“The key in building a true media factory is the requirement to define thousands of distribution instruction sets and the ability to save these varying instructions as profiles so that triggering a workflow becomes as easy as requesting an asset, or a group of assets, in a particular profile.”
Since the late 1990s, media companies and broadcasters have been searching for the elusive media factory, an all-encompassing workflow where media files enter and thousands of versions exit with little or no labour required. The concept of a media factory was conceived to simplify and automate content delivery to multiple platforms, focusing on non-linear issues due to their inherent complexity. Instead of building a new workflow for each new media distribution requirement, a media factory provides a special workflow design to initiate, manage and control thousands of configurations automatically.
To create a ‘true’ media factory, media processing tools need to be stacked in a unique, looping design so that a single workflow can connect to any of the customer’s third-party vendor systems: transcoders, audio level controls, caption management, digital rights management, content distribution network interfaces; everything that is required to process media needs to be part of the stack. The key in building a true media factory is the requirement to define thousands of distribution instruction sets and the ability to save these varying instructions as profiles so that triggering a workflow becomes as easy as requesting an asset, or a group of assets, in a particular profile.
The aim of the version factory is to provide a single efficient and cost-effective workflow that supports millions of file input to output configurations that can be managed from a single operator screen. This technology coupled with BPM, a highly flexible solution that centralises business process management to provide a ‘joined up’ and efficient media process model across enterprise, provides a true media factory.
The BPM system enables media companies and broadcasters to simplify and redesign their workflows according to business requirements rather than technical processes. Efficiency and higher quality are achieved by automating countless tasks, whilst reducing manual intervention minimises operational errors. This allows the day-to-day media production, packaging and publishing processes to be automated wherever possible and the use of the available resources and workloads optimised accordingly. It provides customers with the tools to implement thousands of business-driven media workflows, each designed specifically around their unique requirements.
An important addition to the media factory is SMPTE Interoperable Master Format (IMF) methodology as it enables and supports profile creation and modification. In order to take advantage of IMF methodologies, the MAM/workflow system must have the ability to support extended metadata for efficient content management. This is why leading MAM software companies have begun to implement a true object relational database as their core product platform, to facilitate this expansion of connections and relationships into hundreds and thousands of reliable connections. The first design foundation required to support an IMF Media Factory is efficient content management, to easily manage and reference the components to be delivered such as trailers, posters and any other required element for each destination.
In keeping with the idea that simplicity is elegance and easiest for operators, a single screen allows users to modify, manage and save IMF profiles. As an alternative, this single screen operation can be driven by an API and connection to the broadcaster or media company’s back office systems, whether a traffic system, a content management system, a program rights system or a work order system. The definition output of this screen can be named as a template and adjustments can be saved as new templates, so that essences can be scheduled and configured through the media factory by calling for the “template.” Thousands of templates can be pre-configured from a single interface or built upon demand via “a work order” system integration.
Unifying all these processes and jobs in a single platform ensures that all the resources are managed jointly and provide the broadcaster with the visibility to optimise their processes and maximise performance to ensure that Service Level Agreements and commitments are met and that there are no bottlenecks in the overall system. Management can focus on exceptions and growth and new requirements can be quickly and easily added to the automated system.
The media factory provides for escalation procedures and the ability to monitor, manage and report and even build customised dashboards and automatically distribute executive reports. Most important, the media factory toolset should include solid business analytics and a thorough audit system, as well as dedicated reporting of any and all media actions for client and end user reports.
The benefits of this unique stacked engine workflow are fundamentally important to companies focused on managing ever expanding OTT and VOD distribution systems, networks and agencies concerned with controlling every attribute of their brand across hundreds or thousands of channels, and networks concerned with rising labour costs and lack of return on investment. Prior to actions, media collected in a Mediaset can be evaluated with reports to ensure all associated parts are available for actions. Rather than wait until a workflow “flags” a problem when it cannot find a specific asset, for example a foreign language audio track, a report can be run across all associated assets and missing segments of the logical version can be collected and associated to the main essence long before the actual output requirement is processed. As the media factory is designed to automate processes, there is immediate saving on manual process management. And because the introduction of new profiles is a single screen operation taking only a few minutes for a knowledgeable operator, there is no need to build a new workflow every time a new output is required, offering considerable speed to market and cost savings.
Tedial’s Evolution Version Factory with BPM is the world’s first true Evolution Version Factory workflow. Both are light years ahead of traditional workflow solutions and provide users with an exponential measure of efficiency and path to profitability. These innovations are a major break-through in cost saving design, driving the current technology of multiple workflows in support of media format and configuration packages to a single system that can be fully automated through interconnection to existing back office systems and third-party tools.
By adapting SMPTE standards and methods to modern MAM and workflow designs, Tedial has deployed true scalable media factories in locations around the world, including tier one players, where its systems are processing thousands of automated media versioning requirements per day and in some cases by the hour. The company has been recognised by the IABM winning the IABM Game Changer Award 2016 in the System Automation & Control category for Evolution Version Factory at NAB 2016. This was the second year running that Tedial won the Game Changer award picking up the prize in 2015 for its Tedial Evolution™ platform.
By Julián Fernández Campón, solutions director, Tedial