Auditing Your Broadcast Video Archiving Methods

Some of Netflix’s most-watched programming right now is the documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door. As director Jenny Popplewell told Men’s Health, the story is told solely through archival footage that includes home videos, news footage, and social media.

American Murder is a compelling example of how archival footage can be mined for stellar new programming. Most broadcasters have a treasure trove of material—footage, completed programming, text, graphics—slumbering in their archives, ready for new life. The question is, can you find what you’re looking for?

Your video archiving methods need to be top-notch for you to readily repurpose (or resell) your archival content, whether that’s to create brand new programming or to add context and color to current stories. With these best practices in tow, your team can make the most of your newsroom’s assets.

1. Tune Up Tagging

When creating tags and defining metadata is left up to personal preference, you end up with a mess of redundant or useless tags. Even a single-letter typo in a tag can make a file nearly impossible to find via search. Consider automating all or some of how you tag and index: systems that provide templates or prepopulate tags as you type let your team work faster and keep everything aligned.

2. Sync Up Storage

You’ve probably got some storage silos, and ransacking your servers to find a crucial item when you’re on deadline is enough to make an editor cry. A shared storage solution makes it easier to find and repurpose those hidden gems, virtually grouping flash, online, finishing, nearline, and archive storage systems into one searchable repository.

3. Refine Your Search Skills

Google has made everyone a little lazy. But the more specific you can be in a massive archive with millions of entries, the faster you’ll get the results you need. Every archivist should know how to use filters to search for audio, video, and metadata, but leveraging AI can make it even easier to navigate a media asset management system. AI helps archivists search by facial recognition, speech-to-text, phonetic search, and more. (Making sure your video and any text transcripts are stored together can help get the most out of an AI solution.)

4. Lean on Proxies

If your archiving system relies on just text, you may feel like you’re flying blind. If all you have is a description of some footage, and the only way to guarantee what’s in the shot is to fully restore the media back from the archive, that’s time wasted. Weaving in the ability to view a proxy of that footage speeds up how quickly you can find the exact footage you need—after all, you can pull back just the clips that you want rather than the whole archived feed. Keep a proxy view available in your nearline footage as well. That way, you can browse a proxy, make a selection in a timeline, and trigger the system to bring back just the parts you need. It’s the choice between restoring a whole game or just the game-winning play.

5. Triage with Thought and Care

Ideally, you could keep absolutely everything. You never know, right? In reality, there’s a limit to how much you can spend on storage, so choices need to be made. Many news organizations keep to the bare minimum: they store edited packages and transmitted shows.

The challenge of live production during the pandemic has demonstrated that this bare-minimum approach, though cost-effective on paper, does introduce certain risks. While live productions are creeping back slowly and cautiously, it’s worth considering a more expansive approach to archiving. This is the perfect opportunity for editorial and archive teams to collectively review how they triage archival assets to ensure that they meet the needs of the editorial team when new footage isn’t readily available.

Broadcasting + Cable says broadcast archives are a way out of the pandemic-induced content void. And great content always deserves a second look. Whether you’re about to come across a hit documentary in the making or just enough material to put together some best-of moments for an upcoming town festival, the footage could be lurking in your archives. Sharpen your video archiving methods and root out some of those exceptional files gathering dust in storage.

Media Storage for News Production: A Buyer’s Guide

Without the right storage, news teams face disruption and downtime—but determining the right storage system can be daunting and complicated. Cut through the confusion with this buyer’s guide.

Finding the Right-Sized Asset Manager for Your Post-Production Workflow

Likely no one on your team is begging to include more software in the post-production workflow. With so many pipes in the post pipeline, editors may resist adding a new tool to their pile.

Let’s take the MAM, for instance, a media asset management system most often suited to broadcast environments or large post facilities. In truth, a MAM can simplify workflows, whether you’re hunting down files or waiting for approvals. MAMs let every in-house and remote contributor access all production and archived assets, even when they’re stored across local and remote systems.

But the thing is, some MAMs are just too cumbersome for film or TV production. Many require professional services or an IT department to get them up and running, and afterward people may feel like they spend more time bowing to the needs of the MAM than getting the actual job done.

A broadcast-level MAM has something for everyone. But why struggle with a system if you’ll never use half its capabilities? Media asset management products come in a variety of flavors, and one size definitely does not fit all. Broadcast operations need the big guns—the capacity to do deep customization, for example, or to orchestrate all the steps in the ingestion, storage, and distribution of media.

But there’s another class of lighter-weight asset managers designed specifically for post-production workflows. They tend to be turnkey solutions designed to work right out of the box, without extensive IT support. They’re less expensive and easier to maintain, but they’re still high-powered enough to ease collaboration and integrate with your core editing software.

What’s in a Name?

If you’re on the hunt for an asset manager, don’t just go by name—you may hear of similar solutions lurking under the MAM moniker, or under the title “production asset manager” (PAM), which is used most typically to facilitate collaboration among teams using different tools. These solutions may be too robust for post teams simply looking for a way to organize their content, move assets across media storage tiers, and archive their media securely, with no need for all the automation possible in a PAM/MAM environment. Acronyms aside, the key is to find the right feature set for your operation.

