Soup-to-Nuts Software for a New Generation of Media Business

In the era of anytime, anywhere, any device services, media complexity has dramatically increased. Media companies must be sufficiently agile to quickly supply their content to a range of consumer devices—including OTA, tablets, smartphones, web sites and new trends yet defined.

With content management, scheduling, rights issues, billing and technical conversion for distribution to various formats, the task can become so complex it overwhelms a traditional staff. This is why a new generation of automated business management processes for modern media companies is quickly emerging.

Because media business systems are so complex and sweeping in functionality, most are created in software modules to breakdown each process in the operational workflow. Entire systems or certain modules can be purchased separately as needed.

Users can also mix and match technology from different vendors. Some vendors in the market are racing to make all the pieces of media systems, while others are seeking to take their market specialty and make it adaptable to larger systems.

Imagine Communications, one company in the race to develop a complete cloud-based business system, sees its technology as a game changer that will transform the media industry. 

At this year's NAB, Imagine Communications introduced dynamic ad insertion, which allows media companies to authenticate across different platforms simultaneously and customize advertising to individual users.

At this year's NAB, Imagine Communications introduced dynamic ad insertion, which allows media companies to authenticate across different platforms simultaneously and customize advertising to individual users.

Imagine’s clients can use the business system in a multitude of ways. It can be used for streaming channels where companies can transcode content on-the-fly and verify ads. It allows the delivery of content to everyone, anyplace, all the time with a blend between subscription and advertising.

Arvato Systems, a subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, is a business services software company whose broadcast division grew out of the RTL Group, one of the largest broadcasters in Europe. Today, the company is a market leader for media business software systems in Europe and Canada and is now targeting media companies in the United States.

Arvato’s software modules — about a dozen in all — cover every conceivable process from commercial airtimes sales, media asset management, program planning, rights licensing, media analysis or production planning. For production, they offer collaborative editing capabilities and direct integration to a wide range of third party components.

Christian Schneider, VP of arvato’s corporate sales, says a key to his company’s success is that all of its software is designed to service media across platforms including television, the web, mobile.

Christian Schneider, VP of arvato’s corporate sales, says a key to his company’s success is that all of its software is designed to service media across platforms including television, the web, mobile.

“We combine the linear world with the non-linear world,” he said. “We are not just looking at television broadcasting, but end-to-end workflows servicing the value chain across all devices.”

Another major benefit of arvato’s technology, Schneider said, is the open architecture, making it easy to integrate with existing workflows. “None of our products are closed. All our modules have open APIs that can easily be connected to other systems. Along with that is the level of integration where we can integrate workflows across the entire organization.”

Though arvato’s software is designed to provide out-of-the-box solutions for media companies, it also allows a customized approach for individual organizations with unique methods. “We don’t dictate that the client work in a different way than they currently use,” he said. “So we come in with a bunch of ready-to-use functions that work immediately, but we can easily customize the software to fit individual needs. Our system is very agile.”

The EVS Ingest Funnel is a portal interface that transforms, legalizes and masters all ingest formats and content towards ready-to-air, archival and post-production formats.

The EVS Ingest Funnel is a portal interface that transforms, legalizes and masters all ingest formats and content towards ready-to-air, archival and post-production formats.

EVS is a good example of a company offering connectivity of its products to a major business management system like the one from Arvato.

EVS’s product ingests formats including files (MP4, MXF, AS-11, IMF, etc.), ENG sources, video feeds, tapes and IP streams from various sources. A built-in workflow management system analyzes and transforms the content, changing its format as required to meet specific customer specifications.

It can then perform quality control functions and legalize content — all controlled through workflow automation. At the conclusion of the funnel, content can be delivered to any shared storage or MAM solution.

EVS uses Business Process Management (BPM) practices for file processing and standardized notation via an intuitive graphical workflow designer. The system’s distributed service-oriented architecture (SOA) allows services to be added or deleted for a scalable solution that can be duplicated at multiple locations.

Workflows range from ENG ingest directly to Avid Interplay and Adobe Premier Pro CC for post production, mastering for ready-to-air, legalization, ingest to MAM, archiving and extensive BPM capabilities. 

James Stellpflug, VP of EVS product marketing said Ingest Funnel has all “the hooks” to integrate with other systems. “That’s actually the core design of it,” he said.

James Stellpflug, VP of EVS product marketing said Ingest Funnel has all “the hooks” to integrate with other systems. “That’s actually the core design of it,” he said.

“We want to get away from a proprietary approach and it’s based on using BPMN 2.0 so it can talk in the same methodology as other systems. It is designed to empower using EVS plug-in components or third party components to execute those transactions.”

Though clients are currently using modules from Arvato, Schneider said software development at his company never ends. It is a continuing project, he said, that evolves as the media being handled continues to endlessly change.

“All of our components are up and running at client sites,” he said. “But some products are more mature than others. A product like our cross media module, for example, is still under heavy development because it is brand new and there is no other tool like it on the market these days. So we continue to development it and will into the future.”

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