With Phase I complete, FIMS project seeks addition feedback

For more than a year, the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) and the European Broadcast Union (EBU) have been working together on a Framework for Interoperable Media Services (FIMS), that they hope will stimulate the development and implementation of more flexible file-based workflows and facilitate greater efficiencies in the content creation process.

Many believe that for broadcasters to successfully implement any type of multi-tasking platform that will accommodate the simultaneous production and distribution of content to multiple platforms, FIMS—or some form of it—has to be embraced by most vendors’ technology.

Last year at the 2011 NAB and IBC trade shows FIMS demonstrations were held to prove the viability of the concept and were supported by a number of vendors, both at the level of service provision and service orchestration.

At the IBC2011 show AmberFin, a developer of media ingest and transcoding solutions, demonstrated how its iCR file-based, signal-processing platform was integrated within Sony’s Media Backbone workflow orchestration and integration platform. Job requests and associated metadata generated by Media Backbone Conductor appeared directly within the AmberFin GUI, with no need for switching between GUIs and systems.

Both AMWA and the EBU said this approach to an all-inclusive, overarching architecture requires a level of control and interoperability not previously included in media system design.

Thus, after much back room discussion and interoperability tests, Phase I of the project has now been completed and the groups are looking for additional feedback on how to move forward and to increase the number of participating companies—so as to develop a “universal” solution without proprietary limitations.

“These demonstrations were provided as a proof of concept rather than as examples of real media workflows,” the groups said. “Now, with these successful steps behind us, we are next focusing on the needs of real media companies with real content management and real business problems to solve.”

The stated goal of FIMS has been to create a unified, tightly networked architecture that seamlessly incorporates equipment and services from disparate manufacturers and treats each production process as a service that can be easily accessed by a number of simultaneous users. The benefits are that important processes (for example transcoding or file checking) are not locked into one place and are available when needed. This helps reduce unnecessary duplication of processes and allows the various tools to be used efficiently. The groups are also looking at linking traditional media processes with back office systems in order to streamline the entire content lifecycle.

The groups have developed a range of supporting technical documentation which they say can be very helpful for organizations “that are well advanced in their technology planning and with a good understanding of FIMS concepts and implementation. For example, included amongst the documentation is a template/sample for a media "use case" application for media companies who are asking for a specific technical development.

“We are now actively seeking input from any media company which feels that FIMS could help its business and would like to exploit the potential of FIMS architecture,” they said. “For media companies that have not yet fully explored how FIMS could help their business or do not know how to start the discussion, we are keen to provide support and advice.”

To this end, the groups have developed a shorter "FIMS Request for Advice” form and are eager to help vendors in any way they can. There’s also a Phase 2 Submission Guidelines document online.

To learn more about the background for the FIMS initiative and its context in today's media industry, read Brad Gilmer's “Tying It All Together”.