An asset management tool for post production is a much different beast than traditional, heavy-duty MAMs. Generally, these solutions extend your project management capabilities beyond the confines of your editing system. They let PAs and other noneditors get a jump on some of the more time-intensive tasks as production ramps up. They help to track revisions amid a torrent of constantly changing assets, and can trace who touches each asset and how they changed it. The technology lets everyone, whether in-house or freelance, on location or working remotely, stay in sync as they share media.

Find Media Fast

An asset manager should let you search in a variety of ways. For example, you should be able to find all the clips with a specific line of dialogue by searching in a browser. Think about how easy that would make creating a stringout. The right asset manager will let you search for media phonetically, by metadata, or using any other criteria—even across multiple projects.

A web-based interface will also let anyone working remotely—story editors, producers, PAs—find and access the assets they need. For example, PAs can hop right in to a simple web browser, search for assets, and start organizing projects and bins. If the solution features a timeline, they may even be able to create and edit simple sequences to sync with the editors’ core editing software.

Reduce Bottlenecks

For the most part, all your post-production editors may care about is having easy access to their files. An asset manager designed especially for post-production workflows should let team members log media, prep content, group footage, and collaborate more efficiently without having to take turns.

An asset manager should remove bottlenecks, letting everyone on the team do their jobs in parallel. Rather than waiting for everyone to review all the dailies, for example, the right solution will make notations for every shot available to the entire team. If the director calls for a color adjustment on a shot, the colorist receives a notification and can get on it right away.

You don’t need a bear of a MAM to turbocharge your post pipeline. As teams are more distributed than ever, the right-sized asset manager can help your team to organize, search, prep, share, edit and review all of a project’s footage no matter where they are.

Want to improve your asset management workflow?

Learn how MediaCentral | Editorial Management delivers powerful yet simple workflow and media management for post-production teams.

Asset Management Tips: Helping News Teams Find Footage Faster

There’s an intriguing shot lurking in the AP Archive: In January 1998, President Bill Clinton is glad-handing a crowd and gives a brief hug to a young woman in a black beret.

What might have seemed like an inconsequential clip when it was first logged later became pure gold all because someone took the time to tag it with that woman’s name: Monica Lewinsky. Good asset management saved the day.

When the scandal broke, you can imagine how broadcast news organizations burned up their media search tools, ransacking their archives for footage of the pair in hopes that someone tagged a clip properly. It’s a telling example of how the right metadata can reveal the juiciest content. If your team sees asset management as more of a hassle than a help, mastering your metadata may just change their perspective for the better.

Find Footage Faster with Smarter Metadata

You’ve got footage coming in and lots of it, sourced from all over the place. Your team needs to find the right clips, ideally in seconds—not minutes and certainly not hours. If you’re not working on an end-to-end system, those clips might be stored on multiple systems: one for scripts, another for video, and maybe yet another one for the archives. To add yet another complication, these systems may be on different physical machines, forcing news producers to scurry from workstation to workstation.

Detailed metadata is the key to making all this content searchable. While your tireless crew is busy ingesting, logging, and tagging footage, smart use of metadata is their greatest superpower. Enable these tactics to power them up.

  • Standardize tags. At a minimum, your team needs to know what tags they’re working with. Provide a list of your most commonly used tags, so that everyone is on the same page (quite literally) when they’re tagging. You can stay consistent by looking for systems that provide templates or prepopulate tags as you type, or offer shortcut keys or predefined buttons. And if your team searches for the same tags often, you can save those searches and make them public to certain people or anyone on the system.
  • Allow for flexibility. On the one hand, you don’t want to create a metatagging free-for-all. But a predefined set of tags won’t cover everything, which means you’ll inevitably need to expand your palette of tags in your media search tools. In doing this, you’ll need to decide who can add new tags to the system, and how they’ll do it. In a fast-paced newsroom, you may not have time to approve suggested tags, but consider implementing a process that lets you review and refine the tags long-term. And while you want to log the footage as soon as possible, it’s also important to enable tagging at every stage of production, all the way through to archiving, to make sure the metadata is pertinent to everyone who might need to find an item.
  • Let tech lend a hand. While embracing more organized metadata processes is a baseline for success, investing in the right tech can be a real boon for efficiency. A spate of new technologies can help automate indexing and tagging, according to TV News Check. Scene- and facial-recognition applications, optical character recognition, and AI-based phonetic search can all automatically enrich metadata. The richer the metadata, the more ways someone has to find a shot and help the team meet aggressive deadlines. On the horizon, AI is set to deliver even more capabilities, such as indexing footage in real time so that it’s discoverable at the frame level. The right tech can enhance your current in-house system and allow for a more natural search experience throughout the ingesting and tagging process.

Let the Excavation Begin

How would you rather have your news team spend their time—crafting compelling stories or performing search after frustrating search to find the right clips? There’s plenty of treasure in your assets, so don’t let it get buried in a pile of useless tags. Strong metadata practices paired with a system that lets a disparate team collaborate as one can help your news get on air, on time, every day.

As Kristan Bullett, managing director of Piksel, told the audience at last year’s IBC, “Everyone wants to save money, and everyone wants to move faster. So, fix the metadata.” ‘Nuff said.

Find Media Faster

With even more options for search, the latest MediaCentral streamlines your workflow and accelerates production.

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.

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