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Apr 24, 2015
Best of the Blogs
Your chance to vote on the best of the blogs from the past year and win an awesome prize! While the Dalet Academy only launched in January, Dalet has actually been posting educational blogs since NAB 2014 when we joined forces with AmberFin (and thus acquired some of their blog posts as well), and you, our readers, have been “voting with your clicks.” There are clearly some very popular topics on this blog, and the number of views speaks for itself...

Best of the Blogs

Your chance to vote on the best of the blogs from the past year and win an awesome prize! While the Dalet Academy only launched in January, Dalet has actually been posting educational blogs since NAB 2014 when we joined forces with AmberFin (and thus acquired some of their blog posts as well), and you, our readers, have been “voting with your clicks.” There are clearly some very popular topics on this blog, and the number of views speaks for itself...

If you won’t be attending NAB this year, we’ll miss you, but you can still get involved. If you are coming to NAB 2015, pay attention.
 
While the Dalet Academy only launched in January, Dalet has actually been posting educational blogs since NAB 2014 when we joined forces with AmberFin (and thus acquired some of their blog posts as well), and you, our readers, have been “voting with your clicks.” There are clearly some very popular topics on this blog, and the number of views speaks for itself.
 
For NAB 2015, we’re taking the Dalet Academy, and this blog, live to the show floor. As a part of our exciting daily schedule in the Dalet Academy theatre, we’ll be turning one of these blog posts into a live presentation – and we want YOU to decide which one gets the live treatment. (This is by no means a competition between myself, Kevin and Bruce to see who wrote the best blog!) As with the “Bruce’s Shorts, Live” sessions, also delivered in the theatre, there will also be the opportunity to sign up to an exclusive workshop where we will discuss, in depth, the topic covered in the presentation with Dalet and other industry experts.
 
To narrow things down a bit, the voting will be based on the three most read blogs of the last 18 months, as follows:
 
Title: Change Management – 4 things to consider when implementing a MAM
Kevin Savina discusses four simple steps to ensure your organization is on board when implementing a new media asset management system. This excellent blog clearly hit a chord with readers, getting a significant number of “shares” on social media shortly after it was posted.
 
Title: MXF AS02 and IMF: What's the Difference and Can They Work Together?
Written by the Dean of the Dalet Academy, Mr. MXF himself, this highly technical post continues to receive a high number of regular views 18 months after it was first published. A lot has changed in the development of IMF in that time, but the topic remains increasingly relevant. A presentation would bring this blog bang up to do.
 
Title: Pictionary, Standards and MXF Interoperability
I’m surprised to see this one here but, alongside Kevin’s blog on change management (above), it’s the most popular blog of the last 6 months. In it I discussed the work of organizations around the globe to standardize on file delivery and exchange formats. I also hint at how I got a room full of people to play Pictionary during a (very serious) presentation – something that could perhaps be repeated on the NAB show floor!
 
Which topic we present is up to you. Whether you attend NAB or not, you’ll have the chance to win an excellent prize just for voting, and see the resulting presentation on video via YouTube. Be sure to place your vote in the coming weeks – we’ll be announcing the chosen blog on Sunday, April 12th before the show!
 
Cast your vote for the best of the best Dalet Academy blog now!

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Change Management 101
Staff input and adoption can make or break your next big project. Five key change management takeaways to consider for your next endeavor. Everybody Loves Change…Right? Technology moves at a breakneck pace, and some assume that the constant change around us means we are comfortable when changing tools and processes within our own workspace. This is not the case. Most people do not adapt immediately to change and many will resist it if it's not introduced properly. Having a change management plan as part of the overall strategy is critical for the success of any large-scale project. More Than Just Knowing, People Need to Understand When making a large-scale change to a team’s work environment, whether it's introducing new tools, workflows or shifting roles and responsibilities, it is critical that management communicates the goals of the project to their staff down to the individual level. Employees need to know how the change will affect their job. You need to answer questions such as “How will this change enhance my day to day work? What new responsibilities will I be taking on? Are there new goals in which my performance will be reviewed against? How will this help the company as a whole?” Proactively communicating change, whether it is through internal marketing with videos and presentations, to ongoing training and coaching workshops, supports large-scale change more organically and removes the fear of the unknown. It also makes the staff more agile and able to adapt to the ebb and flow of emerging technology that impacts their day-to-day job. You Need Buy-In or There is a Good Chance It’s Not Going to End Well Organizations should never have a homogenous group in charge of the selection, design and implementation of large-scale projects. Change of scale needs diversity and buy-in from all aspects of the operation to succeed. Rolling out a new platform and workflow where only a core group of staff are involved in the design, testing and acceptance, is one of the worst change management failures. When the majority of users are not consulted about the solution until after implementation, it is likely to be unanimously rejected by the majority of the staff. In such situations, entire