Footage must be accessible in both its raw and
|Levels Beyond’s Reach Engine
The era of video production in which footage is
shot and edited on tape, then played over the
air or mailed out, is over. In today’s digital world,
producers have to shoot video and then edit it for
distribution on air and online, formatted for an evergrowing
range of platforms.
But that is just the beginning. Video now has
to be made accessible to an organization’s viewers
both in its raw and completed forms, and long-term
access is now a must whether in-house, over the
Web, or both. Therefore, filling a shelf up with tapes
is no longer an acceptable way to archive content.
Video must now be saved in a form that is accessible,
affordable and future-proof.
Digital asset management is the solution to that
problem. DAM is an end-to-end approach to video
production, distribution and storage that can solve
the asset management issues faced by video producers,
both for today and tomorrow, according to
video management specialists.
Levels Beyond, located in Denver, makes the
“Reach Engine.” It is an end-to-end video ecosystem
that covers all aspects of production, workflow,
storage and delivery.
|Crossroads Systems’ StrongBox
“DAM puts all your assets in one place, where
you can do video ingest, editing, formatting, storage
and distribution,” said Art Raymond, Levels
NUTS AND BOLTS
A DAM system integrates video capture, storage,
production, distribution and archiving into a single
platform. That platform typically is both softwareand
server-based. Depending on the vendor and the
DAM product, it can have all of the content ingested
and managed on computers, or have peripheral
tape players and hard disk arrays connected by networks
to create a connected system.
By being network-based, video stored on a DAM
can be made accessible to multiple users, whether
they are editors needing content to cut, or supervisors
just checking in on how a project is going. A
DAM system also provides an effective path to trulyaccessible
video archiving. Using metadata—descriptive
tags identifying time, date, location and other
content-specific information that are associated with
a specific video file—archived content can easily be
found using a browser-based search engine.
As for actual video storage, a small video department can make use of a DAM to manage a series
of redundant hard-disk drives that contain the digitized
content. In larger installations, automated tape
robots running high-capacity linear tape-open (LTO)
data cartridge tapes often are employed in tandem
with hard disks.
|Avid’s Interplay Media Asset Manager
However, keep in mind that the capacity of
LTO tapes can be astounding. For example, a LTOgeneration
5 (LTO-5) tape released in 2012 can hold
1.5 terabytes of data apiece, while an individual
LTO-6 tape (due for release at the end of 2012) is
expected to hold 2.5 terabytes of data.
Nonetheless, while LTO tapes are cheaper than
hard disks, they do not provide immediate access.
That is why sophisticated DAM archives use hard
disks to retain recent data to which an organization
might need to have access immediately. Meanwhile,
older video generally is stored on cheaper LTO tapes
that might be held for historical reasons.
Based in Austin, Texas, Crossroads Systems is
a provider of data archive solutions, including the
“StrongBox,” which is a shared storage solution
built for data archival and preservation. Crossroads
Systems’ solutions incorporate a variety of storage
media, including LTO tape.
“The advantage of LTO tape is that it has better
longevity than spinning disks,” said Robert
Sims, Crossroads’ president and CEO. LTO tape
provides “much larger
capacity and lower price
point, and one can see
why a mixture of disks and
tapes make sense in DAM
|Extensis’ Portfolio Server
The StrongBox uses a
LTO file system technology
and intelligent storage
architecture with standard
file systems, according to
Crossroads. The StrongBox
provides time file availability
data protection, full data
mobility and non-proprietary
THE NEED FOR A PROPERLY
Spectra Logic is a maker of tape- and diskbased
backup, archive and recovery storage
solutions, located in Boulder, Colo. The company
is experienced in assessing each DAM’s best
use of tape and disk, and ensuring that each
DAM meets the needs of its specific client.
Whatever media mix a video department opts
for, “it’s vitally important that the storage utilized in
a DAM environment can not only scale to meet the
needs of a given organization, but can also provide
them with a cost-effective system that they trust to
easily search and deliver their content when needed,”
said Hossein ZiaShakeri, Spectra’s senior vice president.
