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We’re Still Not Out – Broadcast-IT Workflow Blog Scores a Century

Is your file-based workflow enterprise class?

By Bruce Devlin | 09/23/14

As I reported in a previous article, we have managed to generate more than 100 entries in our first year of this esteemed blog. We have hundreds of dedicated subscribers, reading the comments on every continent, in every time zone:

In true cricketing style, I think this qualifies for one of the Test Match Special’s “Champagne Moments”.

Joking apart, a large part of the blog’s success is due to the really meaty topics that we address. We don’t duck the bouncers but rather shoulder arms to any thorny topic that media facilities around the world might toss down the track to us.

So, let’s look a little further into some of the subjects that we have fielded in our first 100 posts.

The Captions Challenge 

Closed captions – or subtitles outside North America – are now pretty much mandatory on television broadcasts: and even if the law does not require them, your audience still expects them.

Today consumers expect to get their “television content” online and on handheld devices as well as from broadcast sources. Not unreasonably, many of them will expect to find captions on these services just as they would on broadcast television. So we really ought to be sure that captions are created as part of the production, and delivered whatever the platform.

But… I count today 15 different subtitle input types, and 23 different delivery types for different platforms. So that is 345 different combinations, which means a lot of transcoding. Add to that the need to reconsider captions for different screen resolutions and you could end up with thousands of different paths. Which is why people tend to run away screaming from the problem.

Hold on, though. If we stop and think about it, we have already bravely fought our way through a challenge of this scale. We deal regularly in content that is created in standard definition, high definition or something else, at 24, 25 and 29.97 frames a second, and wrapped in QuickTime, MXF or something nasty. We have to deliver to multiple broadcast formats and the vast number of online streams.

It was tough, certainly, but we did it. We created workflows which looked at what was coming in, processed the file accordingly, and adjusted the metadata so that the files made sense on the way out. Clever workflows can do all of using a single device like the AmberFin iCR.

Enterprise class workflows – it’s all about the money

We work within the real world which is largely dictated by balance sheet decisions within our businesses. Whether you are a broadcaster, a content aggregator or a media facility you need the tools to do your job and the big question regarding Enterprise Class Workflows is ROI (Return on Investment) in terms of how these working methodologies can create more profit and revenue, whilst reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

When properly conceptualized, an Enterprise Class Workflow will be financially aware, sustainable, reliable, robust, efficient, scalable and flexible. In my experience, most Enterprise Class Workflows that fail to meet their objectives do so because of a lack of thought and planning at the critical early stages. They fail to sketch out and capture the complete workflow requirements, including the all important omissions. Normally, the designer does not understand how to measure success and progress in this critical developmental stage. Often, I highlight the importance of planning for the worst case scenario whilst hoping for the best.

Let us know what you think about our blog – either electronically or face to face. In the coming weeks we shall be exhibiting at BVE in the UK and NAB in the USA. So if you have time, please call by our stand (or booth if you rather) and let’s have a chat.

Featured in: Captioning | Dalet AmberFin | File-Based Workflows | Metadata | NAB Show | Transcoding |

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By Bruce Devlin

With 30 years in the industry, Bruce looks after Media Technology for Dalet. An engineer who designed antennas, ASICs, software, algorithms, systems and standards, Bruce is best known for being @MrMXF and you can get his book on Amazon ☺.

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