projects are often abandoned and wasted. Make sure you have a diverse cross section of end users (content creatives, producers, and editorial staff) involved in the due diligence process and the early stages of the project design phase. By not having them involved, you are at risk of encountering last minute surprises such as staff taking much longer to adapt to the new system/role or lack of features that would’ve been helpful to complete one’s job. So, moral of this advice, involve staff who will eventually use the system. Know that these are important stakeholders who can help ensure the company has made the right decisions and the transition to your new work infrastructure is set up for success. Promote Your Champions Large-scale changes can also offer an opportunity to invigorate or reinvigorate the staff. Promoting valued resources to lead delivery of a new in-house project gives recognition and often incentive to see the project through with maximum success. Management often overlooks this opportunity as they are focused on the technology goals, the scope and the project overall. It is the dedication and commitment of your resources that will make or break a large-scale project. Be Realistic…Really Setting unrealistic goals at the beginning of a given project and underestimating the constraints and challenges that will arise during the journey eventually affects the outcome of the project and not in a good way. Yes, technology can accelerate workflows and deliveries, but it cannot replace the decision-making process required for transformational change and the time required to make these important “think steps” to ensure the right outcome. And while it seems logical, make sure there are committed resources to the project. With most large-scale projects, companies need to continue their business as usual while simultaneously changing the operation. This is not achievable relying on the same staff to drive both initiatives. In media and entertainment, the primary commitment is to make sure the content is delivered to the audiences as scheduled. Everything else is secondary. A large-scale or transformational project needs dedication. A way to balance this is by hiring contractors and consultants who will take on part of the project or help the existing staff with their responsibilities as changes are implemented.
The Power of the Dalet Search
In today’s multi-platform world, simply put, finding stuff is becoming more complex. In the past, a mere browse through the shelves would suffice. But the digital era brings forth the "hoarding" syndrome. Just think, for example, of your own collection of home pictures – I know mine are in an unmanaged mess. But before we get into searching, we first need to address quantifying things. This is where a MAM's role is to be the record keeper of your valuable content and its associated information. More importantly, having a metadata model extensible enough to address the multiple levels and hierarchy of data is key to the success of your search power. As the amount of content owned, archived and distributed by broadcasters is rapidly growing, it is also evolving, resulting in an exponential expansion of files that must be managed. What was once a one-to-one relationship between the "record" and the media, has evolved into a model where a complex collection of elements (audio, video, text, captions, etc.) forms a record relationship. And don’t even get me started on versioning. To illustrate what I’m talking about, let’s look at the example of the TV Series “24,” starring Keifer Sutherland. You could annotate an episode with the actor’s name, the actor’s character’s name, the actor’s birthday, and so on ... and for each element of that collection (let’s say the source master, the poster, the caption). Having the ability to define a taxonomy and ontology so that when I specify that “24” ALWAYS has Jack Bauer in all the episodes and that the character Jack Bauer is played by actor Keifer Sutherland, we can then have a way to inherit that information down the tree for any element that is part of that tree: Series/Season/Episode. Then for the users, only saying that “this” video is actually 24/season2/ep7 will automatically inherit/apply all it's “parent” associated metadata... without needing to enter each individual value. This greatly reduces the amount of data entry (and time) necessary to quantify something when considering the immense amount of content associated with any given record. But the big impact of the rich metadata engine found in our MAM is its ability to not only search but to discover as well. What I mean is that there are typically two methods of searching: The first is explicit search – the user chooses the necessary fields to conduct their search, and then enters the values to obtain a result, e.g. looking for “Videos” with “Jack Bauer” in “Season 2.” The result is a list that the user must filter through to find what they want. The second way to search is through discovery, with the MAM's ability to display facets. For example, I could type “Actor’s height” (6'2") in “Action role,” “On Location” (Los Angeles). The return would display facets organized by user-defined relevancy, such as Series, Media Type, Actor Name, to then produce a resulting list along with facet boxes that the user can "filter down" within the search. The above example would show: "I found 12 Videos with Keifer Sutherland as an actor," and “I found 34 assets shot in Los Angeles.” And then by checking the 12 Videos of Keifer and the 34 in Los Angeles to cross-eliminate, I would find that there are actually three assets of Keifer in Los Angeles. And then you would also see that the character Jack Bauer also has a cameo on “The Simpsons.” Rich metadata allows us to create relationship between assets at multiple levels. Those various facets allow you to not only navigate through hundreds if not thousands of media assets, but to easily discover specific content as well. And finally, having immediate access to these results for viewing or editing is what makes the Dalet MAM a harmonious ecosystem for not only information but also action/manipulation of said assets.
