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Digitalsmiths Acquisition Fills Out Metadata Portfolio

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Ben Weinberger, CEO of Digitalsmiths, is having a hectic Thanksgiving season. Not only is the company moving in to what he describes as "exposed brick, warehouse-feel" offices in a revitalized part of Durham, North Carolina, but the company has also acquired a complementary metadata company.

Digitalsmiths announced on Wednesday that is was acquiring Gotuit Media Corporation of Woburn, Massachusetts. Like Digitalsmiths, Gotuit was a finalist in the 2010 Streaming Media Readers' Choice Awards, with Digitalsmiths VideoSense 3.0 winning the search and indexing platform category.

"DigitalSmiths has focused on primarily film and television clients," Weinberger said in an interview this morning. "We provide search and indexing solutions for pre-produced premium content sitting in a file, on a reel or on tape.

"Gotuit, on the other hand, has focused on news and sports, with the ability to do live events."

The combined company matches up well against all-in-one solutions like Pictron which handles both file-based and live metadata. Digitalsmiths doesn't have its own proxy creation, nor does Gotuit, but Weinberger says that's not its core focus.

"We don't do proxy creation, but we partner with encoding companies like Inlet to do so," he said. "One of the unique things that we can do is offset and re-align metadata to any version of a master, so we can marry the proxy to not only an archive file but even to the master broadcast feed, alerting the live production team to the offset from the timecode-based asset against the streaming proxy file."

This ability to marry old, tried-and-true broadcasting solutions with new media, which have often been consigned to separate roles within a broadcast organization, is not necessarily new, but is a sign of a growing trend we first discussed in a September article about online video through broadcasters eyes.

"We can certainly augment broadcast master in one model," Weinberger said, "but the Gotuit acquisition allows us to excel in accelerating separate web-based workflow for live events, like a PGA or NBA online highlight reel during the course of the event."

When asked about the potential perception of conflict with current partners, with an emphasis on Front Porch Digital, which we covered in September.  Weinberger said the benefit is an all-in-one approach that takes a number of partners.

"Front Porch Digital has come to market with DigitalSmiths to bring their tape conversion and content management of file-based assets to a deeper level," he said, "which requires the presentation of files, wrapped in deep, frame-by-frame metadata, not only for internal content management, but also as a way to package for external sites, whether it be Hulu, iTunes, or others.

"The Gotuit acquisition allows Digitalsmiths to continue to position ourselves to work with all parts of the media process, rounding out offerings that started with key studio partnerships and key ecosystem providers such as Front Porch Digital, which is one of the leading content management solutions."

In the end, Weinberger said the acquisition is all about creating a one-stop shopping experience.

"We're in the business of deep metadata extraction that can drive search and next-generation recommendation engines," said Weinberger.  "Gotuit gives us the ability to go to our existing film and pre-produced television premium content customers and offer a broader service."

It's an easy mental leap to see that a one-stop shop could fit nicely in to the likes of a Disney model, where premium film and pre-produced television content would go hand-in-hand with ESPN and ABC News live television metadata capture.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but VentureWire quoted Digitalsmiths Director Wright Steenrod, who is also a principal of Chrysalis Ventures, on the conversion of Gotuit shareholders to Digitalsmiths shareholders.

"If Google or Bing were confined to searching by blog title posts and magazine article titles," Steenrod said, "you would find their search a lot less fulfilling. We aim to bring that level of context to video by bringing together two leading companies around millisecond-by-millisecond indexing of video content."

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