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4 Ways to Use Hybrid Cloud Storage for Post Production

In industry circles, the topic of “the cloud” has been broached with doses of both curiosity and skepticism for years. Few post houses are ready to take the full leap to a native cloud approach to post production—and, in many cases, it wouldn’t be practical. But questions around security, performance, and cost have started to dwindle as post teams realize they can blend the cloud with traditional media storage.

A hybrid cloud storage model offers advantages that are critical in today’s post environment: it readily addresses challenges of scale, remote collaboration, redundancy, and security. But what does hybrid storage look like, and how is it best suited for a post-production workflow?

What Is a Hybrid Cloud Storage Model?

This model does what it says on the tin: certain media assets are stored on the premises, while certain assets are stored in the cloud. For example, you might choose to have online storage on prem and a small amount of nearline on prem for parking recently completed projects, while moving archive assets—say, older than 90 days—to the cloud. A hybrid model could also enable a hybrid workflow, where some elements of post, such as rendering, are done in the cloud, while others, including some of the editing and review processes, are still done at a post house’s physical offices.

In a hybrid model, you’ve still got your own servers and machines to manage, but you’ve allocated certain workflows to the cloud. The extent of what’s done in-facility versus remotely can shift depending on the post house and project, but regardless, hybrid storage enables more flexible working environments for post production.

The hybrid cloud storage model has four strengths to offer that a solely on-prem storage model cannot:

1. Scale for Burst Capacity

A well-diversified post house won’t need to bring every person or machine on deck for every project. But there will be times when your on-prem capabilities simply aren’t enough, and a new project will require a nimble storage solution that you can ramp up or down as needed. This is where SaaS-based cloud services come into play: providing the additional computing power and remote access via PCoIP so that editors have secure and reliable access to the same editorial workflows they would otherwise use on-prem machines for. If your on-prem and cloud storage keeps your files on the same system and both storage instances are properly synced, the experience for your team will be seamless.

The best part? Rather than having to purchase and install machines over days or weeks, you can be up and running in the cloud within hours. The cloud also lets you pay just for what you use.

Burst capacity looms particularly large these days. The pandemic interrupted production, but the demand for finished content is still increasing. As the industry swings back into production, it will have to contend with a tremendous backlog of content waiting to go through post. The post houses that can quickly scale operations to handle this backlog will have a massive edge over the competition.

2. Enable Remote Collaboration

Remote editing is perhaps the most valuable feature of the cloud. With the right technology, post can happen from almost anywhere.

Although certain parts of the post-production workflow are solitary affairs, film and TV are inherently collaborative. Employing a cloud approach can bridge the geographical gaps. Feedback is instant, for one thing, and notes can be implemented immediately. Various departments get to see exactly what’s being done at all times, which can inspire a more cohesive creative approach overall, on top of simply making the process more efficient.

A hybrid cloud storage model makes it possible to bring in the best post-production talent, even if they’re thousands of miles away. Post teams can still have it both ways, though, with people working on files on-prem alongside remote team members working on the same project. This is where a hybrid approach can really sing: those who want to be (or must be) off-site can do so without sacrificing the connectivity that collaboration requires.

3. Streamline Review and Approval

Of course, editing can’t be completed without review and approval. There’s still plenty of value to be found in on-prem R&A, particularly in the thick of the edit process. But an increasingly decentralized post-production workflow is pushing post professionals to adjust to remote collaboration—and that includes R&A.

Instead of having to export and host on a separate, secure screener site or physically bring in executives and producers to screen, a cloud solution will allow remote access to media that needs fast approval. Plenty of productions already had to come up with workarounds for off-site producers; having these materials in the cloud simply streamlines the process. It helps teams avoid waiting for physical media to arrive, those well-known “I can’t access this?” messages, and the lag between physical R&A for off-site execs—no more ad hoc approval emails.

4. Better Manage Costs

While an investment in cloud storage can be similar to on-prem, that cost is broken up monthly, quarterly, or annually rather than being a significant up-front expenditure. If this sounds like a distinction without a difference, keep an open mind—shifting this line item from capex to an operational cost can have its advantages if you need to scale quickly. This model also saves post houses from overprovisioning on-prem hardware, which then sits underutilized much of the time. With a hybrid model, you can pay for just what you need at any given time, rather than provisioning for peak capacity (not to mention covering the cost of housing, powering, and servicing underutilized hardware).

