Video-editing and storage supplier Avid Technology is looking to expand its reach within broadcast and post-production facilities with Interplay, a new software-based system that provides asset management, workflow automation, and content-security and -monitoring functions.
Interplay integrates with Avid's Media Composer, NewsCutter, iNEWS Instinct, and Symphony Nitris systems and is also designed to work with non-production areas, including IT, legal and billing systems. It can track activity through a common interface and handles 100 media and non-media file types, including multi-resolution video, Microsoft Office documents, Adobe Photoshop and AfterEffects layered files, MPEGs, TIFs, and spreadsheets.
Avid bills Interplay as the “world's first nonlinear workflow engine,” and it's designed to provide a common user interface for both high-end nonlinear editing software and more-mundane applications like Microsoft Office documents. For example, an editor working with NewsCutter software would be able to open a Word document from the same screen.
David Schleifer, VP of broadcast and workgroups for Avid, says the product is the result of a multiyear development project aimed at improving the collaborative workflow in both television and film production. “This solves some very big problems we have seen in broadcast and post-production,” he says.
To date, Avid's asset-management tools have focused only on the Avid part of the production process: the content it processes through its nonlinear editors and Unity storage systems. Interplay aims to provide integrated asset management that extends more broadly into the plant and works easily with other suppliers' production tools. It may save Avid customers from having to buy a separate asset-management system to manage production content.
“Right out of the box, it recognizes 100 different file types,” says Schleifer. “And it can manage revisions, versions, history, organization and access to those files.”
Interplay is scheduled to ship in the third quarter. Its main components are the Interplay engine—a PC server that connects to an Avid Unity storage network—and Interplay Access, the software client that runs on PCs and affords access to various asset-management capabilities. Pricing starts at $18,000 for an engine and bundled access for five desktop clients.
Additional options include a transcoding tool; a low-res encoder for ingest applications; an archiving tool that provides low-res proxies; a transfer system for switching media between workgroups; and “Interplay Assist,” a feature that allows production staff to play video, select shots and add markers with comments using ordinary desktops and laptops. Such annotations and locators are immediately visible to editors working on high-end machines.
Since Interplay is built on centralized resource management and multi-resolution technology, the system looks at an asset “as one asset, even if it appears across multiple resolutions,” says Schleifer. For example, an intern could be making comments while logging low-res video files, and those comments would be seen alongside the standard-def and high-def versions of the same file.
“We're trying to coordinate a team-based workflow and trying to drive parallel workflows as opposed to serial ones,” he says. “Instead of having teams waiting around [to access content], Interplay coordinates and takes the collisions out.”