How Do Media Storage Tiers Work in Post Production?

With video production projects ranging in size and scale, you can’t address media storage needs with a one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s say you’re an editor at a boutique post house or a producer on a corporate video production team, and you’re planning a big new project—one featuring dozens of interviews, hours of illustrative footage, and some fancy motion graphics to boot. It’s also going to shoot on expensive, high-end cameras delivering massive files. You’re on a tight deadline, so you’ll need multiple editors working on it consistently.

Do you rent or buy storage? Which media storage tiers do you need to make it all happen, and how much of each tier do you need? Getting through a big project like this means artfully leveraging different media storage tiers throughout the various stages of post production.

Three Tiers of Media Storage

There are three main tiers of media storage:

  • Online. This is fast, high-performance media storage for real-time workflows. It tends to be more expensive and therefore usually has limited capacity. (Think fast SSD storage.)
  • Nearline. Nearline media storage is slower but has a larger capacity—media is still readily accessible, but the storage doesn’t deliver the same level of performance (nor the same level of expense) as online media storage.
  • Archive. Archives mean inexpensive, large-capacity storage that is typically inaccessible without some level of human interaction (such as loading an LTO tape). This is also often called offline storage.

You’ll also see hybrid cloud storage setups, which store some footage in the cloud rather than on-prem. (And in today’s remote world, more houses are turning to the cloud for the accessibility it offers.) The cloud can play a role in any media storage tier, but it is most commonly used for nearline and archival storage, since online workflows require quite high bandwidth to meet performance requirements.

Tiered Storage and Editorial Workflows

Some editorial workflows are online at all times. This is especially true of projects working with smaller amounts of media and tighter turnarounds—all high-resolution media stays constantly available on a fast online storage tier until the end of the project, when the completed edit will move to archive storage to make room for the next project.

But on a big project with many hours of footage, budget limitations or editorial requirements can eliminate that possibility. This is usually when a more traditional proxy workflow comes into play. Here, the online storage tier hosts the creation and storage of lower-resolution proxy files, while the original camera media with high resolutions (and large file sizes) are stored on a nearline tier for later use.

When the final edit is locked, the timeline can then be “onlined,” wherein only media that made it into the final cut moves from the nearline tier to the online media tier. This replaces proxy media with high-resolution original camera files, which then can be used for final color correction, motion graphics, and delivery. In those later stages, more powerful performance helps keep a real-time workflow ticking along. Once everything is delivered, the entire project can then be safely stored on the archive media tier.

Planning for each tier requires balancing three vital capabilities: performance, scalability, and reliability.

Performance—How Fast Do You Need to Go?

Your media storage should deliver the level of performance required to play back the files you’re working with, in real time, to however many editors need access at the same time. Although capacity might spring to mind first—after all, you need enough space to fit everything—there’s no point in having terabytes to spare if it’s all too slow to play back the media you have at the right speed.

To start: how many editors will need to access the storage at the same time? And how many streams (or layers or feeds) of video will each editor need to play back simultaneously? Here’s where a bit of math helps.

Editors x Video Streams x Bit Rate of each stream = required throughput speed (Performance), or E x VS x BR = P

For example, two editors cutting multicamera shows with, say, four cameras each will need to play back eight streams of video at the same time from shared media storage. Each of those video streams will be stored in a specific codec (flavor of video, e.g., ProRes, DNxHD, H.264 etc.) and use a specific bit rate (bits per second). Generally, the higher the bit rate, the better quality the video and the bigger the file size.

To layer onto the example, the bit rate for 1920 x 1080 HD ProRes video at 29.97 frames per second is 147 Mb/s (megabits per second), so:

2 editors x 4 streams X 147 Mb/s ProRes = 1,176 Mb/s. Because megabits (Mb) are 1/8th of a megabyte (MB), this math happens to work out to needing to transfer 147MB/s.

Check your own figures, then look at the online media storage in question. Can it deliver—at a minimum—this level of performance? If it can’t, choppy, stuttering playback may threaten to hamper creativity and productivity, both of which most teams can’t afford to lose.

Scalability—How Much Room Do You Need to Grow?

Capacity will be an important consideration across every tier of your storage. Still, higher-performance online storage is going to be more expensive, which can limit exactly how much of it you have to work with.

Also consider that needs change. Will your tiered media storage allow you to expand its capacity?

If you’re making a substantial investment in a shared storage solution, it should be able to expand over the working lifetime of the hardware. Check whether you’ll be able to reconfigure the storage yourself (such as when adding more capacity) and whether any downtime is acceptable during that process. (These types of technological hurdles can make it worth investing in a media storage solution that comes with reliable technical support.)

Reliability—How Safe Is Your Media from Sudden Disaster?

Keeping your media safe has to involve incorporating a level of redundancy into any storage calculation you make.

Storage systems typically accomplish this with RAID (redundant array of individual disks). This means that, spread across the entire array of individual drives that make up a complete storage solution, each drive will keep a partial backup of another drive. This eats up some of the initial total capacity—however, if one drive fails, the other drives can rebuild the contents of that failed drive from their duplicates. Another layer of redundancy is to have a complete off-site backup in case of fire or theft, sometimes being drip-fed to the cloud. These kinds of backup measures protect not only your media but your budgets (and potentially reputation) in the case that disaster strikes.

