When ingesting audio and video content, the graphics, CC, PSIP and DPI triggers require special handling. In addition, rather than store a finished program with composited graphics and other program elements, it’s far more efficient for future repurposing to maintain these related program elements as discrete but associated items. The result is content that can be more easily repurposed.
A wrapper methodology can be used to associate audio, video and other program-related elements into a media object. The key is that it’s now easy to reassemble these elements in totally different ways, creating new programming.
This process also allows the playback to be customized to day and time as well as to the particular receive device. Now, let’s look at some of the workflow issues that can be addressed through effective object management.
Graphics and program production
Recreating graphics for different receive devices is both time consuming and expensive. Graphics, crawls and bugs, which look great on a 60in HDTV, are infinitesimally small when viewed on a mobile player. Or, if repurposing content for PC playback, you have to consider whether to display the lower-third graphic inside or outside of the video window.
One good solution is to keep the program elements separate from the graphics and then recreate the appropriate program stream with proper formatting and sizing at the time of playback. This leaves all options open.
If the content elements are each in a discrete data stream, features could be developed that allow the viewer to control the lower-third, crawl, clock, score and other supplemental graphics. The data could be parsed for easy viewer selection and based on user-input keywords. Even the keywords could change, based on content.
Animations, snipes, promos and teasers are often time-sensitive. They are usually inserted into the program stream by master control as the program is transmitted. A rebroadcast of the original program may not need, or want, this same information repeated.
Content producers, however, may still want to use those same elements and features, albeit properly updated, on a second playback. For example, the snipe that announced a special program to run next Thursday could be played again, but this time promoting a program that occurs on Saturday. Or, a PC viewer might be told that this Web program is scheduled to run on broadcast TV next Wednesday at 9 p.m.
News content creates special issues. For instance, do you archive the as-broadcast version, or do you store a clean version of the video so it can be easily repurposed years later?
There may be historical significance to crawl information, such as on 9/11 when the sequence and timing of information updates in the crawl added to the retelling of the tragedy. But, that may not be true when the crawl announces who’s ahead in a political race. There are good reasons to store both versions.
Transport stream data
One of the primary differentiators between analog and digital TV is the capability of ATSC systems to deliver data. This includes the mandatory carriage of PSIP data. PSIP data includes program descriptions, ratings information and closed-captioning.
When management of PSIP data is carefully considered, one potential use of the program descriptions found in the event information tables (EITs) is with a DAM system. Similarly, ratings data can be linked to the content and used when the program is repurposed, ideally, through an automated workflow.
If all this information is abstracted one layer above the textual implementation of EITs, RRTs, etc., and stored in a database, the content producer now has both content and data, which can be used for repurposing in new, creative ways. This is the idea behind using media objects and content wrapper techniques.
Closed-captioning is an FCC requirement. Text analysis tools can be applied to closed-captioning data and used to automatically classify content. The extracted keywords can easily create a database of broadcast content. Simple search and retrieval methods exist to enable a desktop to browse system, just on CC data.
Commercial insertion timing
Programs are artistic creations fine-tuned to create a dramatic property for broadcast. The insertion of commercials is, of course, important; however, no producer wants his actor’s punch line and the audience’s response separated by 90 seconds of commercials. It’s worthwhile to know precisely where commercials can be safely inserted.
Today, commercials are triggered by the detection of splice point information, which is inserted into the transport stream. These are called Digital Program Insertion (DPI) points, specified in SCTE 30 & 35. For the above reasons, it could be wise to store this information in a database to protect a program’s artistic sense.
Content wrapping techniques are frequently described as using object models. A true object-oriented methodology, however, does more than simply group data together as an object. It also encapsulates operations on the data as part of the object.
Future content management systems could enable the development of content objects that drive program generation. The system would automatically produce programs in platform-appropriate formats, along with graphics and data, with a simple folder drop or function call. In other words, a fully automated, integrated production workflow that produces and distributes content over any channel with minimal operator intervention.
Program Metadata Communication Protocol, ATSC A/76, and the work of the SMPTE BXF (Broadcast eXchange Format) work group is a step in the direction toward such a goal. In order to enable many of these features through the production and broadcast chain, cooperation and coordination of efforts between numerous equipment manufactures and standards organizations is going to be required.
At this point, audio, video, graphics and data have been ingested into the facility Media Asset Management system. The next Transition to Digital newsletter will begin a discussion of asset and data management with respect to further developing our integrated production and distribution platform.