As the industry shifts more toward flexible, hybrid work environments, the cloud will become all the more indispensable. Technology will continue to enable new storage opportunities that post teams need—the only question is whether they embrace the cloud head on or opt to weave it into parts of the workflow.

Plan Your Journey to the Cloud

Planning to migrate workflows to the cloud? Here’s your roadmap.




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.




Editors Have Proof of Concept for Flexible Work Environments. Now What?

The media and entertainment industry has the green light to restart production—but while there are still health risks, many remote video editing workflows will stay in place. The question is for how long, and which aspects of these flexible work environments will go on to become the industry’s new normal after lockdown ends.

Post-production and VFX companies were not required to close during quarantine. In fact, many in North America and Europe have continued to service existing orders through a combination of remote workflows and social distancing measures for finishing procedures, such as Dolby Atmos mixes that need to be performed on site.

Meanwhile, trade bodies like the UK Screen Alliance and the Motion Picture Editors Guild are providing guidelines for working safely, aiming to get the post sector back to the office to limit the expected fallout of widespread redundancies.

Todd Downing, ACE (Mrs. America), is looking forward to returning but feels understandably hesitant about what the new rules mean in practice. “I don’t think we are ready to be in enclosed spaces with others right now,” he says. “But I am optimistic that with all the scientists studying the virus we can figure out how to make that a reality soon.”

Even after it’s safe to return, though, the industry will still have confirmed that it can support remote production. “For a lot of people in the industry, this was not an obvious assumption,” says Michele Sciolette, CTO at Cinesite, in an interview for Creative Planet Network. “Today we know, with direct first-hand experience, that remote production is possible while maintaining a high level of productivity.” Cinesite supports studios in Vancouver, Montreal, London, and Germany.

This changing mindset seems to run along the chain from studio executives to finishing boutique. As the industry recalibrates, it’s opening up to the idea of shifting away from the former centralized model, where the production office and facility were the operating hubs for creative personnel, toward more flexible work environments.

“A hybrid model—where some aspects of production continue to be office-based while others are done remotely—would have a lot of advantages,” Sciolette said, in an interview continued on Cinesite’s site. “This would allow us to address the limitations we face with the current ‘all-remote’ setups while giving us the flexibility to scale up our teams beyond the constraints of our physical office space, as well as providing more flexibility to our team members and reducing our carbon footprint.”

In truth, the industry had already begun implementing hybrid architectures where media is held on-prem and/or in external data centers, and is accessible from a facility or remotely via cloud using PCoIP remote display tools. COVID-19 has fast-tracked the strategy to ensure a far greater degree of distributed work across workspaces going forward.

We have proved during COVID that remote offlines work, says Jai Cave, technical operations director at UK post facility Envy, in an interview for AV Magazine . Envy rolled out over 100 remote edit suites, and when this period is over, he envisions an increased demand for remote offline for specific projects where it solves a problem. However, a lot of editors, producers, and production managers will want to come back to a facility for the improved creative communication it brings, he says.

He predicts the growth of a blended solution that has editors and producers spend a few days of the week in a facility and work the rest of the week remotely if that suits them.

Sciolette believes that the winning formula will come from the flexibility to take the best of both worlds: stay remote when it’s convenient and meet in person when it’s necessary.

After all, remote video editing workflows present some challenges regardless of the technology in place. For instance, calibrating reference displays demands completing some aspects of production in a specific room. It’s hard to fully recreate every kind of person-to-person interaction virtually.

“In documentaries, more than any other genre, you are writing the story in the edit, and directors feel a loss of control if done remotely,” confirms Jack Jones, technical director at documentary specialist Roundtable. “Directors are keen to get back to the facility.”

Charlotte Layton, commercial director of The Farm Group, recognizes that going totally remote means giving up some key elements of collaboration. “The question is: How do we keep a sense of community? And how do you celebrate an emotional journey when everyone is disparate?” she says.

