We are in the age of a digital information explosion, and managing the expanding digital media data assets has become a serious concern. Storage users and IT managers in the media and entertainment (M&E) industry feel the full weight of the data management burden, as digital movie and TV production workloads demand increasing compute and storage horsepower. The evolution of motion picture and HDTV technologies, including the reality of high-frame-rate (HFR) 3D and 4K TV, exacerbates data management challenges that can, at times, seem overwhelming.

Just as the industry moved from analog tape to digital tape for data preservation, many top studios are transitioning to scalable object storage to meet growth demands and enhance key asset infrastructure, data durability, and resiliency. Media asset managers help manage and orchestrate digital assets.

Media executives have over the last couple of years evolved their perception of media asset management (MAM) from a standalone rich media storage repository to an enabler of end-to-end integrated media asset production and distribution workflows. By deploying a unified MAM system, media enterprises streamline multi-platform asset distribution and monetize premium time-based media assets on multiple non-linear channels.

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Integrated digital content platforms are essential for competing in today's content-everywhere world. MAM boosts collaboration and productivity by enabling production teams to access media assets from any location. MAM solutions help media enterprises to reduce lifecycle costs and deliver content to audiences via new multi-platform delivery services. By using MAM as a strategic tool to accelerate multi-platform asset monetization, organizations gain significant ROI.

One of the core objectives when deploying an MAM system is to improve operational efficiencies. In order to realize high ROI from MAM, these solutions should form an integral part of the end-to-end video media workflow, i.e., facilitate content creation, distribution, reuse, and archive. Seamless integration of video media workflow from library management, production, editing, and distribution using a multi-vendor strategy might increase complexities and reduce productivity. Thus, it is essential to carefully evaluate vendors offering horizontal and vertical integrated value propositions as a unified platform and tight third-party integration program.

There is a difference of opinion across multiple geographies with respect to adoption rates for platform BPO offerings including the MAM solution and professional and project management services. Globally, one-fifth of media enterprises might prefer vendors offering pre-packaged platform BPO option. On a regional basis, the adoption rates show a low of 11 percent (most likely) in North America and high of 20 percent across the EMEA region.

2017 and MAM

Kevin Savina, product strategy director at Dalet Digital Media Systems, in Broadcast Bridge, elucidates on key trends in MAM that broadcasters, facilities, and content producers should keep at the forefront of their decision-making in 2017. Kevin focuses on multi-platform distribution, collaboration, workflow orchestration, and business intelligence.

Multi-platform Distribution

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How are changing audience consumption habits combined with the continued rise of social media impacting multi-platform distribution?

In order to be addressed efficiently, multiplatform distribution workflows need to be considered at the heart of the operations, and not as an afterthought. The MAM solution is key to enabling efficiency in this process. Not only does it need to manage the stock and the preparation flow of all the program elements needed for outbound content on all distribution channels, but it also needs to cater for a return path of data, and even more so with social channels.

Content owners want to move their assets to multiple platforms and distribution channels. The need is to do this efficiently and automatically.

Let us start with the program preparation aspect. In multi-platform distribution, we still face challenges of similar nature as the ones traditional linear broadcasting faces – dealing with multiple languages, multiple audio tracks, multiple subtitle tracks, and different delivery formats – but these need to be taken to a much larger scale. By providing the right toolset and automating the packaging process, the combination of MAM and orchestration optimizes that preparation, facilitating a much more efficient multi-platform distribution workflow.

Now let us move to the aspect of the return data path from the distribution platforms back into the MAM, as it is key for collecting important data on content performance. Typically, traditional MAM solutions preparing content for delivery on linear channels have not been concerned with any consumption data flowing back. But with digital platforms (OTT and social media), this data is now available, and not tapping into it for new strategies is a missed opportunity. To lay properly the foundation for the new game', these data sources should be connected back to the MAM, mapped in the data model, and made available in various aggregates, to various user groups, at various stages, in order to drive more informed decisions at the editorial and content-preparation level, as well as longer-term strategies.

Collaboration

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MAM started out as the platform to manage media assets, but has now evolved into a solution that manages workflows to prepare these assets. To do this efficiently, it is not enough to manage access rights and share content; native collaboration tools are required. Having users accessing the system from different locations, over secured web clients or mobile applications, allows for distributed teams to operate. Providing built-in chat and notification tools ensures they operate with maximum productivity. And finally, providing solutions for multi-site operations brings together cross-geography workflows, making the walls of separate offices and facilities a distant memory.

The combination of these tools, if done right, can turn the MAM into a true collaboration platform.

Workflow Orchestration

There is indeed a need for workflow orchestration to optimize efficiency around MAM-driven workflows.

From a design perspective, there has always been a divide between the two schools of thought – should orchestration be part of the MAM platform or a separate system? There is no definite answer to this question. The most efficient solution may be to have an orchestration layer very closely coupled to the MAM. This scenario would make full use of the comprehensive metadata available in the MAM to drive business rules as well as ensure consistency when continuously changing these business rules and operations. This would give an orchestration as an open component that is natively integrated with the MAM.

