NAB Reflections: Primestream’s David Schleifer on Latest FORK and Xchange, VR/360-Asset Management
The company is focused on improving the user experience and data access
At NAB 2017, Primestream showcased the next generation of its Dynamic Media Management platform, including new versions of its FORK (V 5.5) and Xchange Suites. Among the enhancements are an improved user experience, as well as new 4K UHD workflows, VR/360-asset management, web-based metadata tagging, an updated Adobe Premiere Pro extension panel with project-centric workflows, and archival workflows for storing and restoring media from Amazon and SwiftStack object-based storage.
SVG sat down with Primestream COO David Schleifer to discuss the new versions of FORK and Xchange, the importance of third-party integrations, how the potential rise of 4K and VR/360 will impact asset management, and the company’s new cloud-based managed-services offering in conjunction with Tata Communications.
You’re rolling out the latest version of your Dynamic Media Management system here. What are its new features?
From an overall message point of view, I think we’re focused on “Simply Powerful.” For us, that [phrase] means making the power of our technology and the technology that we integrate with more accessible to our users. We felt we had a lot of power in the system that we were not making easily accessible. So we are focused on putting the power of the system right in front of the user and making it easier for them to access. With that in mind, we’ve taken a few approaches to improve the Dynamic Media Management platform.
First is to integrate with more third parties across the board and to tease more functionality up to the surface. Third-party integration is really important for us here at the show — whether it’s Aspera or Cloudian or IBM or File Catalyst [or others].
Second is to tackle some of the buzzwords that we hear in the industry, like 4K and 360 content, and add capabilities for those.
And, finally, we have added features at the request of our users, like the ability to work on projects in Xchange, which allows projects to flow through the whole system, or Workspaces in Xchange, which allows our customers to set up their own environments. Another critical component is the user experience, which we’ve focused on improving.
We’ve tried to move Dynamic Media Management forward, in all of those areas at once, and that gives us a very strong fundamental release, all focused on making it easier for people to get more out of the system.
How far along is the industry in the HD-to-4K transition, and have you seen genuine demand for 4K tools from customers over the past year?
I think we’re right at that transition point where people are making sure that they are future-proofed but now [are] starting to actually talk about implementation. And, certainly, we did a survey with some online users, nothing hugely scientific, but we gave them just a couple of questions and asked them to give us what was high on their priority list. 4K was at the top of the list.
4K opens up a whole set of different issues for our customers, along with HDR and wide gamut, as they begin to create UHD content. So we’ll take that task on and do the heavy lifting, but we just needed to know that our customers starting to talk about 4K in a real way.
What about virtual reality and 360 video? Have you seen customer interest on that front?
We have customers shooting 360 right now. Yahoo, Vice, and others have begun to take it on. We already need to be able to support 360 today, so that, when it becomes something that everyone needs to incorporate into their workflow, we’ll be ready.
Right now with VR, there is a little bit of a sense of “let’s do it live and then we’ll figure out what to do with [that content] later on.” When they are ready to [manage] that content, we’ve got the asset management that will sit on top of those 360 files. We also have relationships with Nokia for their [VR] camera formats, as well as other [VR vendors]. We’ve got a 360 camera here at NAB streaming web video into our system.
We understand the people are experimenting right now, but we’re trying to help them understand what the requirements are going to be once [VR] becomes real. We can deal with 360 content just like any other file: we can move it through the system, we can find it, we can add metadata to it, we can return it to you, we can move it to the cloud or object storage and pull it back — all of those things. I think that promise is a very powerful one to our customers and prospects who are looking at an unknown in the future. They can have that comfort of knowing they at least have their existing workflows in place.
Are you seeing any specific trends in the sports-production sector or popular requests from sports customers?
I think metadata and logging continues to be important to everyone. That’s why we are focusing on integrating with third-party systems to bring in metadata. Sports has a unique cycle, where we are looking for those shots that help you tell the story now but you also might not [realize] what you need until after the season is over. That changes your metadata requirements, so we are focused on serving that need.
The flexible workspaces we have on the Xchange side allow us to go in after the fact. Our logging tools have been very focused on watching multiple games and logging them [in real time] so that metadata can help people turn clips around immediately. A lot of what we’ve done on the Xchange side is focused on after the fact. If you want to add a lot more information around the clips or around the game in general, we give you that ability.
We have some managed services [and] cloud-based stuff that we’re starting to roll out as well. I think it’s very easy to make a big announcement around the cloud, but let me just put it this way: if customers have that requirement, they should talk to us. Because there are some subtleties around the cloud and we are not doing customers a service by just saying ‘we’re in the cloud.’
We’ve actually been in the cloud for several years with our Microsoft Azure implementation But we’ve now got an implementation around managed services that is a bit more sophisticated in partnership with Tata Communications, who we’ve been working with at Vice. We’re starting to roll that out a bit more broadly.