The producers of a recent broadcast project opted to meet at The Farm Group’s central London location (observing PPE protocols) at regular intervals under lockdown, according to Layton, “to feel more connected” to the work in progress.

“There is a huge benefit to having clients in a suite, however the amount of time they spend with creative talent may change,” says John Rogerson, CEO of London post house Halo. “Remote working is not a silver bullet and only makes sense when a client needs it.”

However, working separately until the very final grade or sign-off stages is convenient for production executives as well as DPs and editors, and it may become a fixture of the industry.

“If traveling to distant locations year after year is affecting your life in a negative way, we’ve now proven it unnecessary and perhaps inefficient,” says Roger Barton, ACE, who helped edit Paramount Pictures’ feature The Tomorrow War under lockdown.

“Personally, I find myself happy cutting at home,” Barton says. “I very much miss the camaraderie, but I’m more creative here with fewer distractions, and I’m probably working more hours than I ever have. I’m happy to do it because it’s on my own schedule, and that creates a balance that I enjoy. The flexibility to do so is one of the lessons I hope we walk away with.”

Barton acknowledges that this won’t be true for everyone. Some are calling on the industry to use the enforced break to put a check on some of its more draconian work practices. Zack Arnold, ACE (Cobra Kai), struck a chord with his argument that decried “the ridiculously long hours, the chronic sleep deprivation, the complete and utter lack of work-life balance, and the lives that are destroyed . . . by the perpetual content machine that is Hollywood” of pre-COVID normality. If ever there was a time to set boundaries and demand change, it’s now, he urged.

If nothing else, the crisis has proved the prudence of a business continuity policy centered on routing media to work-from-home locations. It may also have triggered a change in the way craftspeople work within the industry—some of which may be here for good.

“We’ve all been asking for more remote working and been told up until now that, for security reasons, this wasn’t possible. But now everyone can see just how much more convenient it can be,” says Cheryl Potter, who edited HBO drama The Nevers remotely. “Good luck getting that genie back in the bottle!”

Powering Greater Creators—From Anywhere

Yesterday, remote work was a nice-to-have; today, it’s essential. Get the resources your team needs to work successfully in any environment.




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.




Future-Proofing Your Media Archive for Long-Term Monetization

What if you’re sitting on a gold mine of digital media assets and don’t even know it?

With a robust media archive, your media files will be more secure and accessible for the long term. Without one, you risk throwing away money at some point in the future, especially if some of that media grows in value over time.

For instance, through a combination of syndication, reruns, and lasting popularity, the Seinfeld franchise has earned a staggering $3 billion since 1995, according to CNBC. Each time someone new buys the rights to show that content, you can be certain they’re reaching back into the show’s archival vaults for the best possible media.

But with the media, their codecs and the associated metadata to consider, effectively maintaining a media archive is easier said than done. The variety of media assets for any project has grown exponentially, coming from sources such as lower-cost cameras, mobile devices, and automated studio cameras, on top of traditional media content from satellite, tape, and disk. Each of these will have their own combo of codecs, file wrappers, and resolutions, plus a variety of metadata which may or may not accompany all of these assets.

In 20 years’ time, how will you find that one clip of that one person saying that one sound bite, instantly and from anywhere, in an accessible format that’s ready to be played back and sold? Or, maybe more simply: in 10 years, when you buy your first 8K TV, will you be able to watch your favorite episode of Seinfeld on it, in glorious 8K, because their media archivist did a good job?

To achieve a monetizable, future-proofed media archive, your team needs a clear strategy. Here’s how to handle taxonomy and storage and ensure that whatever media you may need stays accessible.

Thorough Taxonomy

Successfully archiving media files requires a consistent plan for logging, tagging, and categorizing the content. The taxonomy needs to be accurate, detailed enough to be useful, and consistently deployed across the entire library so searching through it is a comprehensive experience. And that tagging needs to be affordably produced.

Traditional approaches often rely on manual data entry, which is prone to human error and overall makes for an expensive and time-consuming methodology. One solution is to leverage the power of AI or machine learning to automate much of this process. AI can help with extracting and cataloging file or data feed metadata, and by leveraging scene recognition, facial recognition, and speech-to-text transcription.