The orchestration component itself needs to be a BPM platform based on standards such as BPMN 2.0, which will orchestrate a combination of automated technical processes and human tasks/operations. This is key to efficiency. Any partial solution will limit what can be accomplished.

Cloud

All businesses, including digital content creators within the M&E industry, are moving to or considering a move to the cloud. When considering storage systems and MAM software, both need to be cloud compatible.

A well-structured MAM back-end, tightly combined with orchestration, is the only way to enable data-driven media operations. A checklist is absolutely essential. It would address issues as whether MAM will respond to the business requirements of the facility, enable true integration between silos of production, offer services in such a way that the cost savings can be established without compromising the quality of the content produced, and be sufficiently scalable and extensible so that it can deliver the agility required to respond to new business and new business models.

India Story

The MAM market in India is estimated at 42 crore in 2016, growing at 15 percent per annum. The broadcasters find many MAM-only solutions lack many necessary elements now critical to video success. When an MAM is combined with an overall media logistics platform, it results in much more than just an MAM with an advanced feature set or add-ons – the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Asset management in such a holistic platform is coupled with a robust user experience that seamlessly orchestrates, unifies, integrates, and automates both the lifecycle of assets and the overall video supply chain. This combination is key for broadcasters, whether they have end-to-end video production operations or whether their whole business involves only one workflow element and perhaps they are looking to expand to others eventually. Or not. Media logistics can optimize their business regardless.

A media logistics platform with workflow orchestration combined with asset management is popular. Its platform provides comprehensive integration, configurability, adaptability, and data-first asset management, which are critical for success. The asset management capability offers HTML5-based MAM user experience designed for creative teams.

Way Forward

Media enterprises have complex infrastructure with MAM as one of the components. It should be vertically integrated with traffic and scheduling, rights and royalties management, airtime sales, and financial modules for the enterprise to enhance operational efficiencies. On the other hand, tight horizontal integration with content production and distribution functionalities improves media asset lifecycle workflow. In a connected world, a vertically and horizontally integrated digital content lifecycle platform proposition might provide competitive advantage with prepackaged platform BPO offering.

There is a steady shift in the perception of MAM technology from a mere centralized storage system to a unified platform facilitating multi-platform media asset distribution. Media enterprises are leveraging MAM systems to link production and distribution modules to seamlessly integrate the media asset lifecycle management process.

Kinkon Nath,AGM-Technology, SRSG
Industry Speak
SRSG's Archival Project – Newslive Guwahati, Assam

SRSG has successfully completed the MAM setup at Newslive Guwahati. The project was made successful by team SRSG along with the successful participation of the Newslive technical team. Moving forward in the digital world, Newslive had to go for an archival setup that is at par with the best in the industry and compatible with the file-based workflows, also digitizing and managing the assets of yesteryears that lie in video tapes

Latest technologies have been used to make this workflow successful. Brands that provided their technologies for the MAM setup are eMAM, DDP, Archiware, Telestream Vantage, and Overland.

The MAM solution is based on the daily requirement of the archival of audio/video files in the longer run. Content is money as they say, and content needs preservation, so we used technologies that work in tandem with each other and made the content easily accessible to the users and quickly too.

The challenge that we face in today's scenario is making content readily accessible to the user. DDP's path-breaking IP SAN technology is phenomenal in providing faster access to assets that too on a Gigabit network without the bottlenecks of a traditional Gigabit network. Similarly, eMAM is the MAM automation that manages the entire workflow. All the users need is access to a standard browser and they are up and running in their daily jobs without any hassles. Telestreams's Vantage is a cutting-edge transcoder that is running all the proxy and delivery jobs that are required in the workflow. Archiware's P5 is the HSM that is used in this setup and it is one of the easiest to implement and works very efficiently. Overland's T24 robotic tape library is used for deep archival.

Kinkon Nath,
AGM-Technology,
SRSG

Kulvinder Singh,VP Sales SAARC, Aveco

Aveco's cutting-edge automation and MAM products are built to help customers reduce OpEX and CapEX while increasing revenues. We have added many new features to our portfolio making the workflows easier and have opened new markets in South America as well as established new partnerships. All this has built a very solid foundation for further growth in 2017. The 2016 revenues in India grew at 60 percent compared to the preceding year. Customers are recognizing the importance of Aveco automated workflows in MAM for optimizing the running cost. We are currently installing corporate MAM at Star Sports, managing the postproduction workflow and integrating with Aveco's ASTRA Studio – the studio automation system currently installed in seven Star studios. There are several other customers who have launched Aveco products or are about to launch. We have a very long and successful history in India, we have a local team, we are a strong company helping customers to smoothly transition from the legacy and through the present turbulent times to the challenging, but tempting, future

Kulvinder Singh,
VP Sales SAARC,
Aveco