| Subcribe via RSS

NAB Perspectives: Crawford Media Services’ Steve Davis On Engage, the ‘MAM for Everybody’

April 13th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Brandon Costa

While asset management can be a daunting task for even the largest of media companies, there are technology developers at this year’ NAB Show that are hoping to open the MAM door to all customer levels.

Steve Davis (left) joined by Emily Halevy, Director of Media Management Sales, at Crawford's booth in the South Upper Hall.

Steve Davis (left) joined by Emily Halevy, Director of Media Management Sales, at Crawford’s booth in the South Upper Hall.

Crawford Media Services (SU10713) has handled large scale media digitization projects – including with the WWE, where the company digitized more than 28,000 hours of content in 2010 in advance of the launch of the over-the-top WWE Network. But with updates to its robust platform, Engage, Crawford is looking to introduce the full digitization of the WWE’s archive back is showing off updates to its robust platform, Engage, a “MAM for everybody.”

Those are the words of Steve Davis, EVP and CTO at Crawford Media Services, who sat down with SVG to discuss the ever-changing world of asset management. 

What sort of trends are you seeing at the show? Is it the concern of storing 4K files
I think you are right about the 4K files and I think it’s going to hit us in two ways. One is these bigger files, higher bandwidth, and storage requirements. At the same time, the broader adoption of a bunch of new codecs to enable the use of these files, otherwise these files can be too burdensome to infrastructure for various people.

So the trade off to that now is you’ve got HEVC, XAVC, other flavors of compression to try and make the 4K manageable but that brings up a whole wrath of various compatibility issues between NLE systems and various playback systems.

The NAB Show, more than anything, is about product introduction and maybe educating people about the already established trends, for people who maybe feel like they need to catch up on that stuff. It always seems to be about capture and display technology.

How are potential clients – especially ones with mid-range budgets – coming around on the value of investing in a MAM system?
From our standpoint, the big thing is that people are realizing that content has so many different channels for distribution and reuse and repurposing. I think an overriding awareness has emerged about just the importance and the value of content and a lot of companies are even downplaying their investment in staff and hardware for production and staying more focused on the ownership and distribution of content.

Its about doing more digital stuff and understanding the fact that there’s more and more new content being created all of the time and it has to be put into an orderly environment or it is basically in more peril than even video tape is. The longevity of content [is crucial]. Now if they are not careful, it can be more ephemeral than ever. But with tagging and asset management, there are more and more ways to repurpose and look at content.

What were are pushing this year with Engage is a MAM for everybody. The production asset management (PAM) systems are incredible tools for producers and editors, but they are very intimidating for those folks that aren’t at that level of expertise. There are usually peat seat licenses on a LAN that are very accessible to the production part of the organization but not so much so to the social media teams, the webmasters, licensing, legal, PR, and all of those folks who, now more than ever, want to get their hands on content.

One thing about Engage being web-hosted and being a service, not a product that you buy is that users can get that content into it and easily make it available to people that are widely dispersed geographically. They can also be temporary. This exposes your content to a much wider group of users.

What are some of the upgrades that you have made to the Engage platform?
We have a tighter integration with our archive service. We do mass digitization projects. People need to have an archive to keep their content in and it’s a lot more than just adding storage hardware, its having someone to keep on top of obsolescence and freshening the media from time to time; keeping it geographically separated and that sort of thing.

Then we have Engage which is an asset management system that works wherever people’s assets are, but when its used with our archive system it has a tighter integration now that has a great user-interface for doing sub-clips right to the proxy file you’re looking at and then you can order that up as a partial file delivery. The high-res file will get clipped, you get a link, and it shows up as an electronic transmission of just the part that you need. So you could have a very long file, like a whole game, and just order up the few plays that you need.

We have metadata writing services because more and more people have a big log of content and they want more descriptive metadata than they used to have – sometimes they don’t have any at all on legacy content. That can be a difficult thing to put together and force some people to have to view it, write it, and force it into a database. We offer that service and we think it addresses universal issues that everyone is having.