As you can imagine, this isn’t a simple process to build from scratch, and many of these technologies are still being refined. But automation should still play a role in reducing the time and effort necessary for accurate metadata extraction—which makes your library more searchable and, ultimately, monetizable.

Long-Term Storage

Consider the requirements for media files in terms of their immediate, short-term, and longer-term storage. The storage needs to be secure, redundant, and dynamic enough that it can expand (and contract) as the media archive requires. Consider automation here, too, leaning on user-defined terms to automatically migrate assets from the most expensive storage tiers to the least expensive tiers of storage as required.

Also take into account longer-term archiving: plan for the costs associated with cloud storage, which lets the team easily share content across multiple sites and migrate content from LTO libraries to the cloud.

Convenient Access

As you develop a strategic approach to how the team will access content, remember the lessons of this pandemic-fueled year. Giving local, multisite, and remote teams access to content from anywhere is critical. Media companies may continue to weigh the benefits of the cloud against the costs, but the past few months have shown that making content readily available from anywhere drives higher efficiency, promotes collaboration, and allows media companies to leverage all their assets into vital revenue.

Make a point to review the technology emerging around how media might be stored in the future. Also keep an eye on new standards that will enable content to be accessed long term. For example, look to ACES, an industry standard which deploys a future-proof color pipeline that can protect assets for years to come.

A comprehensive plan for archiving media files helps the team work better in the here and now and lets media live up to its full potential for the future. If your video is left sitting—whether in a tape library or spinning storage, on-prem or in the cloud—without the necessary metadata that allows it to be quickly and easily found, it can’t be a monetizable asset paying its own way. Formalize your strategy so that your media can become more than data filling up a drive.

Ready to Future-Proof Your Assets?

MediaCentral | Asset Management manages the entire lifecycle of your content, making it easy to browse and retrieve media across multiple tiers of storage for reuse or repurposing.




Content, Everywhere: Bringing the Cloud to Studio Production

Recently, the conversation around the need to access content anywhere has been dominated by the need to work from home in response to the global pandemic. But the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create this need—it only accelerated a movement that was already gathering steam.

For some years, we’ve seen production fragmented across the globe. It’s not uncommon to see outside shoots in Western Europe, sound stages in London, post-production in LA, sound mix in San Francisco, and VFX in Montreal. With the need to produce high-quality content more rapidly and more securely, it’s become evident that studios need to reevaluate their processes for media management and content access.

Thinking about this challenge only in the context of working from home obscures the many ways studios stand to benefit from comprehensive, cloud-enabled, centralized content access at every step of the creation process. Here are just a few of those opportunities.

1. Franchise Library Management

With the possible exception of Christopher Nolan movies, multi-million-dollar budgets are rarely granted to productions that don’t already have a pre-built fan base. Besides, the proliferation of delivery platforms incentivizes studios to create franchise material for multiple platforms: think for instance of The Fast and The Furious, with eight main movies plus a spin-off, two direct-to-video short films, and an animated Netflix series (not to mention multiple video games, theme park attractions, and a live show).

This explosion of franchise content has a unique impact on editorial teams. With devoted fan bases scrutinizing every detail, it’s critical that editorial teams stay true to the franchise, studying legacy content as if it were historical research. They need easy access to rush, projects, and production notes so they can bring that research forward into their new projects.

In light of this growing need, the cloud presents an opportunity to rethink library management—reframing it less as a library than as a global approach to reviewing the life of assets, from pre-production to archive, and envisioning how new technology can help support the creative process with ready access to media, enabling reuse of content in a way that was not possible before.

2. New Production Timelines

We can thank subscription platforms for shrinking production timelines: the need for subscription growth requires more and more content, requiring in turn even faster turnaround times. What’s particularly incredible is that, even as quantity grows, quality is growing with it. We’ve never before had such a high quantity of quality content to consume.