CCW, SOA, FIMS and the King & Queen of the Media Industry
All-Star Panel Sessions at CCW 2014 The NAB-backed CCW held some impressive panels, and our own Stephane Guez (Dalet CTO) and Luc Comeau (Dalet Business Development Manager) participated in two of the show’s hot topics. MAM, It’s All About Good Vocabulary – Luc Comeau, Senior Business Development Manager The saying goes, “behind every great man, there is a greater woman.” Within the panel – “Content Acquisition and Management Platform: A Service-Oriented Approach” – there was a lot of talk about content being king. In my view then, metadata is his queen. Metadata gives you information that a MAM can capitalize on and allows you to build the workflow to enable your business vision. Done correctly and enterprise MAM will give you visibility into the entire organization, allowing you to better orchestrate both the technical and human process. Because at the end of the day, it’s the visibility of the entire organization that allows you to make better decisions, like whether or not you need to make a change or adapt your infrastructure to accommodate new workflows. In our session, the conversation very quickly headed towards the topic of interoperability. Your MAM must have a common language to interface with all the players. If it doesn’t, you will spend an enormous amount of time translating so these players can work together. And if the need arises, and it usually does, you may need to replace one component with another that speaks a foreign language, well then, you are back to square one. A common framework will ensure a smooth sequence through production and distribution. A common framework, perhaps, such as FIMS… The One Thing Everyone Needs to Know About FIMS – Stephane Guez, Dalet CTO I was invited by Janet Gardner, president of Perspective Media Group, Inc., to participate in the FIMS (Framework for Interoperable Media Services) conference panel she moderated at CCW 2014. The session featured Loic Barbou, chair of the FIMS Technical Board, Jacki Guerra, VP, Media Asset Services for A+E Networks, and Roman Mackiewicz, CIO Media Group at Bloomberg – two broadcasters that are deploying FIMS-compliant infrastructures. The aim of the session was to get the broadcasters’ points of views on their usage of the FIMS standard. The FIMS project was initiated to define standards that enable media systems to be built using a Service Orientated Architecture (SOA). FIMS has enormous potential benefits for both media organizations and the vendors/manufacturers that supply them, defining common interfaces for archetypal media operations such as capture, transfer, transform, store and QC. Global standardization of these interfaces will enable us, as an industry, to respond more quickly and cost effectively to the innovation and the constantly evolving needs and demands of media consumers. Having begun in December 2009, the FIMS project is about to enter it’s 6th year, but the immense scale of the task is abundantly clear, with the general opinion of the panelists being that we are at the beginning of a movement – still very much a work-in-progress with a lot of work ahead of us. One thing, however, was very clear from the discussion: Broadcasters need to be the main driver for FIMS. In doing so, they will find there are challenges and trade offs. FIMS cannot be adopted overnight. There are many existing, complex installations that rely on non-FIMS equipment. It will take some time before these systems can be converted to a FIMS-compliant infrastructure. Along with the technology change, there is the need to evolve the culture. For many, FIMS will put IT at the center of their production. A different world and skill set, many organizations will need to adapt both their workforce and workflow to truly reap the advantages of FIMS.
An IBC preview that won’t leave you dizzy
When we write these blog entries each week, we normally ensure we have a draft a few days in advance to make sure we have plenty of time to review, edit and make sure that the content is worth publishing. This entry was late, very late. This pre-IBC post has been hugely challenging to write for two reasons: Drone-mounted Moccachino machines are not on the agenda – but Bruce’s post last week definitely has me avoiding marketing “spin.” There are so many things I could talk about, it’s been a struggle to determine what to leave out. Earlier this year, at the NAB Show, we announced the combination of our Workflow Engine, including the Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) 2.0-compliant workflow designer, and our Dalet AmberFin media processing platform. Now generally available in the AmberFin v11 release, we’ll be demonstrating how customers are using this system to design, automate and monitor their media transcode and QC workflows, in mission-critical multi-platform distribution operations. Talking of multi-platform distribution, our Dalet Galaxy media asset management now has the capability to publish directly to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, while the new Media Packages feature simplifies the management of complex assets, enabling users to see all of the elements associated with a specific asset, such as different episodes, promos etc., visually mapped out in a clear and simple way. Making things simple is somewhat of a theme for Dalet at IBC this year. Making ingest really easy for Adobe Premiere users, the new Adobe Panel for Dalet Brio enables users to start, stop, monitor, quality check and ingest directly from the Adobe Premiere Pro interface with new recordings brought directly into the edit bin. We’ll also be demonstrating the newly redesigned chat and messaging module in Dalet Galaxy, Dalet WebSpace and the Dalet On-the-Go mobile application. The modern, and familiar, chat interface has support for persistent chats, group chats, messaging offline users and much more. Legislation and consolidation of workflows mean that captioning and subtitling are a common challenge for many facilities. We are directly addressing that challenge with a standards-based, cross-platform strategy for the handling of captioning workflows across Dalet Galaxy, Dalet Brio and Dalet AmberFin. With the ability to read and write standards-constrained TTML, caption and subtitle data is searchable and editable inside the Dalet Galaxy MAM, while Dalet Brio is able to capture caption- and subtitle-containing ancillary data packets to disk and play them back. Dalet AmberFin natively supports the extraction and insertion of subtitle and caption data to and from .SCC and .STL formats respectively, while tight integration with other vendors extends support for other vendors. There are so many other exciting new features I could talk about, but it’s probably best to see them for yourself live in Amsterdam. Of course, if you’re not going to the show, you can always get the latest by subscribing to the blog, or get in touch with your local representative to get more information. There, and I didn’t even mention buzzwords 4K and cloud… …yet!
