Making Order From Chaos in a Growing World of Media
Video content: it’s taking over the world. Once the preserve of a few major television broadcasters, now even the smallest of organisations in the strangest of niches can find themselves with a whole library of AV and media assets: a library that can quickly become unwieldy and messy, if not managed properly.
This is because managing AV assets carries with it its own particular sets of challenges. Media assets are – by their nature – much harder to sort, search and categorise than data or text-based files. Imagine knowing that last year you recorded just the right talking-head clip on subject X, but have 500 interview videos that it could be located within. Where do you start in trying to find it? The effort of searching manually is simply prohibitive, and so the value of the media asset is instantly lost.
Other complexities come from the sheer range of technical elements that come associated with audio and video; file format, codec, resolution, frame rate… Not to mention the added concerns of data protection conformance, usage rights and access permissions. How do you check if Client A or Employee B is allowed access to Video Y, and what do you do when they need it in H.264 but you have it in MPEG2?
Now, one thing is for certain; as your media asset library grows, simply dumping it all into some hastily labelled folders and hoping for the best will not be sufficient. Indeed, not only does it fail to leverage the maximum possible value from your assets, it puts you in a position where you risk making expensive mistakes. Mismanagement can be costly.
And this goes double for organisations who share their media assets with third-parties – either as an incidental part of their work or as the backbone of their business model.
The need for Media Asset Management
If you’re working in any depth with media, there’s a reasonable chance you’ve already heard of MAM; Media Asset Management. For those of you who haven’t, a quick overview might be useful.
Simply put, a MAM is a place to store all of your Media Assets, combined with a GUI and platform that allows you – and potentially third parties – to access, sort, categorise and search them. It might also be combined with a range of tools which allow you to automate certain processes. Naturally, the sophistication with which any of these functions is achieved will vary between MAM providers.
Of course, as more and more organisations from a variety of different fields look to make more effective use of their media assets, the way in which they use those assets becomes more and more diverse. When Media Asset Management was the preserve of just a few high-level broadcasting firms, how they used their library was broadly similar, and so their management needs were fairly homogenized. MAM systems were much the same.
Now though, companies are varied in their needs. Even the very definition of a ‘media asset’ has extended beyond the conventional notion of AV media. Different businesses maintain diversified assets, in disparate databases, with varied workflows and complex interactions between stakeholders and assets. This means they have far more specific demands of their MAM – seeking a solution that is flexible, adaptable and configurable to their needs.
And that’s where VSNExplorer steps in.
One of the most pressing concerns in the maintenance of media libraries is the fact that increasingly, a wide range of stakeholders need access to this data. These stakeholders might be within the business, working with assets remotely. Or they might be external clients to the business, with the business providing a ‘hub’ of media to its own extensive client base.
Managing media access for either of these types of users is not necessarily a straightforward undertaking; these stakeholders might be working with different systems, they may need the media in different formats or with different conditions applied to it, and they may have different access rights or security considerations.
We designed the VSNExplorer MAM with the idea of third-party access in mind. First and foremost, VSNExplorer can operate on a cloud or hybrid cloud basis- compatible with all major storage technologies, thereby centralizing media assets and facilitating access from anywhere in the world. Indeed, a focus on compatibility is really at the heart of VSNExplorer; this means high-level transcoding abilities to make media available in the formats needed, integration with major social media, OTT, VoD and WebTV platforms, and an open API so that third parties can easily integrate access to VSNExplorer into their own workflows.
On top of this, VSNExplorer maintains a sophisticated user rights management system that ensures that third parties have access to what they need, but are excluded from what they don’t. Automation of user access in this way saves expensive and time-consuming headaches trying to manage the complexities of multi-party access, all with different negotiated contracts or security clearances.
Tools for speed, efficiency and accuracy
Whilst ‘traditional’ broadcasters may have quite vocal demands about what they expect from a MAM, non-traditional users can often be surprised at just how much functionality MAMs actually have built within them. They often simply don’t realise the scope that effective media asset management provides; making the whole process of media management smoother, simpler, clearer, faster, more efficient, and more accurate – often in ways they’d never imagined.
The functionality of VSNExplorer is vast – and, crucially, customizable to business needs. But first and foremost, we have paid attention to making the core processes as robust and market-leading as possible. This means exceptional searchability driven by AI-supported metadata – allowing functions such as facial recognition, speech to text and even sentiment analysis. This makes the act of categorizing and searching media libraries the work of mere moments when previously it would have been the work of many weeks.
It also means in-depth approaches to automation; taking regular tasks and check processes and taking the leg work out of them, thus reducing the need for human input, reducing the potential for human error, and significantly improving process efficiency. Moreover, with the VSNExplorer BPM (Business Process Management) module, the ability to customize and automate business processes and workflows becomes almost limitless.
A proven record of branching out
VSNExplorer already has a proven track record in the broadcast industry. But increasingly, a growing number of ‘non-traditional’ users have found that the flexibility of our MAM makes it perfect for their own applications. These clients come from diverse backgrounds – as far flung as the banking and energy sectors – and depend on the configurability and scalability of VSNExplorer to meet their specific needs.
Some of our most common ‘non-traditional’ users operate in the field of production and post-production. They need to ingest a range of different media sources, work on them, and then organise their output in a way that is accessible to their clients. Similarly, we have also supported the business activities of Content Preparers; organisations who essentially act as media ‘facilitators’; ingesting media, preparing it in the way that their various clients need (for instance, with branding and subtitles suitable for a particular channel or geographical region) and then distributing it to the customer. Being able to do this efficiently and accurately – offering maximum convenience to their clients – is key. That’s why they rely on VSNExplorer MAM.
Alternatively, we have a number of public or state institutions creating audiovisual content hubs to support community broadcasters in the provision of radio and television services which promote the heritage and history of autonomous regions. By allowing multiple stations to band together and access media through their centralized database (managed by VSNExplorer) these hub organisations allow individual broadcasters to work collectively, pooling their resources and improving their bargaining position.
For the types of operation above, the idea of acting as a facilitator or hub – supplying media content to third-parties – is at the heart of their operations, and managing the process effectively is core to their success. But other organisations may have simply found themselves with a surprising amount of internal media content; be this advertising and marketing assets, training videos, governmental communications or –in the case of educational institutions – a wealth of teaching assets. Finding a way to manage this effectively provides a genuine source of competitive advantage; it allows for companies to gain a clear overview of the assets they have and the value they could leverage from them, it maximizes efficiency, reduces mistakes, and facilitates remote working without compromise to accessibility or security.
The sky is the limit
But the examples above represent only a few of the forward-thinking organisations that have seen the potential value in managing their assets more effectively. The range of operations that VSNExplorer can be applied to is extensive, due to its modular, scalable, flexible and customizable nature (not to mention, the extensive level of customer support that sits at the heart of VSN’s business approach).
In essence, if you:
- Have an extensive – and growing – library of media assets, or act as a busy exchange for them
- Feel that you could leverage more value from these assets if you could gain insight into what you have at your fingertips through effective – and automated – categorization, metadata labelling and search function
- Need to facilitate smooth internal and third-party access to these assets, on a secure remote basis, whilst potentially accommodating complex contractual agreements relating to usage rights
- Want to improve efficiency, reduce error, drive revenue and reduce costs in the management and distribution of these assets…
… then we are confident that VSN has a MAM solution for you, regardless of your industry or area of operation. With VSN, MAM technology is ready to spread its wings and fly far beyond the broadcast industry. The sky is the limit…