Delivering on both these promises—speed and quality—requires an obsessive attention to efficiency across the post pipeline. Here again is an opportunity for cloud-enabled content access to change the equation, not as a replacement of on-premise technology but as an extension of it. The objective is to give creative teams remote access to the content so that they can work even more collaboratively than before. Where before, the stages of the post pipeline were distinct and linear, emerging workflows can align the different stages of the creative process, allowing multiple workstreams to happen at once and more effective collaboration, readily moving content back and forth between different stages without friction.

3. Work from Everywhere

Many other industries embraced remote work long before stay-at-home orders made it a necessity. The media and entertainment industry is different in the sense that a production is a massive team effort, and one that has relied heavily on long hours of face-to-face engagement—working from home has never been seen as an option.

The pandemic cracked (but did not break) this barrier to remote work. However, studios have an opportunity to embrace this change and potentially extend the capabilities built over the last few months of crisis to work with the talent they want, independent of where that talent lives.

The objective here is not to change the creative process but to better support creatives with a new way to work that is better aligned to their personal needs. Some people will want to go to the office every day, others will want to work from home, and some will want to work wherever they happen to find themselves.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The current situation has shown that the cloud is not an objective, but an enabler. The real goal is remote capabilities—the ability to access and work collaboratively on content from everywhere.

The pandemic accelerated the investment in remote capabilities, but we are still on the cusp of understanding what these capabilities will mean for the industry. The next three years will be telling, as we see how studios uncover and embrace these new opportunities.

What Can the Cloud Do for You?

Talk to Avid about how cloud capabilities can open new opportunities for your studio.




How to Defeat Pesky Post-Production Bottlenecks

The demand for content has exploded over the last decade. Meanwhile, shooting ratios are ballooning, and that footage is at ever-higher resolutions. These factors leave post-production teams managing fiercely tight deadlines, massive files, and complex workflows—a perfect editing storm.

As industry pressure bears down on post-production teams, many may have grown used to simply making it work. But tech solutions may ease these pain points. Here are some common bottlenecks in video post production, along with some ways to open up the flow.

Cross-Team Collaboration (From Anywhere)

The current pandemic may have accelerated remote collaboration, but post-production teams have always required some degree of collaboration between post facilities and on-set crews. These teams must stay agile to match the pace of most productions’ condensed timelines. Delays due to slow uploads/downloads of dailies or waiting for a shipped drive aren’t going to cut it. There are a variety of ways to facilitate content sharing, even while it is being shot, such as streaming proxies or file-based transfers.

Efficient collaboration, whether within a single facility or amongst a distributed workforce, remains important farther down the post pipeline too, driving home the need for a common environment where users are able to work collaboratively on the same projects and bins. A hybrid cloud/on-prem model offers a convenient solution for users to access content from anywhere and edit and publish at low res, while synching with high res content that lives in on-premises storage.

Time-Consuming Transcoding

Transcoding is still mercilessly time-consuming, even when it’s possible to check that little “transcode in background” box. Although camera codecs are increasingly friendly to the post process, and NLEs now intrinsically understand camera card structure, the technology is still a ways out from promising a proxy-less future.

Establishing a “project codec” is one way to cut back on bottlenecks that stem from back-and-forth transcoding, including the potential loss of metadata. Using a common format and codec for the production wherever possible will significantly cut down on the time spent waiting around and fretting over missing metadata.

The codec you choose should depend on the team’s needs. For heavy visual effects, for example, consider something that can cross operating systems, like Avid DNxHD® HQ.

Logging, Tagging, and Transcribing

When an editor can’t find a specific take for a director, either because it hasn’t been tagged properly or it ended up in the wrong bin, it’s a dispiriting moment at best.

Ingesting massive amounts of footage (and subsequently logging and tagging it all) is essential, but with the increase in shooting ratios, it’s become a borderline Herculean task. However, there are ways to automate this process.

Seek out tech solutions that enable productions to log and tag footage as it’s being created. For instance, phonetic indexing can automatically sync each source clip to its associated line in the script. Similarly, dialogue search, which enables users to browse footage by words or phrases, can save hours of time—not just for junior team members who would normally have to complete that task, but for everyone working on the project who no longer has to wait or sift through footage.

