Sports Asset Management & Storage Forum: MAM Providers Stress Metadata Management

Content may be king, but content would be nothing without the ability to find it. That’s where media-asset–management (MAM) systems step in. At yesterday’s Sports Asset Management Forum, executives from leading MAM providers discussed their latest wares, and, unsurprisingly, the conversation centered largely on how their systems handled that all-important metadata.

“Metadata is king,” said Luc Comeau, senior business development manager, Dalet. “Everything needs to revolve around metadata in order to capitalize on [content] to, in turn, create some workflow orchestration. And, when I talk about orchestration, we’re not just talking about transcoding something; we’re talking about including human processes in there and being able to monitor.”

From left: Dalet's Comeau, Crawford's Davis, and Vizrt's Krishnaswamy are joined on stage by SVG's Ken Kerschbaumer, who moderated the panel.

From left: Dalet’s Comeau, Crawford’s Davis, and Vizrt’s Krishnaswamy are joined on stage by SVG’s Ken Kerschbaumer, who moderated the panel.

Combining automation with traditional human logging enables content owners to create “a relational environment where everything is tied to everything,” said Comeau. For example, by defining Kobe Bryant by his name and vital stats, any search for Kobe Bryant within the MAM will yield these vital stats.

“By having that single entity, have the rich metadata associated to it that doesn’t require someone entering metadata to fill in all these blanks. … It also enables you to do faceted discoveries,” said Comeau. “Defining your metadata schema in those concepts, not just defining a whole bunch of columns in [a spreadsheet] but [using] a ‘tree approach’ to unique entities is going to help you better find your content later on and minimize the data entry at each point when you’re logging, curating, etc.”

This “tree approach” — in other words, having a specific player’s name encompass vital stats rather than sit next to them on a spreadsheet — will help to streamline searches. After all, as with Web searches, more results do not necessarily equal better results.

“I think that, sometimes, there’s a perception that the more the better with metadata, and that’s not necessarily true,” said Steve Davis, EVP/CTO, Crawford Media Services. “You can make searches so that you get too many returns or returns that are [not applicable]. I think the concept of elegance in metadata is very important. There are certain types of metadata that are highly structured by their nature — statistics obviously would be very well-structured — and then there’s a lot of information that’s sort of narrative in nature and is more interpretive and requires … a little bit of human judgment.”

Of course, metadata management isn’t just for those content owners with massive libraries. Even the smallest libraries can benefit from streamlining metadata.

“One of the problems we’ve seen is, it’s a bit of a feast-or-famine situation,” said Arun Krishnaswamy, MAM solution architect, Vizrt. “Sometimes, we go in, and customers have enormous libraries of metadata gathered over decades — some of it structured — and, other times, all we have is a file name and maybe some dates, some timestamps. … Typically, what we try and do is, on our side, provide the infrastructure to enrich metadata as much as possible.”

Last year, Vizrt released Version 5.5 of Viz One, the company’s MAM system that enables content owners to easily find, upload, preview, cut, send, and manage content located in a central repository. At NAB 2014, Vizrt launched integration with Apple Final Cut Pro X.

“Vizrt is a bit of a diverse company,” said Krishnaswamy. “We have lot of things going on on the broadcast-graphics side and the MAM side. There’s a lot of transcoding that happens within these systems, and, therefore, to channel all these efforts to the best possible end, we decided that we would build a framework for transcoding. … What this is going to allow us to do is be more aggressive and timely in terms of adding support for new formats and bitrates and 4K and beyond.”

Unlike traditional MAM systems, Crawford’s enterprise MAM system is Web-based, enabling content owners to search, organize, and efficiently manage their entire digital archive from anywhere (with an Internet connection) without building out their infrastructure. This system, said Davis, potentially opens the MAM system to users who may not have made use of it before.

“Most of the asset management I’ve heard spoken about at this conference and recently in the industry is really centered on production workflows,” said Davis. “Those professional, powerful interfaces are somewhat intimidating to generic users, and so there are many people across the enterprise that need easy access to something they can be productive on without being an expert on production workflows.”

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