AmsterMAM – What’s New With Dalet at IBC (Part 1)
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may also receive our newsletters (if not, email us and we’ll sign you up) – the latest edition of which lists 10 reasons to visit Dalet at the upcoming IBC show (stand 8.B77). Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be using this blog to expand on some of those reasons, starting this week with a focus on Media Asset Management (MAM) and the Dalet Galaxy platform. Three years ago, putting together an educational seminar for SMPTE, Bruce Devlin (star of this blog and Chief Media Scientist at Dalet) interviewed a number of MAM vendors and end users about what a MAM should be and do. Pulling together the responses – starting with a large number of post-it notes and ending with a large Venn diagram – it was obvious that what “MAM” means to you is very dependent on how you want to use it. What we ended up with was a “core” of functionality that was common to all MAM-driven workflows and a number of outer circles with workflow-specific tasks. This is exactly how Dalet Galaxy is built – a unified enterprise MAM core, supporting News, Production, Sports, Archive, Program Prep and Radio, with task-specific tools unique to each business solution. At IBC we’ll be showcasing these workflows individually, but based on the same Dalet Galaxy core. For news, we have two demonstrations. Dalet News Suite is our customizable, Enterprise multimedia news production and distribution system. This IBC we’ll be showcasing new integration with social media and new tools for remote, mobile and web-based working. We’ll also be demonstrating our fully-packaged, end-to-end solution for small and mid-size newsrooms, Dalet NewsPack. In sports workflows, quick turnaround and metadata entry is essential – we’ll be showing how Dalet Sports Factory, with new advanced logging capabilities, enables fast, high-quality sports production and distribution. IBC sees the European debut of the new Dalet Galaxy-based Dalet Radio Suite, the most comprehensive, robust and flexible radio production and playout solution available, featuring Dalet OneCut editing, a rock-solid playout module featuring integration with numerous third parties and class-leading multi-site operations. Dalet Media Life provides a rich set of user tools for program prep, archive and production workflows. New for IBC this year, we’ll be previewing new “track stack” functionality for multilingual and multi-channel audio workflows, extended integration with Adobe Premiere and enhanced workflow automation. If you want to see how the Dalet Galaxy platform can support your workflow, or be central to multiple workflows click here to book at meeting at IBC or get in touch with our sales team. You can also find out more about what we’re showing at IBC here.
More Secrets of Metadata
Followers of Bruce’s Shorts may remember an early episode on the Secrets of Metadata where I talked about concentrating on your metadata for your business, because it adds the value that you need. It seems the world is catching onto the idea of business value of metadata, and I don’t even have to wrestle a snake to explain it! Over the last 10 years of professional media file-based workflows, there have been many attempts at creating standardized metadata schemes. A lot of these have been generated by technologists trying to do the right thing or trying to fix a particular technical problem. Many of the initiatives have suffered from limited deployment and limited adoption because the fundamental questions they were asking centered on technology and not the business application. If you center your metadata around a business application, then you automatically take into account the workflows required to create, clean, validate, transport, store and consume that metadata. If you center the metadata around the technology, then some or all of those aspects are forgotten – and that’s where the adoption of metadata standards falls down. Why? It’s quite simple. Accurate metadata can drive business decisions that in turn improves efficiency and covers the cost of the metadata creation. Many years ago, I was presenting with the head of a well-known post house in London. He stood on stage and said in his best Australian accent “I hate metadata." You guys want me to make accurate, human oriented metadata in my facility for no cost, so that you guys can increase your profits at my expense.” Actually he used many shorter words that I’m not able to repeat here J. The message that he gave is still completely valid today: If you’re going to create accurate metadata, then who is going to consume it? If the answer is no one, ever, then you’re doing something that costs money for no results. That approach does not lead to a good long-term business. If the metadata is consumed within your own organization, then you ask the question: “Does it automate one or many processes downstream?” The automation might be a simple error check or a codec choice or an email generation or a target for a search query. The more consuming processes there are for a metadata field, the more valuable it can become. If the metadata is consumed in a different organization, then you have added value to the content by creating metadata. The value might