US Open 2018: Wazee Digital, Thumbwar Power Content Management Onsite and Off
Improved connectivity enhances access to central storage, archive for all rightsholders
For four years, Wazee Digital (now a Veritone company following an acquisition in August) has been an important part of content management and digitization at the US Open. And, this year, according to Wazee Digital CTO Greg Loose, operations went very smoothly, thanks to some improvements in connectivity between the international-rights holders, digital teams, sponsors, and the USTA that finally have everyone sitting on the same content-storage system with the same tools.
“The big difference this year was all of the preparation as the change was accelerated this year,” he says. “We built out a solid configuration, and it was the smoothest yet. Everything has gone well.”
Wazee Digital worked closely with Thumbwar to build out an infrastructure comprising four Adobe Premier editors, seven logging systems, EVS IPDirectors, 300 TB of Avid Nexis storage, and two 1-Gbps circuits from CenturyLink that can be used to pump data into Amazon Cloud Services, allowing approved users around the world to access the archive and content.
“It’s a Netflix-style gallery view,” Loose explains. “It has things like a speed preview, so people can see if the content is something they want. Users can also access dropdown menus to quickly find clips related to a player, or they can jump to melts that are already tagged, categorized, and can be filtered.”
Nearline storage is managed through the IPDirectors. This year, the big change was that all of the onsite production teams — digital, social, TV, and others — were no longer siloed with respect to access to storage and content.
“The Digital Media Hub cloud offering transfers content through Aspera to Amazon’s S3 cloud storage, where it is discoverable on the Wazee platform,” says Loose. With three days left in the tournament, the amount of content in the cloud had eclipsed 15,000 pieces and 70 TB of storage. Media, sponsors, and even officiating have access to clips via IPDirector.
The team recorded and logged all the EVS feeds and the world feed, according to Brian Carr, owner/creative director, Thumbwar.
“The loggers are taking in the SMT stats data through the EVS and then watch and tag the matches with stars and look for fan reactions or super-slo-mos,” he says. “People can log into Wazee Digital Core, find the moments they want, and seamlessly download it.”
Sponsor agencies in London or elsewhere, for example, can access clips and begin building marketing materials around play. And, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the editing team would build out highlights, melts, and more, enabling rightsholders to download precut highlight packages complete with voiceovers (the Wazee Digital production area also has a voiceover booth).
“With the US Open 50th anniversary,” adds Carr, “we had a lot of features for the world-feed trucks and requests for older archived content. That material was in the Core, and people could find the moments they wanted and download seamlessly.”
The advances this year were rewarding, Loose says: the Wazee Digital team enhanced not only the technology but also what it was trying to achieve onsite. He credits Patti Fallick, senior director, broadcast operations, USTA, with empowering Wazee Digital to look to the future and enable new workflows that can more easily spread to facilities and personnel that are not located at the US Open.
“You might have something that is shot for one producer, but others might have the rights to it,” he says. “[However,] they physically didn’t have a way to get to it. We enable that access and allow better use of the content.
“The separate production teams still exist,” he continues, “but there are now centralized assets, and that is the dream: to make sure content is available to the people who need it.”
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