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Front Porch Digital Moves Online with DigitalSmiths

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On the last day of the International Broadcast Conference (IBC) I met with Rino Petricola, senior vice president and international managing director of Front Porch Digital. The company might be new to StreamingMedia.com readers, but Petricola's story about the three m's of Front Porch Digital's strategy-Migrate, Manage, Market-fits nicely within the ecosystem of our readers' interests.

Front Porch Digital (FPD) is a Louisville, Colorado-based company that boasts a very large broadcast and premium content customer base. For the past 10 years, it has served these companies with its line of migration products, digitizing videotape-based content via its SAMMArobot and SAMMAsolo products: In either manual (for small batches) or robotic (for large-scale digitization) modes, the SAMMA line can clean, digitize, and catalog content.

"From videotape on the shelves of major broadcasters," said Petricola, "we can move this content into the digital environment using an automated workflow that's tried and tested in high profile installations. The automation is key, since many customers have both very large quantities of tape as well as a need to digitize to different mezzanine and archival storage formats."

Once digitized, the company's DIVAsolutions production allow for storage across a variety of IT storage solutions. Based on a robust Oracle database implementation, which allows for the tracking of large file or "blob" movement from hard drive to RAM to data-tape libraries, the DIVAsolutions provide media asset management (MAM) for any number of digital files.

"DIVArchive and DIVAdirector are the cornerstone of DIVAsolutions," said Petricola, "managing assets reliably, while distributing content throughout the organization to the key systems and platforms."

One part of today's discussion centered on the broadcasters' ability to give up control of their videotapes, which have traditionally been housed close by to the editing suites, within easy reach if previous footage needed to be re-purposed.

Petricola and I swapped stories of having broadcast clients over the years who were concerned about the inability to touch the videotapes, yet he says that model is finally shifting.

"As more and more content is moved from videotape to MAM, the broadcaster doesn't necessarily need to know where it's stored," said Petricola. "We use HSM and other file storage and transport protocols, even robotic tape libraries, to make certain the files are accessible at any time to any part of the production chain."

To fully allow for retrieval of content at a granular level-finding clips instead of just the file(s) that make up the entire videotape-Petricola agrees that a form of indexing, search, and retrieval (ISR) needs to be implemented.

Most broadcasters do not run content through an ISR system at the time of digitization, as they don't yet see the value of having content searchable at a granular level. This is slowly changing, though, as the broadcasters begin to repurpose content for online video delivery.

"We've announced an agreement with DigitalSmiths," said Petricola, "in which content that has already been digitized and added to the DIVAsolutions MAM storage can be repurposed for online use via the third m-Market."

Content intended for online video use is run through DigitalSmiths' metadata generation solution, under a brand name that Front Porch Digital calls DIVApublish.

"DIVApublish automates extensive frame-based, searchable metadata creation for each asset," said Petricola, "creating a 'metadata map' that offers detailed content insight into your media. DIVApublish also provides complete online distribution, scheduling, and in depth analytics."

This online distribution includes delivery to multiple screens, whether it be IPTV, a laptop/desktop or even mobile phones.

Like DigitalSmith's VideoSense product, on which DIVApublish is based, the solution provides access to multiple metadata tracks in a unique time-based, metadata management framework. The video tags generated out of these timelines can then be integrated with rights management and release scheduling to schedules a range of time that video content is available for delivery.

Analytics also allows for audience monitoring, using metrics for discover whether programming of content and scheduling of the content is effective.

Add this trackable aspect to a variety of distribution models allowed by DIVApublish-free, pay-per-view and subscription-and it's easy to see where the concept of Market comes into play for the 3 M strategy Front Porch Digital provides.

"We're excited about the addition of Market to the concepts of Migrate and Manage," said Petricola, "since we see this as a natural step in the evolution of broadcasting. Once content is digitized, properly stored and archived, it's in the best financial interest of broadcasters to market content that would otherwise sit dormant for years."

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