There’s always a bit of pain involved in large investments, but take comfort in the fact that unpredictable disasters and other complexities can blow out a budget just as easily, and to much greater damage. A small post house choosing to save money by rolling their own tiered media storage is responsible for the time-consuming tasks of wrangling media between systems and maintaining different technology from a variety of suppliers. And if the system fails, they may still lose valuable client media. A well-thought-out plan for shared media storage helps take a lot of that stress out of the equation.

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How to Streamline Digital Distribution in a Broadcast Newsroom

The pandemic hit the advertising ecosystem hard: linear TV ad spend shrank 41 percent in the first few months, according to the IAB, and gains in the second quarter were limited. But while it may take a while longer for traditional advertising dollars to resume their normal flow, the IAB predicts a quicker recovery for digital video advertising. After the 2020 election cycle, and with the future of live sports in doubt, local broadcasters will have a much-needed opportunity to diversify their revenue—and that means leaning into digital distribution.

On a higher level, we’ve discussed best practices for digital distribution. Knowing how to tailor your content to various platforms, being selective about the platforms where your station shares content, and integrating digital video creation into your workflow does quite a bit to push distribution along. Now we’ll explore the foundation needed to enable a smooth digital and social workflow for broadcast newsrooms.

1. Think Digital First

The gap between Americans who prefer to get their local news via TV and those who prefer to get it online is shrinking, according to Pew Research Center. Fears about cannibalizing one’s broadcast audience may have made sense a decade or so ago, but today, digital distribution is a vital tool in every newsroom and it deserves recognition as a crucial part of the broadcast workflow.

This mindset is extremely helpful when it comes to breaking news. After all, the next major news event might be just around the corner, and you can’t simply hold stories for the 6 o’clock newscast.

Thinking digitally first doesn’t mean jettisoning the broadcast mindset; the two can work hand in hand. And sometimes, they need to—if a reporter is on the scene of a protest that begins to produce some news, your newsroom needs the ability to immediately share that footage via social and other digital channels, or stream it live.

Think of CNN’s Go There, an entire show with staff devoted to the Facebook Watch platform. Or, instead, think of smaller stations like Louisville’s WAVE 3—their footage of a reporter being shot at with pepper bullets live on air immediately spread across social media. WAVE 3 repackaged the clip for digital distribution while the reporter, Kaitlin Rust, wrote about the experience for the website.

In the event that news breaks on a live stream, the broadcast team needs ready access to this footage. This requires that both teams work from a common shared storage and asset management system so that everyone has instant access to what they need and can deliver it as fast as possible to any platform.

2. Empower Your Digital Video Team

Whether you reallocate current personnel or make new hires to fill out the team, it takes a separate group of people dedicated to digital to properly execute a digital distribution strategy. Many broadcasters already have this kind of team—RTDNA reports that 60 percent of broadcasters aim to implement a digital-first strategy—but as budgets contract, it becomes a component of your newsroom worth fighting for.

And that separate, dedicated team should be in constant contact with the broadcast editorial team. They need to be able to see what footage is coming in and understand what’s happening with that footage for broadcast. They also need to have the authority and capability to edit and publish the footage on their own.

These team members will pull their footage from the same sources as your broadcast edit team. However, the graphics they use will need to be different, both on an aesthetic front and from the technical side. The tech specs for digital video vary quite a bit from those required by broadcast, so easy access to source files is crucial.

3. Simplify the Distribution Method

Having to go through a host of steps just to access source footage slows things down. The surest way of keeping these workflows organized is to connect your digital publishing tools to your central media management system.

To ease digital and social workflows for broadcast, there’s increased demand for the ability to turn live broadcasts into a vertical format that’s friendlier to mobile, while offering more monetization opportunities. A plug-and-play service like this can go a long way toward earning a digital audience and the digital ad dollars that go with it.

For instance, French public broadcaster France Télévisions, which airs massive live events like the Tour de France and the Olympics, decided to offer an equally large suite of digital channels for those events to French viewers. They used technology from Wildmoka to feed dozens of live channels to an app, web browsers, and connected TVs. From there, viewers could watch different angles of live matches at France’s French Open tennis tournament and catch up on what they missed—both highlights and full matches. Most newsrooms won’t need quite as robust a solution as France Télévisions uses, but the fact that the tech is out there to deliver these capabilities speaks to the scalability of a cloud-based product.

Some media management systems also offer the means to integrate social and digital publishing into their workflow. Look for products that automatically connect to (and utilize) your organization’s NLE. It’s a way to give editors the flexibility to work well in the formats—i.e., vertical, square—that social video in particular requires.

Some of these changes are easier said than done, and they take time. If you’re not ready for a dedicated digital team yet, for instance, focus on how technology can ease certain challenges, or vice versa. Even incremental mindset and technology shifts will go a long way toward upping your digital distribution strategy, and will leave you better leveraged to handle the inevitable ebbs and flows of ad spend over time.

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Tailoring Broadcast News to Digital Channels: 3 Best Practices

The TV and online worlds continue to converge, and that gives local broadcasters a unique opportunity: even as people head online more and more, they still trust local news, reports the Knight Foundation. And while the TV ad marketplace may be choppy, online ad revenue is set to continue growing, says AdExchanger, even amidst a global pandemic.

Accessing this digital revenue stream could be crucial to the long-term growth of broadcast organizations, and that access relies on effectively tailoring broadcast news to different platforms. Driving audiences back to your own website means adjusting how you package the news content you’re already producing, not just for your website, but for all the social platforms where viewers can find you.

