Building a future-proof media house

Article written by
Ole Johan Skogheim

Chief Engineering Officer

Our media reality has changed beyond recognition in just over a decade. Few dare predict where we will be in a another 10 years. So how do you future-proof your media house?

 

When Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in December 2017, it was largely to keep up with competition from the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

 

The future is streaming, and people who are approaching their teens right now cannot remember a time when you did not have everything “on tap” at the touch of a button. Many predict that the death of linear TV is just around the corner.

 

 

Remain flexible whatever you do

 

We’re already in a new media reality which everyone in the business has to relate to. You cannot afford not to plan for the future and you need to be ready to adapt to new technologies, to automate your workflows, and future proof your infrastructure and your system architecture. All of these points are areas of expertise for Mediability’s team of system architects and systems engineers.

 

How can we help you approach the new media reality? The Mediability team can guide you in investing in flexible infrastructure, which can easily be reconfigured in a cost efficient way when the need arises. We work with top vendors in the market, but can also be your independent source of knowledge for making the right choices for your technology needs.

 

We believe strongly that the best way to approach the new media reality is to remain flexible, whatever you do. No matter how cutting edge your media business is right now, it will no doubt have to adapt and change in the face of new demands and realities in the near future.

 

 

Changing to a an IP based infrastructure

 

If you want to secure a dynamic approach to change, you need to become less dependent on legacy SDI infrastructure. An IP-based infrastructure with a distributed topology has a number of advantages.

 

IP allows you to change your infrastructure much faster, simply because you avoid having to rewire the dedicated signal path between boxes that the legacy technology required. Changing the flow or adding a new device is more about configuration than about installation work.

 

But it is equally important to carefully design how you want your operation to work in terms of access, resource sharing and scalability. As system integrators, we see how important for instance it is to abstract the consequences of distance.

 

 

Operating anything from anywhere

 

Using TV 2 Norway as an example, Norway’s largest commercial broadcaster, who has recently moved offices both in Bergen and in Oslo. This gave TV 2 a golden opportunity to reassess how the entire production chain can work to the best advantage of everyone involved.

 

There is no reason why you cannot have a control gallery in one location, controlling hardware and software in a separate location and running any studio remotely. This way you can have a distributed production where the location of people, equipment and facilities are flexible, enabling higher utilisation of resources.

 

 

Sharing resources

 

While remote production is nothing new, the seamless integration you can achieve with the use of the right technology in the right places gives you complete freedom to do what needs to be done no matter where your staff operate from.

 

You find that not only can you have personnel operating equipment in a different location to where they are. You can achieve synergy on the production equipment side as well, and share all your resources – both hardware and software – across sites.

 

 

Top-down distribution of information

 

IP-solutions and equipment is one part of the puzzle, but equally important is how a media house approaches the entire design of their operations. A top-down distribution of information is important.

 

That way as many people as possible can benefit from that information further down the chain. It’s no good for people far down the chain to start correcting a fault or entering metadata in parallel processes, if the error could have been solved or metadata entered up stream and benefit all subsequent paths in the value chain.

 

 

Important for day-to-day production

 

This top-down approach could be useful for day-to-day programme production too.

 

High level planning and strategies, combined with rights data could be used to automate availability of content, publishing and generating relevant tasks and instructions for downstream production.

 

Take promo production for instance. In the scheduling process a predefined promotion strategy is assigned to a program or series. A specific to-do list is automatically generated for the promo department, defining the versions, editorial instructions and target group to be addressed, taking away room for subjective production and overproduction of versions.  Combine his with automated live or just in time rendering of graphics the number of versions are further reduced and the cost savings could be considerable.

 

 

The distant cloud

 

There is much talk about when we will be able to completely free ourselves from internal infrastructure and other physical ‘obstacles’ and move to a cloud-based infrastructure where media houses can produce, access and play out any content.

 

We believe that is still some way off due to requirements for high bitrates and fast turn around, but the technology and innovations in the market are moving fast forward.  The cloud opens up new opportunities for many, but still has its limitations. You look at the size of uncompressed HD or UHD video streams for production, and you realise this will not be in the cloud for some time.

 

Also, many organisations looking forward will understandably reluctant to leap into the cloud with everything they’ve got. It will take time to learn from mistakes, see what works, what doesn’t.

 

 

IP infrastructure a key stepping stone

 

We believes it is very important for any organisation to master their own in-house IP infrastructure before they farm it out to someone else who’d be running it through a cloud-based solution.

 

What is certain is that IP infrastructure is the first and correct step towards a completely cloud-based live production solution.

 

 

Mediability IP infrastructure and cloud expertise

 

In Mediability we have a team of System Architects, System Engineers, as well as Network Engineers; all ready to help you building your next media facility, integrating your workflows and migrating to cloud based solutions and IP infrastructure, amongst other. Contact us today for a discussion about how we can help you.