Or take transcribing: automated transcription won’t perfectly replicate human transcription, but the time tradeoff is often worth a slight decrease in quality. Alternatively, for productions that need word-perfect transcription, beginning with an automated transcription is a massive head start.

Security Leaks

Leaks of high-profile projects can wreck years of work and cost a hefty sum. For Larson Studios, the smaller post-production house that handled post for Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, leaks were financially devastating and led them to implement an entirely new (and less efficient) workflow.

After their servers were hacked, Larson paid a $50,000 ransom to avoid the release of the fifth season of OITNB, according to Variety. The season leaked anyway. The weak link in the chain was an old computer that was running Windows 7. Even so, Larson Studios spent six figures on a new security system and began separating audio and video files, even though it caused a major workflow slowdown.

It was an extreme solution to an admittedly extreme situation. But most security measures recommended by the Content Delivery and Security Association will lead to some amount of bottleneck, so it’s necessary to budget for the extra time these steps require. Easy precautions, though, like running up-to-date software and operating systems on all machines, can save the whole team from some of the biggest potential headaches.

Don’t Panic

It’s worth accounting for post bottlenecks, because some will come at you no matter how well you plan. (There’s always a chance a sequence just won’t work and will need to be reshot.) Scan your video post-production workflow with a critical eye and make note of where inefficiencies are most likely to occur. If better teamwork alone can’t smooth out those bottlenecks, take another look at how you can expedite the processes themselves.

Ultimately, an end-to-end tech solution that enables efficient collaboration, automates time-consuming tasks, and remains secure all the while can take strained post-production workflows and open them back up.

The State of Video Production 2020 Report

What technology’s game-changing, and what’s all hype? Is the current talent pipeline sufficient? Industry professionals share their expert views on these questions and more.




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

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My IBC Experience

I’m back from another IBC, my 12th, and it was an exciting IBC as the show was full of new developments that continue to push the industry forward at a significant pace.  IBC for many years was often a repeat of what was shown and discussed at NAB for a lot of companies and was an opportunity to reinforce key messaging, as well as show incremental enhancements to product announcements made back at NAB the prior April.

The Avid booth at IBC 2019

Due to the accelerated pace of an ever changing media and entertainment landscape driven by consumers demand for content delivered on their devices on their time, IBC has become a launchpad for new innovations and major new partnership announcements, many of which have happened in the relatively short timeframe between NAB and IBC.

One of the major key announcements at IBC was centered around social media and digital distribution and the MediaCentral platform.  Avid unveiled a new and improved MediaCentral | Publisher app, a first-of-its-kind SaaS offering for the MediaCentral platform, powered by Wildmoka. Not only does this significantly improve the software’s ability to get content out fast across more social and digital platforms, but also it enables media companies to insert ads and calls to action that drive revenue on those platforms while engaging with and building their audience.

Data shows that there are over 5 billion unique mobile phone users in the world who are increasingly accessing content on mobile devices that are getting more powerful, with the bulk of their time spent browsing video content.  Of course, the ramifications here are significant both operationally and economically. As more eyes move to mobile platforms, so have advertisers, with digital ad spending eclipsing television ad spending for the first time recently.

MediaCentral | Publisher app

Data also shows that getting the story out first across social and digital platforms significantly increases a media company’s ability to realize more revenue and build their audience and the difference can be a matter of minutes or even seconds.  For news, sports, and media companies, establishing that one-to-one relationship with consumers on social and digital platforms is critical to the present and future of the business.

This is why Avid delivered a more robust way to deliver fast, and deliver first, across all platforms.  MediaCentral l Publisher auto-provisions everything you need, provides tools to enhance content (aspect ratio resizing, closed captioning, titling, 3D motion graphics overlays, and more), enables audience engagement through interactive calls to action (think sponsorship and branding), and allows for ad insertion using server side pre, mid, and post roll ads.

Always forward-thinking, Avid showcased a tech preview of its IP contribution and distribution solution called FastServe l Stream. As part of a partnership with Microsoft® and Haivision® it was a showcase of IP contribution and distribution that leverages Avid’s FastServe | Stream technology and its ability to accept incoming SRT streams from any SRT enabled device or hublet. SRT is the open source protocol from Haivision that enables secure reliable transport of content across standard internet connections, but also it was a launch partner of SRT Hub. SRT Hub is an initiative between Microsoft® and Haivision® that leverages the SRT protocol and delivers a SaaS offering that enables the routing of video across the Azure network (live and file based), for delivering content securely from anywhere to anywhere using any SRT enabled device or any SRT hublet.

