NAB 2019 Reflections: On Primestream’s 20th Anniversary, Robert Lisman Details Revamped Brand, Renewed Vision
Product portfolio focuses on four key markets: enterprise, digital media, sports, and broadcast
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Primestream at NAB 2019 unveiled a new vision for the company, including a redesigned logo and reorganization of its product portfolio. Primestream has combined all its technologies into a single, overarching toolset to enable flexible workflows for four key markets: enterprise, digital media, sports, and broadcast.
Also on display at NAB 2019 were new AI-based tools to enrich media assets inside Primestream media-asset management (MAM), extended integrations with Adobe Creative Cloud and Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, the latest beta of Primestream’s Review Hub web-based feedback/collaboration tool, and the introduction of Media I/O, a new easy-to-use desktop application that facilitates management of both IP and SDI streams through a single platform. Primestream also showcased how the new Media I/O platform integrates with bonded cellular to allow mobile IP video transmission from almost anywhere.
SVG sat down with Primestream Director, Marketing, Robert Lisman to discuss the thinking behind the company’s revamped vision, how he believes the company will better serve the sports-production market as a result, and where he sees the business headed in the coming years.
Tell us a bit about the rebranding and reorganization Primestream is undertaking as part of the company’s 20th anniversary.
For our 20th anniversary, we took the opportunity to rethink our identity and our vision. The world is changing, our customers are changing, technology is changing, and so are we. We came up with a new vision that takes all the experience we have in each market and comes up with more market-focused solutions. We identified four markets to target: sports, enterprise, digital media, and broadcast. We want to take the common denominators of the different challenges in each market and come up with solutions geared specifically to customers in each market. So we are [adopting a] more market-focused approach to our solutions and moving away from products as the center focus. We want to solve problems with our solutions; that’s really our core expertise.
With that comes a new logo, new product branding, and a new identity. In the past, we have had two [major platforms]: FORK and Xchange. We’re doing away with those [brands], and the branding is now unified under Primestream and focuses on four solutions: Capture, Produce, Manage, and Deliver. We’re not referring to our products by obscure names anymore; we’re naming them after exactly what they do. At the end of the day, customers are coming with problems, so they don’t care what the product names are as long as they solve those problems.
We are bringing a fresh look not only to the company but also to the software. We redesigned almost all of it from front to the back. We have a new 64-bit architecture that is enabling more streams to be captured, faster rendering, extensive performance improvements, and enhanced reliability. The new architecture is providing the application previously known as FORK with the ability to capture more streams, as well as render, transcode, and encode significantly faster. And then, on the frontend, we’ve unified everything in the user interface with the new look and feel. We made it easier to use.
Tell us a bit about the new Media I/O bonded-cellular integration your unveiling here for remote IP video transmission.
Media IO is our first standalone application, and [users] can simply download it, install it themselves, and get going with what they need to do. You can capture any web or SDI stream, and you can capture it into different formats. Using the Relay feature, you can bring in an NDI stream and go out HLS or bring HLS in and send NDI out, without capturing anything locally. It’s a very easy, prosumer-like application that we hope to have on the Apple App Store.
The goal is to make it easier to create live. For example, if you have a file-based workflow but want to start dabbling in some live [content creation], it’s a very easy transition to just install this application and start capturing all that content. Then, when you grow out of it and need to incorporate this into our larger workflow, we have Media IO Server, which is the next tier up when you want to integrate within a larger environment.
Can you also detail some of the new integrations with Final Cut Pro X and Premier Pro?
We’ve been working with Apple for more than a decade, and they have allowed us to be one of just a handful of companies building tools inside Final Cut Pro X. Apple now is creating what they call their workflow extensions, which allow users to stay inside the Final Cut Pro creative tool. They have access to all the media; they could start editing. Media IO will work within that environment, so you can capture content and then put it into Final Cut in a growing timeline. We see this as a perfect workflow for things like quick-turnaround highlights.
And then, with Adobe, we’ve expanded into Photoshop and After Effects, so now we’re connecting graphic teams and visual-effects teams into the larger workflow. We’ve had a lot of demand from customers that need to have their graphics team feed the visual-effects team titles, lower thirds, and other elements. So now, with access to the media-asset–management database, the Photoshop teams can collaborate with all the other teams in a more holistic workflow.
AI is once again one of the hottest topics at the NAB Show. How is Primestream leveraging AI engines to enhance its products for users?
Our approach to AI is to integrate with the leaders in the industry, like Microsoft and Google, who are already doing some amazing things. We want to provide our customers with access to that, so our latest APIs in the MAM have integrated with those major AI platforms to allow for speech-to-text, facial recognition, sentiment analysis, and all kinds of things.
We also want to give [our customers] a visual way to look at data and be able to integrate it with Review Hub, which is our review and approval platform.
You could send an entire sporting event to Microsoft Video Indexer, and, when it comes back into our new enhanced data viewer, it creates a timeline of transcription, of faces, and of sentiment. That way, you can see correlations: if a player scored a touchdown and was mentioned at that point in a comment from Review Hub, the system will tell you to use that highlight clip. It’s creating this one view for you to see all of your AI data, all the comments that are coming in from ReviewHub, so that you can find moments very quickly.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.