LAS VEGAS — Members of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) brought a variety of new offerings to the annual NAB Show, covering machine learning, cloud services, and more.
Here’s a look at what 24i Media, Amazon Web Services (AWS)/AWS Elemental, Caringo, FilmTrack and IBM Aspera had to share.
24i Media has seen an even larger amount of foot traffic at its NAB booth this time than it had expected as the Amsterdam-based company continues to expand its North American and overall global presence, according to Chief Markets Officer Brynhild Vinskei. Traffic was about double what the company saw last year, she said.
“We’re really focusing on the North American market” and 24i is “growing fast with new customers,” she said, noting there are “a lot of customers that we haven’t announced yet,” but will be announced “shortly.” Those new customers will give 24i an “even stronger footprint in this region,” she said, stressing the importance of exhibiting at NAB to her company.
“This is the strongest presence that we’ve ever had” at NAB – in terms of the size of its booth and the increased number of meetings it’s had at the show, she told MESA. Its presence will be even “stronger next year,” including a booth twice the size as this year’s exhibit space, she said, noting this is the fourth time exhibiting at NAB for 24i, which has offices in Los Angeles and New York.
The company’s U.S. broadcasting clients currently include the Sinclair Broadcast Group, she noted. Just ahead of the show, 24i Media announced that its SmartTemplate solution and proprietary App Core technology platform were being used to power Sinclair’s new Tennis Channel app, enabling smooth customization and repurposing of the user interface, making it easy for Tennis Channel to offer its app across multiple connected devices.
24i Media also recently acquired Vigour, a technology company that helps media companies create video interfaces, Vinskei also pointed out. With the purchase, 24i Media gained control of a “very complementary technology,” she said. The company will be announcing the acquisition of another company – a European one – in three weeks, that will add “a lot of development resources” and new customers, as well as boost its headcount from about 70 employees to about 120, she told MESA.
The company has been demonstrating its feature-rich set of TV applications for multiple devices at this year’s show.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)/AWS Elemental
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been demonstrating new video processing and delivery technologies at the 2018 NAB Show – both at its booth, as well as at several partners’ booths.
The latest AWS innovations are intended to provide media and entertainment companies, enterprises, start-ups and government agencies the ability to “deliver video faster and more efficiently, build intelligent video applications enhanced by machine learning, and extend the reach of their video content,” it said.
There were demonstrations at the show of new AWS solutions designed to advance the quality of streaming video, while at the same time reduce the network bandwidth and storage capacity required to deliver outstanding viewing experiences. Standout demonstrations included Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate Control (QVBR) control, a new video compression technique that AWS said “automatically adjusts to the complexity of source content, maintaining high-quality video while reducing storage and distribution costs.”
In a demo at the AWS booth, an AWS Elemental Live encoder processed HD inputs for live streaming while adapting in real time to meet user-specified requirements for video quality.
With QVBR, “on a frame-by-frame basis, we analyze the video and determine how many bits need to be devoted to getting the quality that you specified you want to hit for [a] frame of video, and we do that across the entire video,” Aslam Khader, AWS Elemental chief product officer, explained to MESA at the show. When applying QVBR, an organization can typically save 20-40% in costs “that just go to the bottom line right away” because it’s not wasting bits being delivered to viewers as is typically the case when using a constant bit rate, he said.
For AWS, the most significant industry trends are “around the movement of workflows into the cloud,” he said, telling MESA: “We see that as a very significant pull that’s happening, where organizations are looking at how they’re doing business today and realizing that they’re putting a lot of effort into undifferentiated heavy lifting – doing things that don’t differentiate their organization, but they have to do because they think they have to do [them], like buying compute capacity, racking and stacking servers, buying software, operating a whole ecosystem of solutions.”
Organizations are increasingly realizing “a lot of that capability is being made available as managed services in the cloud, so that these organizations can focus on innovation, on the ability to scale fast or fail fast” when trying new things, so they “aren’t spending millions of dollars and months and months of effort,” he said. They instead can just “spend a couple of weeks” and perform a “quick analysis and move on – and, if it’s successful, you’re able to scale it fast,” he said.
What’s important today is that we’re dealing with “a global market – content is global and distribution is global, so we are seeing that as being really important in … how these new businesses are constructing their offerings and how they’re differentiating themselves,” he went on to say. That’s why AWS has “put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that we can provide high-caliber, professional-quality managed services for our customers, so that they can migrate to the cloud the workflows that they believe are ready for that purpose,” he said.
At the NAB Show, Caringo has been focused on workflow integration and optimization, specifically with asset managers, storage managers and media-moving solutions from CatDV, FileCatalyst, Levels Beyond, Marquis Broadcast, Pixit and other companies.
Caringo has been demonstrating how media and entertainment organizations “can leverage object storage to get all the benefits of cloud storage without sending data to a cloud,” Adrian Herrera, marketing VP, said ahead of the show. “This enables you to optimize media storage, access and protection for post-production, delivery and archive workflows,” he said.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from the major studios, from the larger production houses,” he told MESA at the show. “It seems like a production house with about 20 employees – that’s really where we start to see the need for some form of active archive solution,” he said, adding: “If there’s one thing that we hear over and over again, it’s people are still – especially in the post-production world – hesitant to send content to the cloud.” That’s a “valid concern,” and if an organization has that concern, “they can use a solution like ours” instead.
Discussing the “unique values” that Caringo brings to customers, he said: “It’s not just about economical scale and being able to store hundreds of petabytes within your own data center. It’s also about the security that we bring. We find that, especially on the post-production side, and also the major studios, they’re all concerned about ransomware events and hacks.” Caringo’s “black box approach” to storage “does not make us susceptible to some of these file system exploits,” which make up the vast majority of such events, he said.