As you repackage your broadcast news for digital and social use, keep these best practices in mind.

1. Know Your Audience and Your Platforms

You can’t simply put the same video on different digital platforms without some tweaking. For instance, YouTube’s aspect ratio is not the same as Instagram’s, and in any case, the people scrolling through Facebook want something different from people clicking on your YouTube video (namely, captions). To get the most out of your social and digital efforts, you have to know who you’re trying to engage. Does your audience skew female? Male? How young? Do they watch with the sound on or off? Is the platform’s content discovery haphazard, curated by the user themselves, or guided by an algorithm?

Beyond your audience, these video platforms also have their own demographic skew to consider. Some, like Facebook, tend to think of themselves more as walled gardens that want to keep users on their platform. Remember: You don’t want to build an audience just on these platforms, but rather you want to direct them back to your website. Make that as easy as possible; if you post bite-size social video, accompany that with a link leading to the full-size video on your site.

2. Play Where You Know You Can Win

After you’ve gotten a good look at the audience composition of each platform, start being choosy. Don’t spoil your newsroom’s resources on platforms where videos just aren’t getting views. An example: Digiday reports that some news outlets, like the New York Times, have abandoned Snapchat because they’ve found that their content just isn’t what Snapchat users want.

As you dig into your analytics, it’s worth noting that what counts as a view varies widely from platform to platform. On YouTube, a “view” is 30 seconds; on Facebook, it’s 2 seconds. Other metrics, like “engagement” through shares or comments, or average watch time, will tell you a more complete story.

3. Make Digital Video Part of Your Workflow

Your social and digital video strategy can’t just be an afterthought. Once you’ve chosen your preferred platforms, integrate the production of these videos into your digital distribution workflow.

Tailoring broadcast news for social distribution can be a bit of a chore for your employees if you don’t have a software solution where this capability is baked in. A solution that makes it simple to automatically publish videos to various social channels could increase compliance and lift some of the burden from already-busy editors and producers. You also need a solution that enables multiple people to collaborate on the same videos for maximum efficiency.

What do these best practices look like in reality? Here are some examples from digital-first news organizations that could inspire your strategy.

Business Insider’s So Expensive Series

Each episode of Business Insider’s video series So Expensive explains why a particular consumer good is, well, so expensive. The series is designed to attract an audience that may not necessarily be hungry for news. The prominent Business Insider logo creates a relationship between the outlet and its viewers on that platform, driving them to other content not only on the platform but also on the Business Insider website.

The videos’ aspect ratios differ between YouTube and Facebook. Captions are endemic to videos on Facebook, since 85 percent of Facebook video views happen with the sound off, according to Digiday. Calls to action also vary slightly. Episodes also have different release dates on different platforms—the Instagram release of one episode came a few days after its YouTube premiere.

NowThis News Focuses on Social Video

Shorty Award-nominated NowThis News was created with the express purpose of producing news videos for social platforms. It takes the same story and tells it in different ways across the platforms.

One example: Its Twitter video about Florida breaking a record for COVID-19 cases begins quite differently from the Instagram video on the same subject, because the audiences are looking for different things. The Twitter version puts you right into the action, with raw user-generated footage from the scene, while the Instagram version takes a stats-driven, polished approach.

While these case studies offer valuable insights, digital-first news organizations don’t have a monopoly on social or digital video. There’s more than enough room for broadcasters to play—and they need to, if they’re going to flourish as ad dollars shift from TV to digital.

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How to Gauge Shared Storage Requirements for News Production

We need to talk about shared storage—the combination of easily accessible online, nearline, and archive storage that sets the foundation for multiple daily broadcasts in every station. It’s what helps to make the modern broadcast newsroom possible.

It’s challenging to assess your storage needs of today, and it’s even harder to make predictions for several years down the line. The broadcast landscape is rapidly evolving—however, so are the tools built for newsrooms. As you search for a long-term shared media storage solution, here are four factors to consider:

1. Reliability

The nightmare of drive failure is real. It’s not uncommon for a broadcast tech to have their own campfire horror story about drives crashing while putting together a show (and another, equally harrowing tale about the corrupted or simply vaporized media that resulted). A shared storage solution, particularly one that uses a large RAID, mitigates this risk of failure.

The broadcast world at large is already familiar with RAID, but not all RAID solutions are created equal. The more drives on hand, the better prepared a system is to deal with failure—if media is striped across 10 drives, the array can handle two drives going kaput.

The ultimate protection, though, comes in a system that creates more than one mirror of the media and has the intelligence to switch between copies in response to demands and drive failures. That may sound like overkill, but a shared storage solution that creates two separate mirrors of your media ensures that even if drive failure or corruption reaches into one mirror, your workflows stay clear.

With a 24-hour news cycle comes the need for storage that performs all day, every day—even when demand is high.

2. Performance

The demands placed on storage are on the incline. More footage needs to be available to more people, producers need to find the right footage right away, and your storage has to be equipped to deliver smooth feedback to every person working on the broadcast. That requires not just tremendous, scalable capacity but also drive performance and bandwidth.

A shared storage solution that enables your producers to search footage for phrases can be a tremendous value add, particularly if it enables real-time collaboration. Giving producers and editors the ability to edit the same files at once lets the whole team save precious time in a crunch.

