Today broadcasters are challenged more than ever before when it comes to handling file-based content. They are faced with dispensing it to various distribution formats such as on-demand, online and for purchase on iTunes, all with less staff. This makes it difficult when trying to ensure that content is consistent with the appropriate file format and to identify problems when they arise.
The current solution that many broadcast outlets employ involves different hardware and software pieces linked together as needed with each working independently of one another instead of as one cohesive unit. This setup makes it hard to troubleshoot when issues arise because it is hard to identify where in the chain the problem started. It also affects the processing power of the server farm because multiple software programs are competing for the processing power of the workflow's servers, which slows down process of each.
Integrated new media automation
RadiantGrid has developed an integrated new media automation platform that will take a file through all the processing required from when it leaves the nonlinear editor (NLE) up to the broadcast trafficking system. This latest version of the RadiantGrid Platform offers quality control modules, as well as video processing by Cinnafilm and audio processing by Linear Acoustic, which are integrated into the platform and controlled from one central GUI.
Incorporating multiple processes under one platform interface helps eliminate inefficient workflow and automate the process. Because multiple processes are handled concurrently and the GUI visually illustrates what stage of the workflow a file is in, less staff involvement is required.
Integrated quality control
At ingest, files are arranged into a form that is optimal for the transcoding stage. Files are broken down or demuxed into essence formats. Mezzanine streams are created from the source media, which are optimal for transcoding. Prior to being transcoded into the desired formats, the platform's quality control module checks the file for A/V issues before moving it on to the transcoding queue. If there is a problem with the file, it is quarantined for user interaction. This helps to further automate the process in that those files with issues are placed aside, allowing the rest to pass through the queue. Quarantining questionable files allows users to prioritize those files for manual processing.
Because Cinnafilm and Linear Acoustic are part of the process, audio and video processing are now integrated into the platform. If there is a problem (for example, with the frame rate or audio levels), it can immediately be rectified without having to take the file out of the workflow. A similar quality control and quarantine process is performed post transcode to ensure issues did not arise during the transcoding process.
Optimized resource management
The RadiantGrid solution is able to provide faster processing because it uses its server farm. It allows users to customize how many servers are being used for preparation processing (quality control, audio and video processing), transcoding and metadata indexing.
In a typical workflow, there are usually more files coming in than need to be transcoded at one time. Broadcasters could, for example, designate five of their nine servers to handle all quality control and preparation processing while the rest would handle transcoding. The server sees these processes as separate queues and handles them independently so neither process is slowed down.
Integrated video and audio processing
Some users may want to continue using A/V processing offered by other vendors. RadiantGrid has been working with several manufacturers to integrate their processing into its platform. Cinnafilm's Dark Energy can perform grain and noise management, pulldown removal and frame rate conversion. The Linear Acoustic solution lets users correct for loudness, upmix and downmix audio files, and transcode to a variety of file formats. This helps broadcasters maintain proper audio levels and visual elements without having to move a file in and out of different software programs.
As content volumes grow larger, old-fashioned architectures can no longer efficiently manage the workload. Yesterday's solutions require more staff involvement, which increases both delay and cost. The RadiantGrid solution integrates file processing into an efficient and automated workflow, which increases throughput and maintains high quality, all while lowering staffing costs.
Kirk Marple is president and chief software architect of RadiantGrid Technologies.