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Real World Media Factories are not a Dream


2017 NAB Show Editorial Submission
by
Jay Batista, General Manager, North American Operations, Tedial

Consultants to media companies and broadcasters in the 1990s made a name for themselves by quoting Deming and recommending we adopt an elusive media factory design, an all-encompassing workflow where content enters and thousands of versions exit with little human interaction required. With such a plant, we could apply the wealth of production management knowledge to our organizations and increase our profitability. The concept was to simplify and automate content delivery to multiple platforms, and bring cost savings to an industry under financial and labor pressures. Then workflow engines arrived on the scene and the dream of a Media Factory evolved: instead of building a new workflow for each new media distribution requirement, a media factory would provide a special workflow design to initiate, manage and control thousands of configurations automatically. These factories would focus on non-linear Video on Demand (VOD) and Over the Top (OTT) version requirements, due to their inherent complexity.

To create a ‘true’ media factory, media processing tools need to be stacked in a unique design so that a single workflow can manage all of a company’s third-party systems: transcoders, watermarking, encryption, 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. Based on experience, Tedial has learned the key to success in building a true media factory is to define thousands of distribution instruction sets and save these varying instructions in an easily managed way so that triggering a workflow becomes as simple as requesting an asset, or a group of assets, in a particular destination specific 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 Business Process Management (BPM) workflows provides a highly flexible solution that centralizes operations to provide a connected and efficient media process model across an enterprise, providing a true media factory. Tedial began delivering these systems in 2015 and reference accounts are available around the world.

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, while reducing manual intervention minimizes human 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 optimized accordingly. It provides customers with the tools to implement thousands of business-driven media workflows, each designed specifically around their unique requirements.

The special sauce that Tedial added to the media factory that made it a huge success was the methods defined by the SMPTE Interoperable Master Format (IMF) specifications. IMF based tools enable and support profile creation and modification. In order to take advantage of IMF methodologies, the MAM/workflow system must have the ability to support extended, even unlimited metadata for efficient content management. This is why leading MAM software companies have begun to implement true object relational databases 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.

In keeping with the idea that simplicity is elegance and easiest for operators, Tedial offers a single screen to allow 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 today’s broadcaster with the visibility to optimize their processes and maximize performance to ensure that Service Level Agreement commitments are met and that there are no capacity bottlenecks in the overall system. Management can focus on exceptions and growth, and with an expandable and flexible system like Tedial’s Evolution, new requirements can be quickly and easily added to the automated system.

A proper media factory provides for escalation procedures and the ability to monitor, manage and report and even build customized 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 Tedial 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 labor costs and lack of return on investment. Prior to workflow triggered actions, media collected in a particular asset’s collection of components 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 “logical versions” 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 has revolutionized the market and the dream of a fully automated media factory and media-centric truly scalable workflow engine have finally been realized. The company’s Evolution Version Factory with BPM is the world’s first to market and true Version Factory workflow. Both are years ahead of traditional workflow solutions and provide customers with a measure of efficiency and profitability. These innovations are a major break-through in cost saving design, replacing the current technology of multiple workflows in support of media format and configuration packages with 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.

Tedial is proud to take this leadership position in the industry and has been recognized by the IABM by 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. Evolution Version Factory and BPM will be on show at NAB 2017 on booth N1420.

Jay Batista, General Manager of Tedial, North American operations, has 35+ years technical and managerial experience in the broadcast industry. Jay has held executive positions managing strategic growth, sales and marketing, mergers and acquisitions, and product innovation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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