Workflow and Collaboration: Working Faster, Smarter, Cheaper

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In the new world of multi-platform TV and film, harnessing content and cost-effectively managing its production and delivery offers huge opportunities for content owners and brands. Whether it is branded content or feature length films, it has never been more important to reach new and existing consumers any place, any time. Despite this, many media companies have a difficult time exploit ing that opportunity. As demand for high quality content increases so too do the file sizes and the complexity of managing and delivering it to a myriad of platforms. Fortunately, new technological advances like file-based workflow and the cloud are revolutionising the way production, post-production and distribution companies manage, repurpose and deliver content. Although these advances by no means solve every problem, new platforms are maturing and stepping up to meet the challenge.

Text of Workflow and Collaboration: Working Faster, Smarter, Cheaper

  • 1. The Muddle in the Middle SeriesA Nativ Whitepaper/ www.nativ.tvWorkflow andCollaboration:Working smarter, cheaper and faster

2. In the new world of multi-platform TV and film,harnessing content and cost-effectively managingits production and delivery offers huge opportunitiesfor content owners and brands. Whether it isbranded content or feature length films, it has neverbeen more important to reach new and existingconsumers any place, any time.Despite this, many media companies have a difficult time exploiting that opportunity. As demand forhigh quality content increases so too do the file sizes and the complexity of managing and deliveringit to a myriad of platforms.Fortunately, new technological advances like file-based workflow and the cloud are revolutionisingthe way production, post-production and distribution companies manage, repurpose and delivercontent. Although these advances by no means solve every problem, new platforms are maturingand stepping up to meet the challenge.2A Nativ Whitepaper/ 3. What is Workflow Anyway? In the convergent world of digital production and Internet technologies, workflow is increasingly hyped but often poorly defined. Workflow is not a new concept and in its most abstract sense simply refers to a sequence of tasks carried out in a specific order. In terms of video it means the flow of content through well-known stages - ingest, editing, approval, transcoding, and so on. Effective workflow orchestration should ensure a sequence of steps is accurately followed to avoid confusion, remove errors and ensure that critical business processes can be tracked and optimised over time. In the world of TV and film, a meaningful workflow must seamlessly orchestrate the interactions between enterprise resources (storage, transcoding, network etc.) and groups of people. One without the other offers advantages in terms of operational efficiency but tracking people and resources together is critical to enjoying operational efficiencies, cost-control and ultimately savings. Laying the Groundwork for File Based Workflow A couple of long term technical trends have enabled the emergence of file based workflow in TV and film.1. The switch from tape to file Improvements in video compression, cheaper storage and greater bandwidth have enabled the transition to multi-platform viewing. Although this transition has been gradual, these technology advances have revolutionised the TV viewing experience and in recent years weve seen an explosion of cross platform VOD and OTT services. As these same technical advances mature, they are also offering huge advantages further up the supply chain and disrupting the old ways of working in production, post-production and distribution. Despite the hype though, not every element of production and distribution can be switched from tape to digital file overnight. As file sizes continue to grow, tapes and drives are often the only option for delivery and long term archiving, so physical media will be around for some time to come. However, many aspects of the content supply chain are now managed entirely through file-based workflows and there are options for seamlessly integrating tape-based and file-based workflows until the move towards tapeless is complete.2. The switch from hardware to software Many tools for manipulating video and audio content that previously ran on expensive specialist hardware have now been transitioned to more cost-effective software, which runs on commodity hardware. This has been an important transition as video server software, which used to be cabled into a companys specialist infrastructure, can now be run on site or in offsite datacentres, with support for service orientated software integration. The combination of the switch from tape to file and the emergence of commodity IT over specialist infrastructure has meant that the world of video management is now open to thousands of software developers globally. Specialist video functions can now be integrated into wider business systems and can reside within commodity IT enterprises either offsite or onsite. 