“When the storage is properly integrated with
the asset management application, customers can
not only track and catalog all of their assets, but also
will be able to retrieve everything in their library at the
click of their mouse, years into the future.”
DAM systems are attractive because the video content
already is digitized, and since the video is in that form,
it can be transcoded easily to serve whatever formats
are popular. For instance, iOS (Apple) and Android
formats are big among smartphone users, while Flash
and H.264.MPEG-4 are popular for Web streaming.
However, some DAM systems are more adaptable
than others, according to Avid. Headquartered
in Burlington, Mass., Avid is one of the world’s leading
providers of video production, editing and storage
software. Avid’s Interplay Media Asset Manager
is marketed as a complete DAM solution.
Because an organization does not know how
big its storage needs may become as duties evolve,
“flexibility” should be the watchword when comparing
DAM products, said James Frantzreb, Avid’s
senior market segment manager for media enterprise.
An organization’s DAM “should be able to
cope with such unknowns,” he added.
A good DAM system can cope with the evolution
in storage media, if it is designed to transfer data
from old to new media on an automated basis. Front
Porch Digital’s SAMMA product is designed to automatically
transfer taped content into digital data storage.
Located in Louisville, Colo., Front Porch Digital
makes content storage management (CSM) and, via
SAMMA, DAM solutions as well.
“You can scale from a single tape player, to multiple
‘tape robots’ transferring 1,000 hours of content a
week,” said Dave Polyard, Front Porch Digital’s SVP of
Strategic Sales. SAMMA is part of the DIVASolutions
DAM package, which comprises ingest to editing,
production, storage and distribution.
Clearly, there are a tremendous number of advantages
to a video operation having a DAM system,
but it is not a product that untrained individuals can
install. In addition, DAM systems are not a one-sizefits-
all solution, and they are not plug-and-play.
The smart strategy is to have vendors review a
video production operation and request solutions
tailored to an organization’s needs.
|Front Porch Digital’s SAMMA
SkyLark Technology makes video media servers,
application tools and signal processors. It is a global
company based in London.
“For a management system, pre-planning is vital,”
said Sid Guel, who oversees U.S. business development
for SkyLark. “Not only
do you need to look at
how things and workflows
are being done
today, you also need
to look ahead into the
future and try your best
to predict the direction of your organization.”
When selecting a DAM solution, Guel recommends
looking for products that offer superior
automation and metadata handling, offer advanced
database search, security, backup capabilities and
use open standard, non-proprietary hardware.
Proprietary systems are difficult to interface with,
he said; and interfaces might incur unwanted additional
costs and efforts.
Extensis, a producer of DAM solutions in Portland,
Ore., offers the Extensis Portfolio Server DAM system,
which is provided to organizations for a free,
30-day “test drive.”
The Extensis Portfolio Server is “a cataloging system
that brings together all of your video assets into
a common platform,” said Edward Smith, Extensis’
product marketing manager. “Extensis can be used
on either Windows or Mac OS platforms, so it is easy
to try on your desktop.”
Onstream Media Corp. offers its service “Streaming
Publisher,” which is a platform designed to make it
easy to upload video and audio content and to have
that content delivered over the Web, said George
Stemper, the company’s
vice president sales and
Mobile devices have
“been taking over the
landscape for content
delivery,” Stemper said.
Streaming Publisher converts
the videos so they
can be delivered over multiple
platforms, he said.
In terms of storage, Streaming Publisher provides
for storage of all types of content with very simple
upload via signal transfer point, or directly thought an
application interface, Stemper said. “Once the content
is stored, it’s a matter of deciding how the content
is to be delivered,” he said. “It can be delivered
as part of a website, whether it’s graphics, images, or
streaming content,” he said. Stemper noted that the
IRS is a client, and the agency is producing a video
portal to deliver their webinars and stream video. So
that will be one of the big applications for this system.
So, whether an organization starts small, or goes
all-in, the fact is that DAM systems make good sense
for video production departments of any size. Because
video content is now being used for promotion, training,
re-purposing and even evidentiary and historical
applications, it is no longer cost-effective to allow
such content to hide anonymously on a shelf.