Content management, today, is of as much importance as content creation—more so, in an environment focussed at remote work, which is the new normal. Being able to catalogue, locate, retrieve and distribute content to multiple platforms and devices with little or no lag, is vital to retaining audience traction. Effective re-purposing, re-packaging, re-versioning to deliver and distribute for re-use and viewing, on multiple channels and devices, is how organisations are optimising diverse revenue streams. Similarly, now that production worldwide has experienced an unexpected halt, the management of content archive takes on special relevance.
Efficient content management is a direct path to monetisation. Media companies need to be able to monetise all those files and titles that they have stored and give them continuity, facilitating for example the creation of compilations, reissues, thematic collections, etc. To this end, advanced metadata cataloguing of files and content using Media Asset Management (MAM) or agile media management systems is essential to locating the exact content that can work best with a set of audience at any given time. Without effective content management, precious content assets remain under-utilised.
Comprehensive production workflow management for media encompasses a wide range of functionalities. For instance, core data model with hierarchical structures for organising media elements and ancillary data should are easily put in place. The ingest of live feeds and streams should is taken care of. The import of media files, searching and browsing, annotating with logging, associated relevant metadata is made easy when a company employs an end-to-end media management suite. Other functionalities include, short and long form editing with video, audio, and graphics, conforming multiple elements into single assets, performing file management, converting media through transcoding, transferring content in and auto-editing of asset use and production tasks.
Optimal advanced metadata cataloguing allows for content to be conveniently located. A good organisation and structuring of files supported by a robust system of user permissions complements it. This facilitates a powerful multiplatform distribution, an advanced system of content and file exchange between users, departments and/or companies and of course, a good archive adapted to the specific needs of each client, which gives the greatest possible flexibility in their day-to-day operations (whether cloud, online, near-line, deep archive or a hybrid solution).
THEN AND NOW
Media, like most other technology fields, is predominantly about utilising IT and IP effectively. Gone are the days of using a traditional medium like tape. The quintessential tape is rapidly being supplanted by digital files. As compared to time gone by, signals are no longer restricted running through specialised interfaces, and now use common IP standards so that streaming media is pervasive everywhere. Back then, content management systems were constructed around software, computing, and network technologies—taking advantage of advances in these areas. Editors, directors, and producers need to be able to find, preview, edit, and format digital content from their desktops. Digitisation and archiving of media assets with a modern media asset management (MAM) system are enabling media and broadcast outlets to manage large repositories of media assets and quickly search and retrieve relevant content for programming. Deployment of sophisticated MAM systems is rapidly becoming a competitive requirement for media and broadcast outlets.
Data management in broadcast and media has gained immense importance in the industry and why not—it has made media companies better-placed to make business decisions, accurately guided by the analysis of content consumption data, profitability and productivity of their business. Interestingly, little can be expected from a content system that is not backed by comprehensive business intelligence to analyse all this data and extract valuable information. Search algorithms have gained refinements and efficiencies including machine learning enhancements, server memory, CPU, and GPU processing power continues unabated, and networks speeds keep increasing. With content management being a completely file based realm, all these IT advances make workflows faster and more efficient.
Moreover, as content management becomes increasingly automated thanks to cutting-edge tools such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for automatic metadata cataloguing or even for video segment selection and piece creation; data management, big data, makes even more sense to feed this information technologies to influence actions and decisions. Through integrations with AI engines, management systems create an automated transcription workflow that replaces the time-consuming and inefficient process of sending content out to external transcription services. By taking full control of the transcription process, content delivery becomes easier. In fact, it will become increasingly indispensable and crucial as a competitive advantage as this task automation progresses.
The continuing migration to IP aligns well with the shift of viewing habits to include substantial time spent watching content on mobile devices. Now, content managements systems incorporate more capabilities to deal with inputting, mixing, conforming, and outputting content in a variety of frame rates, aspect ratios, and resolutions. Content is no longer limited to just traditional television broadcast formats. Managing content accelerates efficiency and productivity by increasing the speed of execution of their tasks, along with reducing human errors that can delay or paralyse day-to-day operations. From the moment a user can trust technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks or to distribute content based on a specific set of rules and conditions to make delivery flawless, users have a great deal of resources and available time to focus on doing what they know best and what technology is not yet ready for: creating unique, original and engaging content for their audience.