Some of the “smaller” perks of shared storage may also have a surprisingly big impact. A gesture as simple as giving everyone access to the right graphics can boost your broadcast’s professional feel. Plus, having the ability to share teasers on social media directly from your software offers new ways to engage viewers.

3. Scale

Scalability is crucial to both operations and price. How many hours of footage can your system handle? How many streams? And how much will it cost to expand these capabilities? Graphics are complex and only becoming more so as time goes on—tech like augmented reality, while still not widely deployed by local stations, may well make its way into more broadcasts in the near future.

An end-to-end solution offers the ability to scale by automatically adding bandwidth along with capacity. This ensures that not only do you have increased space when you need it, but that more of the team can work concurrently on media.

Not every shared media storage solution offers this, however. Always ask about whether increased bandwidth automatically comes with increased capacity.

4. Price

Price should never be the first priority when it comes to storage, even if you’re under a severe budget crunch.

There are, of course, plenty of lower-cost options out there that can keep the newsroom running. But in an environment with constant breaking news, these solutions aren’t as reliable. Breaking news often requires immediate access to archived footage. With siloed storage, a human being has to manage and deliver archived media that is no longer in the nearline or online storage. The newsroom can’t afford to rely on humans for these duties—time is of the essence, and you certainly can’t be sneakernetting in these situations.

So, when breaking news hits, prioritize collaboration. After all, producers and editors need to be able to work shoulder to shoulder (even if working remotely) within a piece of media to deliver the news as quickly as possible. Beyond that, they all need to be able to see what their colleagues are doing. Not every shared storage solution has this capability, but it’s worth investing in.

Shared media storage managed via a central smart hub is one way to save time and money over the long haul—both in person-hours and ad-hoc panic storage buys

Media Storage for News Production Buyer’s Guide

Determining the right storage solution for your news team can be complex. This guide will help you get started.

Addressing Post-Production Security Concerns in Remote Workflows

Imagine a building with a security guard who checks your pass against a vetted list before allowing you access to your edit suite. It sits air-gapped (offline) from the internet. It’s only connected to a local RAID, on which every piece of media is watermarked, both visibly and invisibly. You need your own credentials to log in, and you can’t take any other hardware with you into the room. CCTV keeps tabs on your movements and media access software tracks files as they’re created or transferred.

Now imagine trying to maintain that level of security across multiple editors across the globe, who are all accessing critical media via the internet and dialing in from home Wi-Fi.

Traditional approaches to production security isolate a production’s critical assets physically, technologically, and with regard to personnel. This reduces the potential “threat surface” a bad actor might be able to penetrate. But in the radical shift to remote post-production workflows, many traditional processes and procedures have fallen by the wayside, creating the need to implement new security technologies and procedures.

It’s crucial to not leave the door open for hackers to steal the production’s valuable media assets. But how should post-production teams approach security now that the new normal involves remotely accessing critical hardware and sensitive media from home? And how can editors and post supervisors operate remote video editing workflows securely to prevent embarrassing (or even career-threatening) errors?

To break down this problem, remote post-production teams should work to refresh their security measures in three critical areas: securing media, connections, and hardware.

Securing Media in a Remote Workflow

Delivering files outside of the post-house team requires some method of theft prevention. Securing those files within the team’s remote video editing workflow makes two steps essential: using file watermarking (both visible and invisible) and directly encrypting media files on local storage or when using a file transfer service. Invisible watermarking or file fingerprinting can also aid in forensics and copyright theft situations.

Another practical benefit of visibly watermarking media files is that it helps prevent footage being leaked via screen capture at home or while on video conference calls.

While encrypting and watermarking your files is an important step, it’s just as important to track the movement of media and record a chain of custody.

Without protocols for controlling the movement of media and a correct chain of custody, it’s easy for sensitive prerelease content to get misplaced or inadvertently accessed by those without authorization. The chain of custody also ensures there’s a log of any changes made to files as they pass through post-production departments.

Securing Remote Connection Points

A system isn’t secure unless all points of access are secure at the same time. There’s no point triple-locking all your doors if you leave the window open. To improve production security for a remote video editing workflow, this means:

  • Securing each collaborator’s home Wi-Fi network.
  • Protecting on-premises systems through VPNs, isolating them from outside access.
  • Using secure remote applications with encrypted protocols such as HTTPS or Teradici PCoIP encrypted desktop sharing.

Another potential point of access is group conversations over collaboration systems like Slack, Trello, or Zoom, particularly when screen-sharing private information. Teams need to stay sensitive to what they share and when—while these kinds of conversations may have been secure in a private physical environment, remote conversations don’t always offer the same level of privacy.

On a practical level, it’s well worth considering the use of cloud and on-premises virtualization as a way to spin up new productions that are inherently secure. Virtualized machines look and act like desktop computers running creative software locally, but they’re actually virtual machines running in the cloud. This setup creates opportunities for centralized and automated management, automated security updates, centralized trusted storage for all media, and controlled access to applications and media.

Securing the Hardware

As post-production teams get better at working from home, they’re embracing the growing number of devices that are able to host post-production tasks. More phones, tablets, and laptops are up to the task—but this means that the range of hardware that needs to be evaluated for security has exploded.

For example, phishing scams targeted at team members can deploy malware to steal a user’s credentials from their home computer. In this situation, no amount of security software will be able to stop someone from getting past the facility’s perimeter security and potentially stealing sensitive media.