be expressed in financial terms or in good-will terms, but fundamentally a commercial transaction is taking place by the creation of that metadata. The UK’s Digital Production Partnership and the IRT in Germany have both made great progress towards defining just enough metadata to reduce friction in B2B (business to business) file transfer in the broadcast world. Cablelabs continues to do the same for the cable world and standards bodies such as SMPTE are working with the EBU to make a core metadata definition that accelerates B2B ecommerce type applications. I would love to say that we’ve cracked the professional metadata problem, but the reality is that we’re still half way through the journey. I honestly don’t know how many standards we need. A single standard that covers every media application will be too big and unwieldy. A different standard for each B2B transaction type will cost too much to implement and sustain. I’m thinking we’ll be somewhere between these two extremes in the “Goldilocks zone,” where there are just enough schemas and the implementation cost is justified by the returns that a small number of standards can bring. As a Media Asset Management company, we spend our daily lives wrestling with the complexities of metadata. I live in hope that at least the B2B transaction element of that metadata will one day be as easy to author and as interoperable as a web page. Until then, why not check out the power of search from Luc’s blog. Without good metadata, it would be a lot less exciting.
Why Ingest to the Cloud?
With Cloud storage becoming cheaper and the data transfer to services such as Amazon S3 storage being free of charge, there are numerous reasons why ingesting to the Cloud should be part of any media organization’s workflow. So, stop trying to calculate how much storage your organization consumes by day, month or year, or whether you need a NAS, a SAN or a Grid, and find out why Cloud could be just what your organization needs. Easy Sharing of Content Instead of production crews or field journalists spending copious amounts of time and money shipping hard drives to the home site or being limited by the bandwidth of an FTP server when uploading content, with object storage services like Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure, uploading content to the Cloud has become easy and cheap. Once content is uploaded to the Cloud, anyone with secure credentials can access it from anywhere in the world. Rights Access to Content In recent news, cloud storage services such as Apple iCloud were hacked and private content was stolen, increasing the concern about security and access rights to content in the Cloud. With secure connections such as VPN and rights access management tools, you can specify, by user, group access rights and duration of how long content can be accessed on the Cloud. Both Microsoft and Amazon have setup security features to protect your data as well as to replicate content to more secure locations. Cloud Services to Process the Data By uploading content to the Cloud, in the backend you can setup services and workflows to run QC checks on the content, stream media, transcode to multiple formats, and organize the content for search and retrieval using a Media Asset Management (MAM) System hosted on the Cloud. Cloud Scalability Rather than buying an expensive tape library or continuing to purchase more hardware for a spinning disk storage, with cloud storage, one can scale down or scale up with the click of a button. No need for over-provisioning. Disaster Recovery An organization can easily set up secure data replication from one site to another or institute replication rules to copy content to multiple virtual containers, offering assurance that content will not be lost. Amazon S3 provides durable infrastructure to store important data and is designed for durability of 99.99999999% of objects. Moving Towards an OPEX Model As operations and storage move to the Cloud, you can control your investment by paying as you use services and storing content on the Cloud. Instead of investing on infrastructure maintenance and support, with operations on the Cloud, you can focus the investment on what makes a difference, the content and not the infrastructure to support it. Why Upload to the Cloud? The Cloud is no longer a technology of the future, with cloud storage adopted by Google, Facebook and Instagram, Cloud technology is the reality of today. By adopting this technology you control your investment by usage needs, backup your data and provide secure access to content to anyone with credentials anywhere in the world. The biggest limitation now is bandwidth, and the hurdle is adjusting the current infrastructure to support Cloud operations. Many organizations are turning towards a hybrid Cloud model, where content and services are hosted both locally and via Cloud solutions. Learning from the Cloud experience, Dalet has made initiatives over the past few years to evolve existing tools and services for the Cloud. Dalet now offers direct ingest from the Dalet Brio video server to Amazon S3 Storage and, at NAB this year in Las Vegas, Dalet showcased the first MAM-based Newsroom on the Cloud. To learn more about Dalet ingest solutions, please visit the ingest application page.
