SAM 2010: Ingest, Logging No Longer a Hard Sell

Initial ingest, logging, and spinning-disk storage technologies are crucial to ensuring that content has a long and useful life within a sports facility. The ways in which those processes are carried out, however, are as different as the content itself. During a panel at SVG’s fourth-annual Sports Asset Management forum, held July 20 at the PGA Tour Entertainment facility, experts from networks, teams, and technology companies discussed some best practices when it comes to ingest and logging — as well as the change in perceived value of doing so.

“We used to handwrite all of this stuff,” said Ken Boudreau, senior director of media assets for ESPN. “We needed to transition to something that was going to serve all six domestic and nine international networks that run out of Bristol, where we have one big newsroom.”

Luckily for Boudreau, he did not have to work very hard to convince upper management that game recording and logging are critical to ESPN’s business. (After all, there’s always another hour of SportsCenter to fill.) Luckily, that trend seems to be growing outside of the company’s Bristol, CT, headquarters: other companies are seeing less resistance to investment in ingest and logging technologies than they once did.

“This was one of the easiest sells for us,” reported Michael Bergeron, senior technical liaison for Panasonic Broadcast. “We’ve had so many situations where we had to explain why a ⅔-in. imager was better, but this was much easier to explain. The idea here was that tapeless is going to allow you to shoot more content but you will have so much content that you won’t be able to find anything. This is how you’re going to find it, and finding it means monetizing it. That they understood.”

The promise of repurposing material also makes for an easy sell.

“If you’re acquiring some sort of actuality-based material, you have a wonderful business proposition, because you’ve got it, you sell it, but you’ve still got it,” explained Ed Casaccia, director of product marketing at Grass Valley. “The whole notion of repurposing things can be looked at as almost free money because you’ve already paid for the material. Metadata tagging is one of a few ways to enhance value.”

Another way to enhance value that broadcasters have already paid for is through closed-captioning.

“We store closed-captioning files and link [them] to the event,” Boudreau said. “That gives us an opportunity of one more avenue where we can search for something. Captioning is not perfect, but it’s another opportunity to look at metadata that you’ve collected and can access.”

Added Michael Dixon, president and founder of Dixon Sports, “You’d be surprised how many people are interested in what you have. Everybody has some reuse for the video because it is going to have all the metadata attached to it.”

The value of metadata is now a given, but where that metadata physically gets attached is a matter very much up for debate.

“If you could do it remotely, that would be a much more efficient use of your workforce,” Casaccia said. “We have one instance where soccer matches in the UK are logged in France and that metadata is written back to the UK. The idea of a metadata call center somewhere is interesting.”

At this point, however, such an idea remains just that.

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