A+E Networks’ award-winning programming reaches more than 330+ million subscribers in 200 countries. The content is distributed through its portfolio of channel brands, HISTORY, A&E, Lifetime, H2, Crime + Investigation and FYI, and is licensed to third party broadcast television clients. In addition to programs produced by their U.S.-based channels, A+E Networks licenses the format rights for successful franchises like Pawn Stars, Shipping Wars and Dance Moms to international channel partners and third party clients, and distributes original content commissioned by their international channel partners. When they needed a centralized delivery solution for the content produced outside the US, they moved to the cloud-based Aframe video collaboration platform.
A+E Networks’ Need: Improve visibility and efficiency, more timely reviews
“A+E Networks is a global media company with multiple lines of business. We were looking for an efficient solution to help us manage the original content that we import from partners around the world,” said Lois Nemcovsky, Vice President, International Operations for A+E Networks.
Claudia Cummings, A+E Networks Director of International Production, explained, “Content was delivered to us by our international partners using multiple methods including FTP, hard drive, and even tape. We were looking to consolidate delivery and create a more streamlined process that would give us access to the content more quickly.” Another challenge was providing feedback on technical issues or content notes on programs produced by international partners; the A+E Networks International Production team relied on email and stills grabbed from the video files.
Aframe’s Solution: Make content and reviews centrally accessible
At the NAB show in 2014, Nemcovsky and other A+E Networks Operations executives had an opportunity to see Aframe in action and thought that the cloud-based video platform’s accelerated file upload/download, transcoded proxies and timecode-accurate notes would give them the efficiency and visibility they needed. Together with Aframe, A+E Networks’ International Operations team developed a workflow, conducted a highly successful pilot program, and brought seven regions on board: Italy, Southeast Asia, Latin America, the UK, Germany, Spain/Portugal, and Australia, along with two post facility partners, Deluxe and Prime Focus. Here’s how their system works:
- When a region is in production on a show or series, the user (which may be an A+E Networks’ channel partner or a local production company) navigates to Aframe to upload video and audio files.
- Aframe creates timecode-accurate H.264 proxies of the source files.
- The A+E Networks International Production team and their channel partners are able to access and review the files immediately, and, if necessary, annotate the proxies with their change requests.
- Editorial/production sees the change notes in context, makes the changes, and uploads the new files to Aframe.
- A+E Networks’ post facilities access the source files for Quality Control, and standards conversion when necessary.
- Files are then downloaded to A+E Networks’ servers and are archived to make room for additional content.
“Aframe has helped us to more easily coordinate our international deliverables. Everything comes straight into one place, and we have access to scripts, extra audio tracks – whatever we need,” said Cummings. “It’s much more efficient for us and for our channel partners.“
Cummings cited a scenario in which Aframe saved significant time and effort. “We saw that a file we’d been expecting from South Africa had been uploaded into Aframe. Our associate producer played back the proxy and heard echoing, and she realized the tracks were just slightly out of sync. Through Aframe, she was able to let the producer in South Africa know immediately that they needed to re-sync the tracks. The producer uploaded a new file to Aframe and delivered the next morning. Under our previous system, that process could have taken a week or more.”
As is the case with any workflow change, A+E Networks was wary of the impact that implementing a new delivery system with partners from around the world might have on already-tight deadlines. “There was really no learning curve. Everyone, from our channel partners to vendors to production companies, was able to access Aframe quickly and use it easily,” Cummings said. She noted that Aframe was also quick to address their requests. “During the pilot program I let them know that it would be useful to have a dashboard where I could see how many seats and how much storage we were using. Within three months they designed a beautiful dashboard in the software. They have been really responsive.”
Aframe is also used as a platform for A+E Networks’ partners to provide feedback on international co-productions. It can also serve as a delivery system, allowing A+E Networks to share assets, such as graphics, music stems, and supplemental materials that their partners can use in the localization process.
Leveraging the cloud has helped A+E Networks to address issues of visibility and timeliness in its global production workflow. Nemcovsky summed up the change in her organization’s processes: “We’re delighted to team with Aframe. They’ve enhanced our interactions with global vendors and suppliers by making A+E Networks’ content more easily accessible, and improving the efficiency of our post-production process.