This combined solution enables news and sports organizations to expand their coverage at a lower cost (think a single reporter with an SRT enabled mobile device covering a story vs. sending a truck or video crew with a journalist) while not compromising on quality for both on premise and cloud-based news and sports productions.  Avid showed the ability to accept incoming SRT streams either from an SRT enabled device or from SRT Hub, unwrap and rewrap that content in an Avid friendly format, and check that streamed media into an Avid Production environment for fast access via MediaCentral or Media Composer.

In the future, companies will be able to plug Avid tools into any IP based workflow including news, sports, and remote live production scenarios where companies are increasingly adopting IP based solutions to deliver content over standard internet connections.  This not only lowers costs (satellite or fiber) but also reduces the resources required to deliver an event allowing the bulk of the production crew and talent to remain in place in the studio while still delivering a compelling broadcast.

SRT Hub at IBC

It also enables broader coverage by news and sports crews so that they can send fewer resources to cover any story with just a reporter and an SRT enabled device.  Last but not least, it allows users to route content easily across the Azure network to deliver content faster to more digital and social destinations leveraging the SRT hub running in the Azure cloud for occasional and 24×7 linear channel delivery use cases.

Here’s a rundown of other exciting solutions shared at this year’s IBC in Amsterdam:

 

  • Media Composer will deliver native support for Apple’s ProRes RAW camera codec and support for ProRes playback and encoding on Windows. In addition, Apple® will provide 64-bit decoders for DNxHR and DNxHD codecs within the Pro Video Formats package that is available from Apple as a free download for all users.

 

  • IBC was the European Debut of Media Composer which created a massive buzz when it launched at NAB in April. The user interface was redesigned for better, more efficient use as well as enabling custom user profiles that expose only the capabilities needed by different roles within any broadcast, film, or post facility. Though, it’s perhaps the work that was done under the hood which enables distributed processing that is just as noteworthy; it allows available CPU cycles on the network to be leveraged for rendering purposes significantly diminishing the time it takes to render even UHD effects and content.

 

  • Avid Edit On Demand is Avid’s cloud-based editing solution, and it’s not just Media Composer running in the cloud. Rather, is a full infrastructure that includes compute, NEXIS Cloud storage, and bandwidth all auto provisioned and running in the cloud allowing users to spin up the resources they need to take on any job paying only for what they use. This runs in Azure and includes Teradici clients for secure access and File Catalyst for quickly moving content into and out of the cloud.  There is an early access program and you can sign up here.

 

  • Avid’s Audio group continues to make waves in the industry, having announced the Avid S1 and S4 consoles at Summer NAMM in Nashville. Those consoles were on display on the show floor and in a meeting room where users could see it in action. Perhaps the most important thing to note about the Avid S4 and the Avid S1 is that now anyone can take advantage of what was once only reserved for larger budget productions. Both consoles offer high end capabilities with attractive economics and a variety of I/O possibilities that meet the demands of any sized production.

 

  • Avid’s graphics team also announced its next generation of graphics server hardware, Maestro l Engine 4K, which has higher channel counts, supports HDR, UHD, IP, and SDI I/O. Maestro l Engine drives Avid graphics solutions and leverages the Epic Unreal engine for rendering photo realistic images in real time for use with virtual sets, data-driven augmented reality, and video wall solutions for news and sports. This enables broadcasters to economically change the look and feel of their news and sports programs while also engaging audiences on traditional and digital platforms.

IBC was exhausting (in the best way) and Avid had no shortage of new innovations and new partnerships to highlight.  It is an amazing time to be a part of this industry as the disruption that is happening is like no other time in the history of broadcast and media and entertainment from a technology and economic perspective.

I’m looking forward now to NAB and what I know will be more new innovations that continue to move the industry further!

