When people ask me exactly what I and Marquis Broadcast do, I say we make software for television and movie production. The next question is usually, do you know a famous actor, musician, personality? I'm afraid my world is more ordinary than that, often about resolving mind bending, complex integrations. Nothing too sexy or exciting, just making things work for the journalists, producers and creatives of the world. Some people also know of us for our big enterprise integrations for broadcasters and studios.
Exploiting and Protecting Valuable Interplay Metadata with Marquis Broadcast’s Interplay Metadata Export Tool (IMET)
Avid® Interplay® PAM has become a mainstay of many production workflows. It is relied upon daily by large and small production facilities around the world to find, track, archive and deliver projects. Some have been using Interplay for many years and have been actively managing the media on their ISIS NEXIS; usually archiving media after use. However, for very good reasons they have intentionally not archived or deleted the Interplay metadata associated with project media that has been archived.
Like moths around a light, we’re drawn to NAB. This year, over 100,000 ‘media moths’ attended NAB but why? One thing is clear, it’s much more than just another media conference and exhibition. As industry change continues to accelerate, the vendor-customer relationship is also becoming more nuanced. A new eco-structure of partnerships evolve, often driven by customers wanting to do things that have simply never been done before – the most productive way to have these discussions is face-to-face.
Here’s a fun fact – Marquis Broadcast grew around 40% last year. So what, or even why, you may ask? For us, it was due to lots of hard work, new customers and perhaps – just maybe – we’re doing something right. As way of introduction, we develop specialist software, performing tricky integrations including apps for post-production, disaster recovery, analytics, cloud workflows and large complex enterprise middleware integrations. Our customers range from big studios, including Warner Bros and DreamWorks, broadcasters, such as CBS and the BBC, and large service providers, including Ericsson and Telefonica, right through to post houses, such as ENVY and The Farm Group, and finally to many thousands of creative individuals.
As storage capacities grow and timescales shrink, managing your media and metadata has never been more important. Whether you’re a large broadcaster or a boutique post-production facility, the files you use need to be moved carefully both into and out of your projects and servers, then squeezed into an archive when complete. There are dangers lurking everywhere to attack these files too – hardware failures, fire, theft, human error, etc. – so it’s important to prepare, and this should really form part of a business continuity plan. Luckily, Marquis Broadcast has a range of very clever software applications to help; from a simple tool to trim and consolidate media, to a full-blown ‘set and forget’ backup and sync system. So, let’s take a look at these, with examples to demonstrate the software’s abilities.
Medway is a very powerful and scalable media-centric middleware solution, enabling a complete digital workflow to ensure edit platforms, MAMs, video servers and archive systems can work seamlessly together. Designed to meet the demands of the most challenging production environments, Medway is used globally by broadcast, production, post production, newsrooms and playout facilities. In addition, it is an excellent plug-and-play replacement for old Avid Transfer Manager systems, offering immediate cost, operational and performance benefits.
Marquis Broadcast transforming disaster recovery for Avid ISIS and NEXIS storage with Workspace Tools
The ever-increasing capacity of Avid shared storage has completely transformed production processes, with faster networks, greater storage and more concurrent clients operating at ever-higher resolutions. However, there is a down-side, in that the risk of outage – especially of work in progress – has become concentrated in increasingly larger systems, many of which are of petabyte scale.
In 2011, I presented one of the first ‘Cloud in Broadcast’ papers at BVE. It had a technology ‘waves of change’ theme running through it and made the case that adoption of cloud in broadcast was inevitable for many applications and really time for the industry to take notice. On reflection, I’d say 5% of the audience were on board, 20% thought it had legs, 25% were curious, and to the remaining 50% it was, to use modern parlance, ‘fake news’.
As someone who is constantly trying to build better products, I’m always asking questions and listening to the ones I get asked. For several years now I’ve asked every broadcaster and media production company I’ve met what they plan to do about ‘the cloud’. I’ve had replies which range from ‘the media must never leave the premises’ (imagine in a rising Dalek voice to get an impression of the resolute belief), through to ‘we started looking in 2008 and have lots of workflows in the cloud already’ (just yesterday). What is interesting is how those answers have changed and how people are now starting to come to us to ask us about the big ‘C’ at tradeshows. So, here are some of the most common or interesting…
A lost tourist approached a villager in a rural area and enquired how to get to a famous landmark in another district. The villager responded: ‘Oh you can’t get there from here’. On the surface this statement makes no sense, but maybe in the villager’s context it does. Many existing broadcasters and media companies have an analogous problem with the potential journey to cloud; it isn’t easy, trivial or straight forward considering where they are today.
Strange as it seems, despite the limited number of broadcasters around the world, they all appear to have different requirements, equipment and as a result; workflows.
Those workflows get ever more complex as the methods of distribution continue to expand. We may have taken on VOD and IP delivery, but we've not given up on traditional broadcast. As I write this, Wimbledon is on. In the UK the first colour television was broadcast by BBC2 for the Wimbledon coverage on July 1st 1967. Yet, the last analogue TV signal was not finally turned off until 24th October 2012 and in 2013 there were still 13,000 households in the UK with black and white TV licences. So, don't expect to be shedding the older distribution methods anytime soon.
What if …… my Post House went ‘off line’ one day?
With the scale of shared storage and number of concurrent editing clients increasing so dramatically over recent years, the amount of ‘work in progress’ and the value of the ‘in production’ assets in the post production facility can often run into millions of pounds. It represents a significant ‘concentration of risk’. Ever shortening and demanding delivery schedules has meant the risk to a major post production business from IT failures or environmental hazards such as fire or flood, or even human error, has become intensified to an almost un-insurable risk. For top post companies, simply backing up data or implementing a disaster recovery scheme has become too crude, too slow and too late, as it may take several days to restore work in progress. The advent of 4K workflows has made the problem even larger.