3 4. Why is File Based Its a No-brainer, So WhyWorkflow So Important?Does it Seem so Hard?During the time of tape and specialist physical infrastructure, Implementing file-based workflow automation should beworkflow could be mapped by tracking a tape number or bya no brainer, but the cost-barrier for entry and the risk ofthe sight of people walking between different departments implementation is often extremely high. Integrating workflow andtransferring content on tape and metadata on print-outs. In a asset management software into an organization often requiresdigital world these workflow steps can be carried out automatically purchasing various specialist software components and thenusing software which removes the greater cost of manual labour, paying an integrator to do the work. Such a task can cost 100sincreases throughput and improves time to market. of 1000s of dollars and roll on for months, if not, years. Alsothe risk of failure is extremely high as the market moves quicklyA number of factors make file-based workflows moreand standards are not always adhered to. So although manyimportant than ever:companies want to benefit from file based workflow automationEconomics There is less money around, so companiesin order to cut costs and handle more scale, the upfrontneed to avoid overspend on media management and investment required is often unviable.workflow. This can only be brought about by replacingexpensive hardware and manual labour with automationsoftware running on commodity infrastructure.The Dawn of Cloud: MarketingHype or a Brave New World?Change The video ecosystem is going through rapidchange. Not only are viewing habits changing but standardsand formats are changing. From file formats and metadataIn many ways cloud represents both hype and a brave new delivery mechanisms and video platforms - being able Although the name seems new the concept relies on a numberto adapt workflows quickly and easily is the key to survival. of technologies that have been quietly evolving and maturingover a long period:The holy grail of filed based workflow is a process that isIaaS and SaaS Technology shifts in the video domainautomated as much as possible and orchestrates seamlesslyhave come at a time where data centre technologies havebetween software and people. Tasks that were previouslyalso advanced rapidly from hardware to virtual infrastructure.carried out manually, such as file transfer and encoding, shouldInfrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Servicebe fully automated and reference content and metadata in(SaaS) paradigms are springing up everywhere and bring withtandem to ensure that each workflow step has context andthem interesting opportunities around managing video contentmeaning. Once a workflow has been designed it can be runworkflows in the cloud.and refined completely automatically, thus offering loweroperating cost, reducing the number of people required andVirtualisation technologies These enable users to deployincreasing throughput. In the ideal world highly skilled people software to data centres without worrying about physicalwork on specialist, creative tasks and everything else is carried location, hardware costs or network technologies. Investmentout by automated an expensive specialist solution is no longer the only option.When implemented correctly, automated filed-based workflows Elastic computing These models offer interesting optionslower the cost and complexity of handling greater volumes ofto the world of video management. Some workflow elementscontent. They increase visibility, lower cost and improve timecan be processor intensive and long running but may only occurto market. They remove spikes in human resource and replace sporadically. So why have lots of expensive hardware hangingthem with scalable software running on commodity hardware.around for that once-a-year spike? Being able to ramp up onThis leaves more money for the creation of great contentdemand and then immediately ramp down is the way to go. Thisrather than the management and delivery of it. Such costis the real Holy Grail: pay for the automated workflow processingsavings in the area of post production and distribution meanon commodity infrastructure and only when you need it.content owners can be more agile and benefit from smallerdeal opportunities where previously high post production anddistribution costs prevented them.4 A Nativ Whitepaper/ 5. Cloud and Collaboration: TheFuture of Media Managementand Workflow OperationsWhats clear is that at the same time cloud technologies are Using cloud based media management and workflow servicestaking off, the world is becoming an increasingly flat place. In a that are accessed through a web browser and reside in theglobal marketplace, work often goes to the territory where skillscloud is clearly the way to go and in many circumstances offerare readily available and it can be done most cheaply. Manya multiplying effect. Where people are involved they can interactworkflows span several organisations production companies, from anywhere in the world, whether that be Hollywood orpost production houses, freelancers and because of this, Hyderabad. This offers huge cost savings by removing manualdistance working is now a must. Its necessary to have a solutionlabour, automating workflow and scaling to meet demand.that can in some sense be owned by a single company butLeveraging a workforce that spans different time zones alsoaccessible by many different people from other organisations offers huge advantages in terms of time to market.and geographical locations.A connected world means that people can use the internet tocollaborate in near real time and different people in differentoffices can work together using web-based platforms. Withthis in mind medi