve workflow many MAM vendors have progressed, or been forced, toward software systems integration. This is evident in multichannel playout systems where often only the MAM vendor can properly integrate channel management systems such as ad sales, traffic, and scheduling and increasingly new media distribution. Only by durable long term integration between MAM and channel management systems can media distribution businesses now succeed. Whether islands and/or enterprise are required, a technological economy of scale can now only be gained by having the right software integration capabilities and partnerships.

Issue Focus on Broadcast MAM At TVBEurope we regularly return to the ever-evolving topic of Media Asset Management. Why? Because new technologies and file-based workflows are constantly moving the goalposts in terms of broadcast operations, ROI, functionality and plain ease of use. Our MAM columnist Russell Grute hits the nail right on the head in his first paragraph: ‘I was recently asked by the CEO of a growing broadcaster “if we could start from scratch next year how should we improve our MAM strategy?” An apparently reasonable question I thought…’ Indeed: but not so easy to answer! In the following pages, please find further MAM opinion and two case studies from France, one from Spain, one from the UK and another from further afield. — Fergal Ringrose These skills are now the key enablers in achieving secure solutions architectures, which comprise generic integration platforms, virtualisation and distributed cloud-based services.

Quiet beautiful integration While investment over the next three-to-five years could be dramatically lower on technology costs there will be increased investment in specialist services. Today’s flexible software driven systems based on IT offer higher performance, more flexibility and resilience but require careful handling. Those key individuals that understand properly the use cases and potential workflow improvements, who can also liaise with technologists, are currently still a rare breed. Software integration, ongoing workflow development and flexible operational support are the key new disciplines required to maintain a strong MAM ecosystem. A clear danger sign early in a MAM project is when a few smart

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people on the client’s IT side, often focused on in-house IT access or the scheduling system, start talking ‘in code’ with supply-side developers. A short-term boost of well-intentioned technical problem solving is often followed by a Frankenstein integration with too many hidden and poorly documented technical workarounds. Structuring wider review of these early decisions and risks by involving key users, the project manager and the support team can avoid problems with ongoing workflow improvement, scalability in adding new services and operational support. Many clients admit they are sometimes slower in delivering their in-house project commitments than specialist technology suppliers, due to limited in-house expertise and capacity. This is a key reason to engage an SI and specialist third-party integration partners.

Motivation for success By 2012 MAM is not new. Broadcasters continue to look at reorganising their talent, operations and technology using MAM and better workflows. Some broadcasters are looking for a second or even third time at MAM to drive enterprise efficiency. Carefully balancing new job roles with high volume media processing is a key success factor when delivering improved media asset management. To achieve this balance and to help heads of operations work effectively with their CTO’s team and technology suppliers it’s helpful to use a vision statement. For example: ‘What will we do when the business asks us to deliver increased programming, or launch twice as many new channels, with no increase in staff?’ So which MAM strategy would I recommend for 2012 to help our CEO streamline content creation, repurposing and distribution? Regrettably this short story doesn’t offer a ‘happily ever after’. The improved ROI using MAM, which has eluded many so far, was caused in part by a weak vision, inaccurate scope and poor integration. Somehow if we stitched enough IT and broadcast parts together and added enough volts many hoped the vision would come to life. In 2012 perhaps we’ll create less clunky misunderstood monsters and instead take the opportunity for some restful beautiful integrated efficiency. N OV E M B E R 2 0 1 1

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