5 reasons why media delivery standards might be good for your business
Like me, I am sure that you have been to a restaurant in a group and everyone orders from the set menu EXCEPT for that one person who orders the exotic, freshly prepared fugu, which requires an extra 30 minutes of preparation from a licensed fugu chef so that the customers don't die eating it. Restaurant etiquette means that our main course is served at the same time, forcing everyone to spend a long time hungry, waiting for the special case. And if you split the bill equally, the special case becomes subsidised by the people wanting the set meal. Does this model relate to the media industry? Is there a cost for being special? How can we reduce that cost? What gets done with the cost savings? How can you help? Fortunately those 5 questions lead into 5 reasons why delivery standards might be a good idea. 1. The set meal is more efficient than the a la carte I must confess that when I write this blog while hungry there will be a lot of food analogies. I'm quite simple really. In the "set meal" case - you can see how it's easier for the kitchen to make a large volume of the most common meal and to deliver it more quickly and accurately than a large number of individual cases. In the file delivery world, the same is true. By restricting the number of choices to a common subset that meet a general business need, it is a lot easier to test the implementations by multiple vendors and to ensure that interoperability is maximised for minimum cost. In a world where every customer can choose a different mix of codecs, audio layout, subtitle & caption formats, you quickly end up with an untestable mess. In that chaotic world, you will also get a lot of rejects. It always surprises me, how few companies have any way of measuring the cost of those rejects, even though they are known to cause pain in the workflow. A standardised, business-oriented delivery specification should help to reduce all of these problems. 2. Is there a cost for being special? I often hear the statement – "It's only an internal format - we don't need to use a standard". The justification is often that the company can react more quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately, every decision has a lifespan. These short-term special decisions often start with a single vendor implementing the special internal format. Time passes and then a second vendor implements it, then a third. Ultimately the custom cost engineering the special internal format is spent 3 or 4 times with different vendors. Finally the original equipment will end of life and the whole archive will have to be migrated. This is often the most costly part of the life cycle as the obsolete special internal format is carefully converted into something new and hopefully more interchangeable. Is there a cost of being special? Oh yes, and it is often over and over again. 3. How can we reduce costs? The usual way to reduce costs is to increase automation and to increase "lights out" operation. In the file delivery world, this means automation of transcode AND metadata handling AND QC AND workflow. At Dalet and AmberFin, all these skills are well understood and mastered. The cost savings come about when the number of variables in the system is reduced and the reliability increases. Limiting the choices on metadata, QC metrics, transcode options, workflow branches increases the likelihood of success. Learning from experiences of the Digital Production Partnership in the UK, it seems that tailoring a specific set of QC tests to a standardised delivery specification with standardised metadata will increase efficiency and reduce costs. The Joint Task Force on File Formats and Media Interoperability is building on the UK's experience to create an American standard that will continue to deliver these savings 4. What gets done with the cost savings? The nice thing about the open standards approach is the savings are shared between the vendors who make the software (they don't have to spend as much money testing special formats) and the owners of that software (who spend less time and effort on-boarding, interoperability testing and regression testing when they upgrade software versions.) 5. How can you help? The easiest way is to add your user requirements to the Joint Task Force on File Formats and Media Interoperability list. These user requirements will be used to prioritise the standardisation work and help deliver a technical solution to a commercial problem. For an overview of some of the thinking behind the technology, you could check out my NAB2014 video on the subject, or the presentation given by Clyde Smith of Fox. Until next time.
Dalet @ Broadcast Asia 2015
As we look forward to another exciting show at BCA 2015, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the media and entertainment industry in the Asia-Pacific region. There are a few things that always stand out when working in Asia. First is the wide availability and rapid adoption of the latest consumer technology. In M&E, this has driven the requirement to deliver to more and more platforms. While multi-version workflows were always core to many projects in the region, especially where content is distributed in so many languages across a wide geography, this expansion to support multiple platforms has added a further dimension and really brought home the value and return on investment that well designed and deployed MAM-driven workflows can bring to an organizations. MAM-driven workflows such as the Dalet Galaxy-based solutions that have been and are currently being deployed at big-name broadcasters, content owners and content distributors across the whole region. Of course, implementing a MAM and a MAM-driven workflow can represent a big change for the large number of media industry professionals here in Asia. Ensuring that we manage that change as we implement systems is just as important as the deployment of the technology itself. In recognition of this, Dalet has continued to expand our project management and training teams in the region, ensuring that all the support you need before, during and after installing projects is ready and available whenever you need it. Indeed, the team has grown so big, we’re moving to a new office – look out for a change of address soon. If you’ll be at BroadcastAsia next week, we’d love to see you. We’ll be exhibiting in booth 5A5-12 and invite you to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a Dalet media workflow expert. And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to register for BCA today! Hope to see you there.
