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NAB Perspectives: Levels Beyond’s King and Lamy on Solving the ‘Fun Problems’ of Sports Content Creators Through Reach Engine

April 15th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Karen Hogan

How do you demonstrate a content management system like Reach Engine? Simple. Invite customers like Sundance, The Mill, and Axispoint to demonstrate it for you, and describe how they use the platform every day to manage and share content and streamline video workflows. And show off technologies that are already on the market and available for immediate implementation.

SVG sat down with Levels Beyond’s COO Christy King and EVP, Customer Success Dave Lamy to discuss the technologies on display — including a new HTML 5 interface, Adobe toolset integration, and desktop app – and why working with sports clients is so gratifying.

What’s new and exciting at Levels Beyond?
Christy King: We’ve been having a great time this year because we, as the executive team, all sat down together and decided all we’re going to show at NAB is stuff that actually works. We got done with [the technology at the booth] about a week before NAB, we did training all week, and it’s been really fun for us – all these demo stations in here are showing an active, released version of all of our Reach Engine software… This is literally what is released and is out on the market as of last week, so it’s been really fun for us to do that.

Levels Beyond's Dave Lamy and Christy King

Levels Beyond’s Dave Lamy and Christy King

The other thing that we’ve been doing that’s pretty new for us is we have built APIs connected into all of our core software. This year in this main stage [area], we’ve been having our third party partner developers and our customers that have built software customizations on top of our software come in [and show] what they’ve built and what they’re doing with it. This is the first year we’ve had enough APIs out there that people can really interact with them and start building with them.

Dave Lamy: This is our third NAB, post investment, and just to see the maturity of this company is really cool. Seeing our ecosystem developing with our partners starting to write their own apps and tools on top of the platform is super exciting. The other big thing for me, personally, is we’ve always had a great technology but it’s one of those very flexible technologies that can be hard to communicate, especially at a show like NAB. Now we have an app toolset that, I think, allows us to tell a really great story visually and people get it. And so while we’ve had great success as we’ve gone down the road with customers and they start to really comprehend what’s possible with Reach Engine, now we have the ability to communicate it in about 15 minutes and it has resonated super well.

What exactly do you have that’s new at the booth this year?
DL: We are showing our HTML 5 interface and that’s been built ground up — fully tablet compatible — and definitely represents our future design direction of all things.

The second thing is that we’ve been doing a number of enhancements to our Adobe toolset integrations — that includes both Prelude for ingest and logging as well as Premier for edits. And not only have we integrated Premier into Reach Engine studio, which is our backend application that allows you to browse for content and pull things into your projects, but we’ve also integrated with our cloud service, specifically review and approve. It gives you the ability to connect sports sequences that you’re working on directly into our cloud review and approve app and, as comments are gathered in that app, we’ll actually bring all that back and lay them out as markers on the timeline in Premier so that editors get instant feedback without ever leaving their tool.

The last thing we’ve done is created a desktop app that runs on both OSX and Windows that gives you the ability for things that don’t have direct integrations. You can still basically use Reach Engine to search for content and drag and drop it directly into any tool that can accept a file-path drag-and-drop gesture. The beauty of that is that our user community now really never has to touch files. At our demo this week, the only time we touch a file is at the very beginning when we’re ingesting the files, and that point forward, every user who’s using the system never has to go through a file system, never has to navigate through some crazy complex hierarchy. By using metadata and keywords and search to find the content they want, they can leverage that in any application, Adobe or otherwise.

And how are you finding that sports customers, particularly in the broadcast and production realms, are using Reach Engine?
CK: Sports is an interesting and sort of tough because every single sport does their thing in a pretty different way. The fun part about it is almost all of them started early in this process — they’ve been through at least one if not a couple ‘home-grown’ systems and now that makes them a more sophisticated observer of tools and toolsets and what’s possible. In a lot of ways, sports customers are almost more fun to talk to and more fun to sell to than everybody else. The sophistication level and understanding of what should be possible is there, so they come at us with some really interesting questions, challenges, and workflow issues. The other parts of the industry are more singular in what they need to do, whereas sports is trying to serve all mediums and all different devices.

They’ve got people spread all over the place, in remote locations, trying to do ten things at once, so the thing that I think when sports customers come and look at Reach Engine, what they walk away with is the fact that — in my way of describing it — we’re sort of this agnostic brain that lays on top of whatever existing legacy stuff they already have, from transcoding to storage to SANs to delivery. They’ve all got pockets and pieces and parts from preexisting attempts at a real asset delivery system and so we come in and lay this really sophisticated toolset on top of [what] they already have. And then they pull those things out as they age and as they try the next experiment [but] they don’t have to change the brain.

DL: Sports is such a gratifying industry to work with, not only because of how compelling and challenging their content and workflows are, but they have fun problems and they’re so interested and willing to be intellectually curious with us, [saying] ‘I have this problem and it’s a big problem and we’re just trying to figure out how to solve it.’ And we love these types of situations. Our software’s really cool but I think what makes Levels Beyond such a compelling company is that we are so intellectually curious as well and we’re so excited and motivated to try to solve these issues.

I think that we have a number of avenues where we can really come in and really make differences for these guys all the way through that lifecycle that never really ends. Pulling up a great shot at The Masters from 50 years ago is still compelling content [today], and so I think the way that we’re able to help address the various workflow challenges they have across the entire live capture all the way to archive and reuse gives us a really nice niche to work in.