Since so much of security rests with the team, educating team members to be wary of potential fake emails, links, and websites (especially ones that have been spoofed to appear from genuine connections) is an important piece of the puzzle. Protect their home hardware as well by installing antimalware and antivirus tools, and consider investing in a complete endpoint protection software solution to facilitate intrusion detection and prevention.

A patch management assessment of both operating systems and creative applications, across all devices, would also help to establish a secure and consistent baseline, from which updates could be more easily maintained.

Given the immediacy of all these new areas of concern, is the same level of security even possible within a new remote workflow? The encouraging news is that it’s more than realistic with the right prep. While the number of potential hazards has increased significantly with remote workflows, technical solutions and best practices are emerging to solve each one of them.

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Debunking 3 Myths about Cloud-Based Services for Post Production

Change is hard. But often a difficult transition pays off—learning to edit via NLEs was an adjustment, for example, but it brought about new efficiencies and helped democratize the film industry. Brace for another shift: Unlocking the potential of cloud-based services could spell big changes for post production.

“The cloud” as a term can feel a little amorphous, but it describes using networked computing power accessed through an internet connection. Some of the positives of a system like this might be clear at first glance: the cloud seamlessly enables remote collaboration, scalable computing power, and a digital-first media production workflow.

That’s why it was somewhat surprising that a 2020 DPP study found 70 percent of respondents simply didn’t trust cloud services. Of course, there are valid concerns with any technology, but many cloud-based fears go away with a closer look.

Here are three myths about the cloud that could be preventing you from revolutionizing your workflows, and why they may not reflect the current reality of cloud-based services.

Myth #1: It’s a Security Nightmare

A few high-profile leaks in the past decade have major media companies on high alert when it comes to security, and understandably so. But these vulnerabilities generally aren’t related to an issue with the cloud itself. Take the case of some leaked Netflix programming: a post house simply had an old computer with a security flaw on their own system, and it happened to be connected to the internet.

Traditional workflows’ reliance on shuffling media around presents its own security nightmares. The more media that’s transferred between departments and subcontractors, the more vulnerabilities.

The cloud can reduce opportunities for problems by flipping the script. Workflows are brought to the media rather than the other way around. Think of it like this: Instead of multiple targets with varying degrees of security, bad actors only have one target—and that target has far better protection.

The security that comes with a product like Microsoft Azure is decidedly robust. Major Hollywood studios already use the cloud for post production on some of their films. If companies of that magnitude are comfortable with the level of security they’re getting, that’s a sign of strength.

Myth #2: Connectivity and Performance Issues Are Rampant

When you’re working with massive post files, you don’t need another layer of possible disruption in the form of an unreliable connection, or a system that you think you can’t manually control.

But this isn’t the age of dial-up (or even broadband). Chances are that most major post houses have already invested in fiber infrastructure that can deliver reliable gigabit connections. The foundation to support a cloud-based media production workflow is there, but post houses are still working out the best way to use these new workflows.

After all, not every worker is guaranteed to be on a fiber line. While this isn’t ideal, it is workable, particularly with protocols like PC-over-IP. Because the cloud is constantly making backups of the work being done, in the event of a disrupted connection, the cloud simply begins uploading from the local machine where it left off before the connection dropped out.

In fact, plenty of productions have gotten into the habit of finishing post work remotely, especially as COVID-19 closed many offices. Opus Post Production, Israel’s biggest post house, chose an interesting setup, using HP computers configured as virtual machines and running Media Composer over Teradici’s Zero Client. The process of shifting to a somewhat remote edit process has been smooth for Opus largely because it had already been experimenting with remote processes for years.

Opus is an example of a house that prepped for having to go remote. The novel coronavirus pandemic has thrown into stark relief just how well that kind of planning can pay off.

Myth #3: It’s Too Expensive

It’s true that the cloud doesn’t guarantee an immediate expenditure shrinkage. The central question regarding cloud services and expenses for most major post-production houses, though, has shifted from “Can you afford to use the cloud?” to “Can you afford not to?”

This is a calculation each post house has to make for itself. Cloud-based technology may require investments in infrastructure, such as a dedicated line to ensure uninterrupted data flow, so weigh the possible investment against all of your costs toward cooling and electricity bills, software and hardware updates, and the resources required to maintain all that infrastructure. Cloud-based services can reduce many of those costs, since you only pay for what you use.

It’s near impossible to work on a modern major film production without using some form of cloud-based services. Shoots and reshoots happen in various locations at different times, and all of the footage needs to be accessible to multiple parties regardless of where they are. Projects with tight deadlines can’t afford the time delay of shipping drives. To that end, you’re likely already using a hybrid approach that uploads footage to a central server only certain people can access. Making more of your process dependent on the cloud is a chance to introduce more efficiencies.

Not every company has the resources of a major studio. However, sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for most post houses. The cloud calls

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MAM vs. DAM Solutions: Finding the Right Clip in a Heap of Video Files

Digital publisher accesses a media asset management system

“I’m sure there’s a shot of that somewhere . . .” It’s a phrase often muttered in the hectic buzz of video-heavy environments, as teams navigate disorganized assets. A corporate marketing team producing a robust video ad and a digital publisher working on bite-sized videos for social can both face similar pitfalls.

Even with the storage capabilities of digital asset management systems, or DAM solutions, it’s no small feat to organize digital and media assets like video clips, images, audio files, graphics, and archived content.