Dalet acquires AmberFin – One Year On
To be precise, on the day this is published, it is one year, one month, one week and one day since Dalet acquired AmberFin on the 6th of April 2014. It seems like an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the last 13 months. It wasn’t entirely by accident, but we were certainly fortunate, that we finalised the acquisition on the eve of NAB 2014. This not only presented an ideal opportunity for both teams to come together (a rarity with Dalet spread across 18 offices worldwide) and jointly talk to customers, but also established a milestone to annually measure the integration of people & technology. People are at the heart of any business, but given the level of professional services that Dalet provides to our customers, they are absolutely core to our business. It was immediately obvious at NAB 2014 that the AmberFin team were going to merge well with Dalet, and over the past year, we have been able to “blend” skills and start sharing knowledge across the now united organisation. By way of example, Arnaud Elnecave, a long-serving Dalet employee, recently assumed the position of General Manager of Products, taking global responsibility for our packaged product and solutions business, including Dalet AmberFin and Dalet Brio, while Simon Adler, formerly of AmberFin, took over Arnaud’s previous role as General Manager for our West Coast operations. Integrating AmberFin technology into the Dalet offering started immediately following the acquisition, and at IBC last September, we showcased how AmberFin technology could be used in multi-lingual/multi-version workflows, using the transcoder as a render engine under the Dalet Track Stack tool. At NAB, we showed customers further benefits of the acquisition with the combination of the Dalet Workflow Engine and Dalet AmberFin as a user-intuitive solution for orchestrating media-centric workflows. Of course, we also brought together a huge wealth of knowledge. Following on from the success of the “AmberFin Academy” – the free educational program – and its feature series, “Bruce’s Shorts,” we launched the Dalet Academy in January of this year, featuring a much broader topic set with more contributors (including partners, customers and consultants), as well as more blogs, webinars and live events at trade shows and conferences. In the background, we have of course merged the operations of the two companies. This is never an easy task and I take this opportunity to thank those involved for making that happen so smoothly. So, what’s next? I can’t reveal too much of the roadmap, but it is safe to say that our investment in AmberFin will continue to reap benefits for our customers, whether they come to us for a standalone transcoder or an enterprise-wide media asset management system. Acquisitions aren’t necessarily easy to get right; in fact, one article from Business Review Europe sites a Harvard Business Review report showing M&A failure rates as high as 90%. We like to consider ourselves a part of the 10%. One year on, Dalet, our partners and our customers are seeing and will continue to see the benefits of an excellent match in vision, technology and people.
BEST…NAB…EVER!!!!!
The other day, a member of our talented development team commented, quite accurately, that every time we return from an NAB Show, we nearly always refer to it as the biggest, busiest and best NAB ever. If you’ve ever watched or read one of my presentations or blogs on workflow, you may recollect that I’m a fan of the Toyota Production System and the “Kaizen” concept of continuous improvement. However, I do confess that, following my colleagues’ observation, I momentarily felt a certain amount of pressure to come back from NAB 2015 with evidence that it really was bigger, busier and better than previous years. However, earlier today I was talking to the editor of one of our excellent industry magazines about the most likely themes and trends for this year’s show and something struck me. Although I’m not much of a fan of “buzzword bingo,” given the host of announcements we at Dalet have for this year’s show, I’d place a bet on us sweeping the board. Even before the show, we’ll bring UHD to Dalet AmberFin – supporting UHD inputs in our next release at the end of March. By decoupling format from transport mechanism, Video over IP is one of the most revolutionary changes to the industry in some time, and our Dalet Brio video server platform is spearheading that charge. Building on all of this, Dalet Galaxy, our media asset management platform, continues to facilitate and enhance collaborative workflows with new features for user interaction and geographically dispersed operations –I can barely contain myself from mentioning the “C” word! It doesn’t stop there though. Back in September, we got quite emotional about being one of the first vendors to have a product certified for the creation of UK DPP files. The DPP has led the way in specifying standards and operational guidelines for file delivery and as other regions has followed, Dalet has been right there supporting them. Demonstrating our continued commitment to international standards that improve, ease and simplify the lives of our customers, we’ve now implemented the FIMS capture service in the Brio video server. I believe that initiatives like FIMS become ever more important as the video world increasingly leverages IT technology and, specifically, interaction between control and capture devices as we move to an era of hybrid SDI and IP acquisition. Despite regulatory rulings in the US and elsewhere, captioning and subtitling technology has seen little innovation in the last few years. Since Dalet and AmberFin came together a year ago, we’ve really focused on this as an area where our knowledge and expertise can benefit the industry as a whole. We’re now ready to show you what we’ve been up to and how we can simplify captioning workflows and bring them into multi-platform, multi-version workflows in an effective and efficient way. You’re probably aware of the Dalet Academy, which was launched with much fanfare in January this year. The response from the wider industry has simply been immense, and we now have many thousands of followers subscribed to the Bruce’s Shorts videos and reading our educational blog. For NAB 2015, we’ll be donning our robes and mortarboards to bring the Dalet Academy to the stage, live on our booth (SL4525). Bruce will be there – in his actual shorts – to present special live editions of the video series with support from other Dalet and industry experts for more short seminars. All of the presentations at the show will be followed by a special round-table discussion (limited seating). And while you’re keeping your media knowledge in good shape, there will also be an opportunity to win prizes that are sure to keep you in good shape too! To make sure the excitement doesn’t overwhelm too much, we’re keeping a couple of bits of news to ourselves until the show itself, but if you want to find out more on any of the topics I’ve touched on here, be sure to get in touch, book an appointment, or read more on our dedicated NAB page. As for our development team – sorry guys, I can already tell you that this year is going to be the biggest, busiest and best NAB Show so far!