Content management alone provides a good framework for organising assets, but to fully benefit from this aspect, it takes some additional functions built around the central concept. Applying workflow orchestration onto production workflow management enables various levels of automating processes and tasks. Not only does this make production more efficient, but also reduces the risk of unintended errors. With automation, rules, and customisation, organisations can benefit not only from a greater amount of content using the same investment in resources but can gain an additional degree of branding as well as assuring a consistent level of quality of production.
A MAM system should be the core of any media installation. This technology must become the conductor that serves as a gear for all other systems, whether they are media production, news, planning or broadcasting and publishing systems. The most obvious application of content management is for archiving. Without a management layer, users cannot search for what has been stored, and they cannot know for how long to save material. Content management does all of this along with handling the transfer, control and scheduling of ingest or import of new media as well as push media out to automation and scheduling applications, for playout in studios or control rooms. Specialised instances can be deployed in departments to manage just graphics or video assets, and to connect editing stations for the creation and delivery of new pieces of media.
Content management, for above reasons, must be an open and scalable technology that can be easily integrated with a company’s other third-party systems, whether new or existing. A rigid system, which is difficult to integrate, poses obstacles and barriers way before a company begins to lay the foundations for organising and structuring media. How one catalogues, archives, locates, recovers and distributes media and metadata files today, will largely determine the success of the business tomorrow.
Content management relies on processing and storage. The processing power increases every six months due to IT roadmaps. Storage is a similar situation. The price per gigabit of storage continues to trend downward and new technologies make deploying mixed hierarchical storage easier to better match amount versus access time requirements. The latest storage trend is cloud hosting. In this way an organisation can pay for just the amount they need, are not concerned with changes in technology, add another level of redundancy, and can scale up as requirements change.
In view of the current situation, the easy access of stored content on cloud, remotely, and at any given time. The costs, on one hand, and the agility of workflows, on the other, remain a problem when working with files as large as video. It is true that great progress is already being made in this area. Companies want to move all their operations to the cloud, including part of their archive.
“Regardless of what components are on-site or offsite, network management, performance, bandwidth, and connectivity is crucial for a stable, reliable, and optimised production workflow management. Tuning IT networks for the constant throughput of large files and streaming is a specialised skillset that can be in short supply. As content management functionality broadens across many tasks, processes, and workflows, the user experience must be carefully considered. A system that can do many things, is not really a solution if users struggle to understand how to effectively use the capabilities,” said Matt Allard, senior manager, Product Marketing, Vizrt Group.
With the virtualisation of software applications to accommodate cloud hosting, offering content management as a software subscription (SaaS) becomes a serious alternative to a capital expenditure. A subscription model also lends itself to limited timescale projects such as large periodic events such as sports or elections. As the media industry navigates these unprecedented times, it is more apparent than ever that a sophisticated and diverse digital archive infrastructure supporting disaster recovery along with complementing post-production workflows is a mission-critical component to any broadcast solution. “The Machine Learning aspect of AI will be applied to content management. Technology for video recognition that can identify certain people, objects, and actions is already appearing. Once set up with specific parameters, elements in content can be identified, logged, and tagged automatically for quick and easy use in a variety of ways for everybody in the production chain,” added Allard.
According to VSN, a 100% remote, flexible and cloud-based content management future awaits us. A future where users are able to perform all kinds of actions on their media and monitor the progress of workflows and processes even from a tablet device on their way to work. Content management is expected to be increasingly integrated with the pre-planning stage and the subsequent multi-platform distribution and delivery stage. The challenge is to ensure that all these steps become a single, seamless and perfectly interconnected value chain that, based on data, statistics and analysis, enables users to make increasingly fast and even guided or recommended decisions about their content thanks to technologies. We may witness an analytical and automatic future, in which strategic decision making will largely depend on users, leaving the development of a large part of daily tasks to technology.