 

WATCH ALL IBC HIGHLIGHTS




Hit Rewind on IBC 2019

Another great IBC is in the books! We unveiled a handful of new and improved products that enhance our existing lineup of flexible, collaborative tools to help creators like you get the job done. To us, the highlights of the show were all about connecting with attendees and talking everything workflow solutions.

Demos and training sessions led by Avid pros were valuable for hands-on learning and discovery of key features that benefit audio, video, and broadcast media. Visitors on the show floor were able to check out many of our new and existing solutions, with editing, graphics, media management, storage, and collaboration tools at the ready.

As always, the IBC show is a platform for lots of big news. This year, there was no bigger story than the new partnership between The Walt Disney Studios and Microsoft, who are innovating new ways to create, produce and distribute content in the cloud, and Avid is thrilled to be working closely with them. Variety gave its take on this watershed development for the media and entertainment business.

Jeff Rosica of Avid, Ben Havey of Disney Studios, and Tad Brockway of Microsoft

Our speaking sessions were a hit too, with Oscar®-winning editor Chris Dickens and music editor Andy Patterson on hand to discuss Paramount’s 2019 musical masterpiece Rocketman.

If you couldn’t make it to the show, we’ve got you covered. Check out these highlights from IBC 2019 and browse our social media channels to see the updates we posted from Amsterdam.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube | Pinterest

Modern solutions and refreshed features

In today’s cluttered world of content consumption, it’s essential that your breaking news and creative productions are published quickly and seamlessly. Our new SaaS offering, which debuted at IBC, is powered by Wildmoka and pushes your compelling content straight to social media—boosting viewership with a few clicks.

Pro Tools also got a refresh with the latest release, powering creators to mix bigger, smarter, and faster so that they can flex their creative muscles. Looking for a bargain to kick off your next big sound? The Avid S4 is coming soon and packs the power of Pro Tools | S6 for budget-conscious pros, whether you’re creating music, designing sound, mixing immersive audio, or teaching audio production.

Here’s the scoop on everything new and improved from Avid:

 

MediaCentral | Publisher

MediaCentral l Publisher, a new SaaS offering powered by Wildmoka, empowers media producers to create content, add graphics and branding, and publish news and sports videos quickly to stay ahead of the competition.

Start sharing on social

 

Media Composer

Avid’s flagship video editing system Media Composer 2019 is reimagined for today’s—and tomorrow’s—generation of media makers, with a new user experience and a customizable role-based interface built for large teams.

What’s new in editing

 

FastServe

FastServe | Ingest, Live Edit, and Playout are tightly integrated with Avid NEXIS and MediaCentral to accelerate ingest, editing, and playout workflows while supporting higher channel counts and a lower overall cost.

Find your workflow

 

Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces

IBC marked the European debut of Avid NEXIS | Cloudspaces™, a powerful tool that takes the stress out of media management by auto-provisioning cloud storage to leverage the power of Microsoft Azure.

Check out the cloud

 

Pro Tools

From master music creators and aspiring artists to top-echelon audio post professionals and engineers, Pro Tools 2019 enables you to work faster with more creative flexibility and collaboration on the most complex projects.

Discover your sound

 

Avid S4 and S1

The new Avid S4 brings the power of Pro Tools | S6 to budget-conscious professionals, while the soon-to-be-delivered Avid S1 gives you the speed and software integration you need to deliver better-sounding mixes faster.

Mix music like a pro

 

If you want more information about these solutions or any of Avid’s new offerings, getting in touch is a breeze. Connect with us to explore your options for seamless productions, no matter the size of your next audio, video, or broadcast media production.

 

DROP US A NOTE

New style, same Avid

In case you missed it we also unveiled a new look and feel for Avid at IBC. The change is subtle, stemming from our need for a bold, modernized way to share who we are with all the amazingly talented creators, editors, and producers in audio, video, and broadcast media.

In the coming months you’ll spot small changes on our website and in our email communication that reflect this style tune-up. Have feedback? Get in touch and drop us a note!

In the meantime, keep checking back for IBC highlights, more information about our new solutions, and the latest news about everything Avid.

 

Oscar is a registered trademark and service mark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.