Live from the NAB – sort of!
Normally during a big trade show, such as NAB or IBC, we would have a blog from the show floor – primarily to give our readers not attending the show a glimpse into the main topics of discussion and general vibe at the convention center. The sharp-eyed among you will, therefore, have noted that we’re a little late on this one – sorry – the show was simply that busy that we never had the opportunity. To make it up to you, we’ve compiled show highlights from some of our Academy all-stars. Ben: The one comment that has stuck with me from the show was, “It’s nice to have a focus on technology after all the mergers and acquisitions of last year!” I don’t think it’s fair to say that the industry stopped innovating or releasing new products last year, it’s simply that the news and talk at both last NAB and IBC was largely around the quantity and nature of all the M&A activity and, as a result, many key developments were overlooked. This year, not only did we start to see some of the benefits of the merging of disciplines and technologies, such as the combination of the Dalet Galaxy Workflow Engine and Dalet AmberFin transcoder, but also some significant steps forward in support of 4K/UHD workflows, IP and virtualization. Kevin: Being another busy NAB, I had very little time to walk the floor. But in meeting a lot of present and future customers and partners, I noted two key takeaways. It seems that our industry is getting out of all the Cloud “buzz” and entering a time where there are actual professional applications for it. It feels like everyone is much more educated around the topic of Cloud. Broadcasters, media organizations and vendors alike understand better the challenges and opportunities that it brings from a business point of view, and how it can / should fit in their operations. I think we are finally in a position where we can start to use the cloud for smart workflows and was really happy with the warm reception for our various cloud initiatives, particularly the showcase of our “Newsroom in the Cloud.” Collaboration was another major highlight at the show. Everyone seemed highly interested in the topic. In Dalet systems, we have been implementing and promoting collaboration tools for many years, whether in the facility, across different locations or for users on the field. But this year, the interest and feedback we received about our latest improvements (like bringing some social collaboration tools into the professional world) was way beyond any response we’d gotten in the past. Having various talents collaborating to produce better content seems now to be a priority for our customers, and I’m happy we are in as good a position as ever to help them do it. Bruce: Many discussions of how to ready a business for UHD and whether that UHD would be higher resolution, higher frame rate, higher dynamic range, higher colour profiles or all of the above led to discussions on IMF – the interoperable mastering format. Personally I find this to be excellent news. Seven years on from specifying AS02, it is reassuring to see it reborn with shiny SMPTE IMF specifications and a better understanding in the industry as to the commercial benefits of working with media in a componentised form. Seeing the level of understanding amongst our customers leads me to believe that the transition to IT thinking is now firmly in train. No longer is “IT-based” a technology that you buy, it is a way of architecting and thinking about the business problems to be solved. Stephane: It is interesting to see that this industry continues to evolve rapidly year after year. Information technology is an integral part of the future of radio and television. In the early days of Dalet, I used to say informally that our mission was to bring the best of IT technology to the broadcast and media industry. This continues today with Cloud-based solutions, IP distribution, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Business Process Management, and Dalet is at the forefront of that trend, bringing innovations that are changing and improving the workflows to produce and distribute content. Constant change indeed, but with the need to link the old and the new, whether in formats, protocols, or workflows, to preserve valuable content produced in the past and make it available on an ever-increasing range of distribution platforms. These are factors of complexity: Will IT help us resolve these challenges? At Dalet we believe that emerging new standards and industry initiatives such as IMF or FIMS should help reduce that complexity. The whole industry should take part and benefit from these efforts. Bruce summarizes: The big takeaway for me from both the show and this discussion is that there is no single dominant technological driver any more – there are a number that are pushing and pulling the industry in different directions. No single human can understand every nuance of the technological drivers, and so community education becomes more and more important. The great turnout that we had for all the free Dalet Academy presentations and workshops is a testament to the fact that our customers, partners, competitors and newcomers to the industry all need access to the latest information. I can't predict the future, but I can be confident that the breadth of our work here at Dalet is helping prepare a broad section of the industry to be ready for that future.