Plus, there’s no shortage of people who need access to these files, both in-house and on the client side. Working across teams adds to the challenge, especially if media assets are stored differently across departments. Employees who don’t have access to an asset management system may spend up to five times longer looking for a digital file, according to MarTech Advisor.

As it stands, a DAM is the more common type of asset management system for marketing and digital publishing. But it’s not the only one. If your team focuses heavily on video content but struggles to produce it efficiently, a media asset management system, or MAM solution, may actually be the better fit.

Breaking Down the Options: MAM or DAM?

A DAM is a library that holds finished images, audio files, documents, HTML files, and videos. Alternatively, MAMs are built specifically for media asset management within a video production workflow. Because of that, MAMs come with strong metadata functionality that make it easier to store and find these files.

Video continues to gain a foothold in marketing and publishing. According to SocialMediaToday, the number of businesses using video in their marketing increased 63% in 2019. But expanding video efforts armed with only DAM solutions could lead to a few sticking points: DAMs may not play well with mission-critical video apps like editing or workflow tools, nor will they have the automation capabilities required in demanding production environments.

MAMs store files, too—then again, they integrate with the entire life cycle of video production, not just storage. A MAM can be configured to provide different levels of support: on the high end, they can facilitate workflows as complex as news or sports broadcasting, but a simpler installation is perfect for supporting collaboration among smaller teams, like those in corporate marketing or digital publishing.

A MAM can simplify some of the time-consuming but unavoidable tasks that come with video production, such as sifting through shots, accessing storage, sharing notes, and integrating with publishing platforms to distribute the content. MAMs act as the central repository where anyone in the workflow can find what they need—projects, bins, sequences, metadata—then edit, modify, and share it.

MAMs Don’t Miss Out on Metadata

One critical distinction between DAMs and MAMs lies in how these solutions handle metadata. Media is a lot easier to find when it’s tied to specific information about when a clip was shot, the camera data, format, location, and what’s said in a cut at a given time. MAMs can import, enhance, and manage all of that, allowing producers to tag the best take, label clips by emotion, or include entire transcripts as metadata. With so many pathways for finding files, it’s easier to spot the right clip to support your story.

MAMs can automate more in-depth labeling, like extracting metadata from audio, scene, or face recognition. Some MAMs can even use AI to automate logging, provide advanced search options, and facilitate time-consuming tasks like transcoding, adding watermarks, and closed captioning. With so much in-depth metadata available, the MAM becomes a time-saver for the team: a rich, easily searchable library that gives organizations more ways to find content at a moment’s notice. You’re not going to get this level of advanced metadata out of most DAMs.

Ultimately, you can’t use what you can’t find. An organization can have all the building blocks to finish a video, but if they’re buried underneath a slew of assets, it’s like they never existed. Working with videos on a regular basis may call for a MAM that tears down bottlenecks in your video production workflow, helping you find your clips without a trail of breadcrumbs.

Do in Minutes What Once Took Hours

Manage the content creation process, automate workflows, and empower collaboration—all from a simple web or mobile app interface.

A Super-Simple Way to Safely Park and Back up Projects to the Cloud — Introducing Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces

As production teams create more immersive, rich video content, they are paving the way for deeper engagement with audiences. But that higher-quality media comes with larger, more complex projects. Teams need the ability to back up or park storage workspaces quickly and easily to protect project files and keep content production moving forward. And, unless there’s a secret stash of money lying around, budget constraints make large, up-front purchases of more storage difficult if not impossible.

The answer is cloud-based storage. Our newest addition to the multi-award winning Avid NEXIS family is just the solution.

Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces is designed for small- to medium-size news, sports, and post-production organizations that need to back up or free up their Avid NEXIS storage space. As an add-on service, it enables your team to store onsite projects and media offsite and scale storage space as needed on demand, in the cloud. Unlike other solutions, it doesn’t require additional software components or complex configuration to set up and maintain. That means lower costs, less risk, and fewer administrative errors.

Making Life Easier for Editors, Assistant Editors, Journalists, and Producers

Say you’re an editor, assistant editor, journalist, or producer in a post-production environment using Avid NEXIS storage. You need a way to park finished projects and media not currently in production so you can easily find and retrieve them in the future.

If your Avid NEXIS storage is full, you need to manually shuttle media to external NAS/DAS storage devices, making it hard to find the clips you need. Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces makes it super easy to offload media, finished content, and suspended projects from your Avid NEXIS system to the cloud. And because Avid NEXIS workspaces and cloudspaces are both managed through the Avid NEXIS Management Console, it’s easy to organize,  find, retrieve, and restore what you need fast. With Cloudspaces, you no longer waste time searching for and wrangling media. That means more time to create projects and faster turnaround!

You also want to back up media and project files offsite while making sure your latest changes are protected. But backing up media offsite takes time and can be complicated. Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces works like an extension of your on-premises Avid NEXIS workspaces, enabling you to safely back up media and project files to offsite cloudspaces. It eliminates complex processes and management while safeguarding your projects from loss.

Designed to Support Business Owners, CTOs, Engineers, IT Managers and System Architects

If you’re on the technical side of the house, you want a simple and safe way to back up media and projects offsite. But setting up and maintaining an offsite system is time-consuming and complex. That’s because it often involves additional hardware, multiple software components and labor intensive processes. That’s not the case with Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces.

Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces’ fully integrated offsite storage solution is incredibly simple to enable, set up, and maintain—with zero learning curve. You can activate and configure it quickly from the Avid NEXIS Management Console while leveraging your Avid NEXIS user access controls for built-in end-to-end security. And it uses the same familiar Avid NEXIS workspace semantics, making management easy.

Plus, with Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces, it’s super easy for editors to offload media, finished content, and suspended projects from Avid NEXIS to the cloud. That means no more time-consuming manual processes and additional hardware for you to maintain.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a simple way to integrate a secure and effective backup solution that won’t disrupt production? As you know, integrating new systems can impact production if it involves any changes to the workflow or training. The good news is that teams can safely back up and park media to Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces without having to learn new processes or change their workflow. Workspaces can be synced to your cloudspaces, without requiring any editor involvement. And media can be parked in the cloud to free up Avid NEXIS storage space, so production keeps moving.

You Too Can Try Backing Up and Parking Projects in the Cloud – For Free!!!

Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces offers a fully integrated offsite storage solution—without requiring any additional hardware or software. Simply upgrade your Avid NEXIS Enterprise or Avid NEXIS | PRO storage systems to the latest release of the Avid NEXIS | FS file system software (2019.4 or later).  Then choose from a variety of subscription plans in your Avid Account and get 3 months of free Cloudspaces storage.

Stop investing money in NAS or DAS storage drives that add complexity and risk to production workflows every time you need extra storage. With Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces, you can match your storage expense to your business needs, easily scale up your capacity as needed, and safely park and back up media while leveraging Avid NEXIS to manage your on-premises workspaces and cloudspaces together for greater workflow efficiency.

Remember, all Avid NEXIS systems come with 2 TB of cloud storage  so you can start storing media in the cloud immediately. What are you waiting for?

Instantly expand your Avid NEXIS storage to the cloud

For small- to medium-size news, sports, and post-production organizations, Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces provides a super-simple way to park projects in the cloud, as well as sync onsite Avid NEXIS workspaces for easy offsite backup.

MediaCentral | Editorial Management Makes Life Easier for the Extended Post Production Team

As someone who spent 16 years as a post production engineer, I make it my job to understand the needs of the post production workflow. From these experiences has come a constant search for the right tools to solve problems and reduce friction for the clients that I support. This is why I’m so excited for the latest release of MediaCentral | Editorial Management. It’s a collaboration, workflow, and project management solution that perfectly complements the Media Composer creative toolset.

Editorial Management streamlines post production by providing the complete spectrum of workflow capabilities, seamlessly integrated into one simple solution. Editorial Management workflow allows editors who know and love Media Composer to edit the way they want to edit, while removing the distractions of some of the “worker bee” tasks that are still essential to the editorial process. The teammates that are integral to post production – producers, story editors, post-production supervisors, and production assistants – can now more easily and quickly take care of their part of the project pipeline. Editorial Management allows producers, story editors and others to access the project remotely to prep media and review the cut.

Editorial Management is an affordable solution that easily scales to accommodate small creative teams of two or up to 25. It effectively extends a team’s asset and project management capabilities beyond the confines of any video editing system, enabling producers, assistants, interns, and other non-editors to handle time-consuming media tasks as production ramps up. All of this can be done from anywhere you can access your VPN.

Media Composer interface with Editorial Management panel (bottom left)

The screenshot above shows the Media Composer interface with an embedded panel for Editorial Management in the lower left. This is a search and browse window that allows Media Composer users to search across the entire Avid NEXIS storage environment.


Serving the Entire Post Production Team

As most post professionals will agree, the industry’s adoption of file-based workflows has been a double-edged sword. No doubt, file-based workflows are more flexible and often faster than film or tape-based methods. But these workflows also introduce new complexities to the process, and in some cases, the non-tactile nature of files makes our jobs harder. It truly requires a team effort to get through post production in a timely manner. Thankfully, new tools are at last emerging to smooth out some of the wrinkles that file-based workflows introduced.

During my tenure in post production, our facility featured over 150 editing rooms available to our clientele. Though each room had an Avid Media Composer system, very few rooms were used for actual creative, “craft” editorial. Most of the edit rooms, bullpen spaces and teammates crouched over laptops were dedicated to managerial, preparatory and organizational tasks.  Recognizing this, Avid has brought many of these managerial, preparatory and organizational tools into in a lightweight and easily accessible tool, all while providing access to the same media without the constraints of being in the building.

The latest – and planned – enhancements to the Editorial Management workflow are a testament to Avid’s understanding of the landscape. It’s also proof of Avid’s commitment to building a platform serving all these vital roles within post production.


Benefits by Role

Simply put, Media Composer is a multipurpose tool with a vast array of capabilities that can serve the needs of many, which is now customizable for specific roles with the newly announced Media Composer Enterprise. And with Editorial Management, producers, story editors, post-production supervisors, and production assistants can easily focus on – and efficiently take care of – their tasks. Here’s how it benefits each person involved:

  • Production assistant – Can quickly and easily prepare and organize media.
  • Story editor – Can more effectively and quickly search for content and begin to build their narrative.
  • Post-production supervisor – Can easily keep their finger on the pulse of a project’s media, content, and organization.
  • Producer: Can find content with an easy-to-use tool and review edits in progress from any location, and to review cuts as the cut evolves.

