SVG Sit-Down: Veritone’s Greg Loose on How the Pandemic Has Altered the Course of M&E Workflows
Remote and cloud-based production has increased, along with demand for streamed content
As the M&E industry says goodbye to 2020 and embarks on a new year, remote/cloud editing and postproduction tools have become a necessity. The shift to remote and cloud-based workflows was already well under way but has been accelerated significantly by the pandemic, and there’s likely no turning back now to on-premises-only production. While the challenges have been exacerbated by the brand-new remote workflows, the demand for content has intensified, with more people streaming live and VOD content than ever.
As the industry heads into 2021 facing these unprecedented challenges, SVG sat down with Greg Loose, head of media and entertainment, Veritone, to discuss the impact the situation has on software development, cloud strategy, and media management. He addresses how the shift to remote/cloud-based systems will impact the industry moving forward, how AI factors into the future of content creation, and how sports-media creators are looking to leverage existing content to satisfy consumer demand with schedules thrown into disarray.What are the latest developments coming out of Veritone these days in terms of software development, cloud strategy, and media management?
Digital Media Hub is Veritone’s cloud-based intelligent asset-management, -distribution, and -monetization platform. We white-label this for customers for a variety of use cases and have recently upgraded Digital Media Hub’s sharing capabilities around collections to make them even more robust, with modern user experience. This allows customers to be more granular and secure in sharing only specific content across a broad spectrum of users — including traditional media, rightsholders, remote editors, and corporate sponsors.
Veritone has also made great strides with our core aiWARE platform, particularly in making it platform-agnostic. This allows us to offer single, tailored solutions to customers, in either their cloud or private datacenter. Our workflow automation tools and professional-services capabilities now enable workflow integrations with leading MAMs [media-asset managers], meaning that our customers can leverage AI by extending their enterprise software investments.
How has the pandemic affected the shift to remote workflows and cloud-based tech? What does it mean for the future of M&E?
The pandemic has accelerated the shift to remote workflows and cloud-based technologies very quickly. In an industry that typically changes gradually, it has been amazing to see the rapid innovations that have taken place over the past few months. During the US Open [tennis tournament], for instance, with the help of our tech partner, THUMBWAR, we planned, designed, and supported an onsite and cloud media network for the tournament, with 50 remote users stretching from Los Angeles to Paris. It was all done in 2½ months, with all design and testing completed virtually over Zoom calls. We could not have done it without [USTA Managing Director, Broadcast] Patti Fallick and the USTA team, who pulled together the right teams to pull this feat off in a very safe manner for those of us onsite.
Digital Media Hub has proved invaluable for these scenarios. Customers use Veritone’s tools to upload from site to the cloud. We apply AI upon media ingestion to make search and discovery possible, without the over-reliance on structured metadata.
Moving forward, there will continue to be fewer people onsite — and likely fewer resources overall — working on productions. Increased monetization opportunities will be necessary to maximize rightsholders’ investments, as well as sports organizations themselves, which are still facing uncertainty around whether fans will be able to attend events in meaningful numbers until late in 2021. Technology companies that offer cloud tools with efficiencies and workflows to support distribution for monetization opportunities will be critical to supporting these organizations’ goals.
Do you see a growing role for AI-based tools and workflows in the M&E industry in the near term? In the long term?
Changes with live sporting events, like delays and cancellations, that cause production schedules to shift have forced a lot of Veritone’s customers to quickly figure out how they can reuse the content they already have on hand.
One studio customer, for instance, is taking their catalog of episodic content and applying AI to uncover iconic moments in their historic footage. Once these moments are identified, a cloud workflow alerts editors of the content, allowing them to conduct a final edit in Adobe Premiere quicker. The resulting content is published on YouTube, ensuring greater monetization and exposure for the content and organization. Previously, this would have not been possible, due to manual processes involving tagging thousands of hours of content and sitting in a facility right next to the content.
How will cloud-based tools/workflows/ecosystems affect the M&E industry in the near and long term?
Disaster recovery and business-continuity plans will need to be accelerated. The smart companies will use this as an opportunity to enable production workflows. For example, the studio that was able to apply AI to uncover critical moments from their archives was able to do so only because they had made the decision to archive their content in the cloud. In this way, they were able to turn a cost center into a monetization and distribution opportunity.
How has the MAM/content-management industry responded to the pandemic-fueled shift to remote workflows? What challenges/opportunities does this create, and what does this shift mean for content creators?
The MAM and content-management industry has reacted very well to the shift to remote workflows. Because the industry typically reacts to changes more gradually, the rapid innovations that have occurred since early 2020 have been truly remarkable to witness.
The biggest challenge for content creators when it comes to content management is the sheer volume of footage accumulated. This will continue to be a challenge as they accumulate more, but the pandemic-fueled shift to remote workflows has certainly aided in this effort. Because AI can be [used] to catalogue and understand the content they have, content creators are able to become even more innovative, leading to even more monetization and distribution opportunities.
With league schedules disrupted by the pandemic, how can leagues, broadcasters, and content creators leverage existing content to satisfy consumer demand?
The pandemic has certainly thrown sports schedules into disarray. At Veritone, we recognized this early on during lockdown, when the lack of live sports was very prevalent. Leading up to the first virtual [NFL] Draft in April, we put together Draftclips.com, a portal where consumers and sports fans alike were able to get their fix of sports with more than 30,000 video clips and hundreds of hours of live footage of top college players and professional prospects. Draftclips.com was made possible through Veritone’s content-licensing partnerships with sports entities, including the NCAA, Pac-12, and Big Ten. We replicated it again ahead of last month’s [NBA] Draft and plan to continue updating it for similar drafts and situations down the line.
This is just one example of how sports leagues, broadcasters, and content creators have leveraged existing content to satisfy consumer demand amid the pandemic. The key lies in knowing what footage you have and leveraging AI to identify highlights and turn them into engaging pieces of content that can be monetized, shared, and consumed by fans during these unusual times for sports.
You believe there will be a shift toward retooling existing content and footage to fit this need in the new year. How can AI take this unstructured data to bring content to the forefront and create new, engaging content?
Being able to surface content that often has never been seen before will be critical in 2021, as the pandemic continues to impact the M&E industry in a big way. AI enables organizations to aggregate and tag content so it can easily be surfaced and leveraged in new pieces of content, whether immediately or months down the line.
For example, during the pandemic, Veritone processes over 1 million images across four categories for an MLB team. By processing these images, we helped the team produce engaging content for their social channels, when they previously did not have much structured metadata. Seeing the additional creativity that we were able to help the team achieve with their social content was powerful and exciting. The sky is truly the limit once you can properly understand all of the content available at your fingertips.
What new opportunities do you foresee for sports-content creators in the future?
Sports-content creators’ using AI to automatically create content is already happening but will definitely continue to accelerate. Other examples of this in action include curated playlists around topics that sports fans enjoy and the synthetic generation of content itself. How content creators quickly repurpose their sports content to fit the varying tastes of consumers and fans will allow them to better experiment, monetize, and gain greater share of advertiser revenues. This is an area Veritone has already begun exploring, and we expect to continue to see acceleration in this area.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.