Broadcasters Finding MAM Knows Best

Media asset management systems becoming key to multiplatform delivery 6/17/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Content may be king, but broadcasters
are finding their content kingdoms
require sophisticated media asset
management systems (MAM) to run smoothly.

“Media asset management is becoming more
and more important to all of our customers,”
says Raoul Cospen, director of marketing and
business development at Dalet, which offers
MAM systems used by the NBC Owned TV
Stations and a number of other clients. “It is
really becoming the core system.”

That reflects dramatic increases in the amount
of content being created, the complexities of delivering
more content to more digital platforms
and the need to control or cut costs, say Sony
executives who are marketing the company’s
Media Backbone system deployed by station
groups including Belo and Gray Television.

The payoff in terms of efficiency and allowing
organizations to handle more content
can be notable. Cospen says deployments of
Dalet’s MAM systems at Italian broadcaster
Mediaset helped them handle three times
more content with the same number of people
and launch a 24-hour news channel.

But as MAM software increasingly becomes
the lifeblood of many companies, finding the
right tools for managing content and implementing
them can be difficult. “Installing a new
MAM can be an expensive and time-consuming
proposition,” says Pablo Goldstein, CEO at the
systems integrator Unified Video Technologies.
“The whole process can take a year,” with clients
spending four months to select the system and
another four to eight installing it, Goldstein says.

Simplify That MAM

Some of the complexities involved in MAM
deployments reflect deficiencies of traditional
MAM systems, says Regis Andre, senior director
of the Stratus product line for Grass Valley. “They
don’t always deliver what people hoped,” he says.
“They find it didn’t make them more efficient
and it didn’t simplify things. They ended up creating
more processes for the sake of processes.”

Another major issue is finding the right tools
for a customer’s business needs, says Stephen
Smith, who was recently named senior product
manager, digital asset management at Harris
Broadcast. During Smith’s tenure at Starz, the deployment
of a MAM system allowed the network
to handle 250,000-plus hours of content per year
with only three operators. But he cautions that
developing and deploying the right system “is
one of the hardest” challenges facing engineers.

“MAM is not so much a product or a technology
solution as a business problem,” Smith
says. “Understanding the business process is
the key to the whole effort. If you get that
wrong, it won’t be successful.”

“It’s a little like hiring a cleaning woman,”
adds Ariel Matzkin, CTO of Unified Video
Technologies. “You have to understand what
messes you want cleaned up.”

To do that, vendors have been making a number
of improvements to their systems, with one
major trend being to simplify the workings of
MAM systems and better integrate them with
other parts of the client’s infrastructure.

Just Doing the Job Is Job One

To that end, Grass Valley designed its Stratus
media workflow application framework
so that the automated processes for managing
content run in the background. “Everything
is done automatically, so users can just worry
about doing their job,” says Andre.

Oscar Tengwall, video product strategy manager
at Vizrt, stresses the importance of reducing
the complexity of MAM systems. He suggests
that clients start with a smaller system, “for one
or two production workflows…to gain experience….
There are a lot of complex workflows
out there, and it’s important that we identify the
simple ways of doing them with a MAM.”

Tools for automating the process of entering
metadata and ensuring it moves throughout the
production chain have also improved, says Ali
Etezadi-Amoli, senior product manager, media
backbone solutions, Sony Electronics. These
include improvements in the way metadata is
collected by cameras, better systems for culling
metadata from closed captions or graphics and
advances in speech and face recognition.

Newer MAM systems also open up a number
of opportunities for redesigning workflows and
adapting them to future business needs. Karl
Mehring, senior product manager, TV Everywhere
at broadcast technology company Snell
Ltd. says Snell’s MAM systems provide senior
managers with improved reporting tools to better
identify and fix bottlenecks in production.

“Our planning tools also allow a user to set
up hypothetical scenarios and plan for the future
by seeing what processes a new product
launch might require,” Mehring says.

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