Conducting a phonetic search within MediaCentral | Editorial Management

The screenshot above shows the web-based view used by the extended post production team to find media within Editorial Management. The terms that the user enters via phonetic search are at the top in the colored bubbles [film] [editor] [think] [doc]. Editorial Management analyzes the spoken words and finds any instances those words appear in any of the video stored on Avid NEXIS. This is a unique and powerful capability.

Creating a sequence with MediaCentral | Editorial Management

The screenshot above shows the view a producer would see when creating a sequence. In this view, the producer has selected four clips within the browser, and creates a simple string-out by right clicking and selecting ‘create sequence’.


Latest Features and More

In a nutshell, the latest release of Editorial Management makes it possible to:

  • Quickly prep and edit simple sequences in the new web browser timeline to create shot lists or string-outs
  • Easily assemble and create group clips to prep multicam shots for Media Composer editors
  • Find the right clips using the new Phonetic Index option, enabling dialogue search across all authorized Avid NEXIS workspaces

Should you be new to Editorial Management, I can assure you that this list barely scratches the surface of what post production teams can do with it. To review, Editorial Management enables teams to:

  • Collaborate efficiently. Editorial Management enables creative teams to work together more effectively —from finding clips and prepping sequences and projects, to reviewing and approving a final cut. Editors can easily browse, search, and access bins and clips on Avid NEXIS directly from their Media Composer | Ultimate or Enterprise interface. Production assistants can create and organize projects and bins using a simple web browser interface to support the editing team.
  • Get organized while cutting costs. No need to invest in expensive workstations or additional seats of Media Composer to jump-start new projects or handle reviews from anywhere. As a web-based solution, Editorial Management enables anyone on the team to create, browse, search for, organize, and manage projects, bins, and media—as well as play sequences—using any computer or mobile device. Its core indexing engine keeps track of all stored projects and media, so everyone on the team can view what’s available in real time.
  • Streamline project prep and review. With Editorial Management, production assistants can create and save subclips and simple sequences to Media Composer bins right from their browser to organize material into more manageable chunks for editors. It’s also possible to play subclips and rendered sequences created in Media Composer right in the browser, making it easy for non-editors to review and approve sequences from anywher

There’s a lot more to come. At NAB we are showing a technology preview specifically designed for multi-camera studio productions, enabling group clips to be easily captured from Avid FastServe on to Avid NEXIS, ready to use in Media Composer. This workflow will have unique appeal to studio-based shows, and even allows capturing in 1080p 23.98.

Editorial Management is new – and still emerging – technology that supports Avid’s post production clientele from both a technology and workflow standpoint. Editors will be able to focus on editing, while the extended team can more easily and quickly handle their parts of the project.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about the way Editorial Management is making life easier for everyone on the post production team. The best way to appreciate its power is seeing it in action. Come visit us at NAB to see a demo of a studio production workflow using MediaCentral | Editorial Management!

Creative Collaboration Made Simple

Add powerful, simple-to-deploy asset management capabilities to your file-based editing workflow with Avid MediaCentral | Editorial Management.

Post Production Collaboration on a Budget

For years, Avid has been leading the way for the media industry to seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges that the digitization of media has unleashed.  Since April of 2013, Avid has focused several resources to deliver on our promise to completely transform and advance broadcast and post-production workflows into this new age. This week, continuing that vision, we have delivered the latest release of MediaCentral | Editorial Management.  Purpose-built to accelerate post production, MediaCentral | Editorial Management enables creative teams to create and collaborate more effectively in this increasingly competitive environment.

For Avid editors, it provides a completely integrated media panel within Media Composer | Ultimate, making it easy to search and access bins and clips across Avid NEXIS. And it makes it easy for PAs to create and organize projects and bins using a simple browser interface to support the editing team—without requiring Media Composer. Through Avid’s unique HyperBin architecture, it delivers enhanced collaborative capabilities, enabling teams to stay in sync, have greater control over their media, and turn around their best work faster than ever before.  Resulting in the ability to accelerate the editing process.

Another request we have received is about managing and controlling the costs associated with post production, as well as being able to leverage the role of the Assistant Editor.  With this release of MediaCentral | Editorial Management, there is no need to invest in expensive workstations to jumpstart new projects or facilitate the review process.  MediaCentral | Editorial Management enables anyone on the team to create, browse, search for, organize, and manage projects, bins, and media—as well as play sequences—using any computer.

Finally, when you think about the end-to-end workflow associated with post production, the other key area that MediaCentral | Editorial Management dramatically expedites, is the process of finding and sharing media across Avid NEXIS or Avid NEXIS | PRO and multiple Media Composer | Ultimate workstations.  Thus, providing better collaborative efficiency while reducing the cost of operation. Its core indexing engine and service keep track of all stored projects and media, so everyone on your team can view what’s available in real time.

MediaCentral | Editorial Management is easy to deploy and maintain, so you’ll be up and running in no time. It installs through a streamlined configuration wizard and leverages your existing Avid NEXIS user management and access control configurations automatically, so team members only see the workspaces to which they have access.

I want to thank all our tremendous customers who have fed back critical insights, requests, and feature suggestions over the past few years. Your engagement is highly valued by the entire team as we work to develop the most robust file and workflow management for small to mid-sized creative teams in the world.

Creative Collaboration Made Simple

Add powerful, simple-to-deploy asset management capabilities to your file-based editing workflow with Avid MediaCentral | Editorial Management.