Caringo has been providing multiple opportunities at the show for customers and partners to experience “hassle-free storage administration, expansion, and security for rapidly scaling media libraries” at the show, it said.
Demonstrations have been provided at Caringo’s booth of the company’s integration with leading asset managers. Caringo storage experts have been showcasing how the company’s Swarm hassle-free object-based storage can be readily implemented as a target with widely used asset managers including Pixit Media, CatDV and ReachEngine, Caringo said.
Just ahead of the show, Caringo announced a technology partnership with Pixit, certifying Caringo Swarm with the Pixit Media suite. The combined software-defined approach pairs Pixit’s PixStor and PixStor Ngenea Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) solutions with the Caringo Swarm scale-out object storage platform, “delivering performance, protection and access for every stage of the content workflow from creation to delivery and archive,” Caringo said in its announcement.
The focus for FilmTrack at this year’s NAB Show has been MyFilmTrack and InstAvails, new features of the company’s cloud-based rights management platform that are part of what Michael McGuire, the company’s chief revenue officer, called the largest revision to the platform in the company’s 20-year history.
MyFilmTrack allows users to “create highly configurable widget-based dashboards that are personalized for each user,” he said. As a result, there’ll be “no more searching through multiple screens or reports for the information you need,” he explained ahead of the show.
MyFilmTrack “gives you the dashboard that you want to work from on a daily basis, so you no longer have to navigate through the robust complexities that are available to you within the platform,” he explained to MESA at the show. “It’s become very simplified, so you get all of the functional capabilities that we’ve become known for, but in a really simplified user interface [UI] that’s built for each individual,” he said, adding: “It can be customized, moved around, redone on a daily, weekly, monthly basis by the end user, so it’s the most efficient way for them to access the platform and it’s very intuitive.”
InstAvails, meanwhile, enables an organization’s teams to quickly and easily access data for better decision-making while streamlining the contract initiation process, he said. With InstAvails, the user can see, “in real time,” exactly what content is available to sell at any given point in time, to make sure new revenue opportunities aren’t misses, he said.
There will be a website “refresh” on the company’s home page within a week after NAB to promote MyFilmTrack and InstAvails, he went on to say.
The web-based portal for MyFilmTrack is ready and “good to go” now, but “what we’re trying to decide is the right way to roll it out because that attaches to every screen within the entire platform, so you have to be pretty programmatic in how you introduce user interfaces to existing customers because they’re already used to a UI,” he said, adding that, “probably in the next release cycle, we’ll let it out.” InstAvails, meanwhile, is “in alpha right now, so we’ll roll it to beta with some select customers within the next three to six months and, by year-end, we’ll have it in” general availability, he said.
The two new offerings are “kind of the lead of the spear for where we’re headed this year, and you’ll see a lot of user interface enhancements” from FilmTrack that make its platform more “user-friendly,” Sam Straub, SVP of product management, told MESA.
One major industry trend FilmTrack is seeing now is that “the proliferation” of video on demand (VOD) platforms – “particularly” subscription VOD (SVOD) and transactional VOD (TVOD) – are “creating a lot of complexities in the industry that are bringing even the biggest players to their knees right now, in terms of how they can handle these contractual obligations and manage the just massive amounts of content that are being created,” McGuire also told MESA at the show.
So, they’re all looking for “help in managing these problems, whereas traditionally they had built their own platforms to handle this,” he said.
“The other big trend that we’re seeing is” the large number of mergers and acquisitions in the media and entertainment industry, which are “creating opportunities, but also challenges,” he said. The merged companies, after all, typically have “several different silos of contracts, of content that can be made available, of things that can be monetized, and there’s no way for them to look across all of those different silos and understand what can be sold, who it can be sold to, who they have current contracts in place with – and so they really need to look for a unified platform to handle that,” he said, adding: “Hopefully, that’s FilmTrack.”
The big news from IBM Aspera at this year’s NAB Show has been its introduction of IBM Aspera on Cloud, a new hosted service that provides the fastest way to transfer, exchange and deliver content from any location to anywhere with anyone.
But the company has also again focused on its FASPStream streaming for video service at the show, Todd Kelly, product marketing manager, told MESA at NAB. There’s two “primary workflows” for the upcoming Fox Sports broadcasting of the World Cup in Moscow that Aspera “will be involved in,” he noted. One is “simply taking the streams from the different venues and streaming them over into the AWS Cloud for archival – so, pretty simple, from Russia to the AWS Cloud,” he said.
The second is “taking all the different streams from the different matches and streaming them from Russia over to the L.A. central production site,” allowing broadcasters to “minimize the amount of production equipment they have on-site at the venues and leverage what they have in the central production facility, he said, pointing out that provides cost savings.
Demonstrations at the IBM Aspera NAB booth this time include Stream Manager, “the main component that’s new” with the company’s video streaming offering, he said, noting it’s included as part of its streaming for video product. Stream Manager enables users, via an application, to more quickly and easily set up an environment for streaming from multiple devices, he said.
While media organizations are increasingly adopting a hybrid-cloud workflow that uses a combination of public cloud, private cloud and on-premises storage and compute resources, moving content has become far more challenging, the company said in announcing IBM Aspera on Cloud.
Files that need to be exchanged are often stored in multiple clouds and on-premises systems, it noted, adding traditional transfer technologies bridging these environments are slow and unreliable, and physical disk shipments between them are time consuming and expose data to unnecessary security risks. IBM Aspera on Cloud overcomes the file transfer challenges of the hybrid cloud by enabling media companies to securely and reliably move their content across on-premises and multi-cloud environments at unrivaled speed.
Another key component of IBM Aspera’s booth this year is again the presence of its partners, Kelly pointed out. Eight partners were featured at the booth in all this time, including MESA member Fortium, he said.