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Take Back Control of Your Content

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Over the years, media companies have gone in two main directions with their content libraries. Many have created an on-prem storage infrastructure that has grown organically as they have expanded and now covers several disparate systems, from spinning disks to LTO tape. This means their content is spread over different technologies, sometimes in different locations, and it is hard to manage, keep track of, and access swiftly when needed.

Others have given their content to a service provider who is now storing the content in its own on-prem infrastructure. This results in many of the same problems, just one step removed, and leads the media company to be beholden to the third party to act fast when they need their content, often with associated costs.

Not having control of the content when needed is a real pain point for many companies. With the proliferation of platforms and delivery formats in recent years, the need to access media libraries quickly and efficiently, as well as distribute that content quickly and efficiently, has only increased. 

Cloud-based storage has helped solve most of these pain points. Cloud-based content storage platforms provide rapid access, OpEx payments, and companies no longer need to rely on large capital expenditures and major technological refreshes every 3 to 5 years to build out more storage. They can store their content more cost-effectively and access it faster than ever before. Cloud-based storage can also sit across cloud storage buckets as well as on-prem storage systems enabling one view on across all of your content. 

For companies looking to take control of their content, this is just the first stage of a process that is starting to evolve steadily and move to a more cloud-based, increasingly efficient, workflow.

Here’s an example workflow that addresses this problem through a control and management layer.

When content is first brought into the cloud, it can be inspected, normalized, and put it into a "house" format. Over the years, companies can end up storing content in many formats, so normalizing it into one standard format at the highest native resolution for future use is an important step. This can be based on an interoperable master format (IMF) architecture, which a lot of people are starting to embrace, or it can be on a flat-file IMF component-based architecture. Either way, it gives content owners a really good insight into the content they have, and it helps them to de-dupe their library.

A lot of people have multiple versions of the same piece of content, and they're not always necessarily aware of this. De-duping enables people to use their libraries more efficiently and can lead to some impressive savings. It is estimated that companies can save well over 50% of their ongoing storage costs just by de-duping alone.

Once a content owner has their content in the cloud in the format that they want it in, they can start to build cloud-based workflows as opposed to on-prem workflows. Content owners don't have to pull down content onto an on-prem system to transcode it to deliver it to an OTT platform, nor do they have to pull down full, large, native frame-rate assets to do a compliance edit or a color correction or any similar postproduction process. More and more of these workflows are starting to happen natively in the cloud.

This enables content owners to perform services in the cloud and collaborate globally on one storage platform, for instance, versus having to replicate storage infrastructure and distribute it around the world. The cloud’s ability to scale processing also means that tasks such as IMF asset transcoding can be performed 10 to 20 times faster than conventional on-prem methods. That means all the work, such as versioning and localization, is done on the native frame rate file, and that builds more efficiencies and consistency downstream. 

What we are seeing is that automating workflow processes results in companies performing the same tasks with fewer people and eliminates the requirement of a middleman to do it. For example, content owners can conform their content to a consumer-facing platforms requirements and perform a cloud-to-cloud delivery. There is no need to send it to a third party or receive it back on-prem only to send it back to the cloud again. 

This sort of process is going to continue to become more automated as people build bridges consisting of service-triggered APIs between the studios, production companies, and platforms. 

We are in the early days of such platforms and it is interesting to think how they might evolve into the future. A developing online marketplace is one possibility. For example, if someone uploads content and they've signed a new deal and want to send it to Japan, a company that specializes in work for the Japanese market could be able to bid on fulfilling it. 

Among other benefits, this will provide greater visibility into costs because these individual workflow elements will be in the cloud. As everything is consolidated into a continuous workflow, the right platform will be able to predict exactly what the costs will be with much greater accuracy. Companies will potentially know, not estimate, their cost of delivery before they make a deal and they will obtain more insight into the true cost of doing business. 

Taking control of ones own content is just the start of the process. From there, companies can start building workflows that take control of the whole pipeline, realizing dramatic efficiencies and building a media business fit for competing on the world stage in the 2020s.

[Editor's note: This is a vendor-contributed byline from Ownzones. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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