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Applied Technology: Telestream's FlipFactory TrafficManager

Today broadcasters are under increasing pressure to reduce costs and streamline their operations. Many are achieving these goals by moving to digital operations and by implementing asset management and automation systems.

But how does a TV station sort through the maze of asset management solutions available today? One approach is to implement such solutions at the point of ingest, where stations receive more and more commercials, promos and even news from a variety of digital media delivery services.

Typically, TV station personnel dub media to tape or use valuable router ports and media server encoder channels to redistribute the media throughout their facilities. They must also manage and move tapes received from other content providers, as well as promos created in their own edit suites.

How can a TV station improve this resource-intensive, manual process of media receipt, associating metadata, tracking, quality assurance, reformatting and transfer to on-air playout servers? The challenge is automatically formatting the media for each destination device.

Telestream of Nevada City, CA, recently introduced new technology that addresses these problems. Based on Telestream’s FlipFactory media transcoding engine, the FlipFactory TrafficManager software application automates the entire process of media receipt, notification, tracking, previewing and reformatting for digital delivery to destination devices throughout the facility. TrafficManager is a practical solution to a specific business need.

It allows multiple users to locate and access digital assets and metadata simultaneously across a LAN or WAN. It protects and extends current infrastructure investments and streamlines existing workflows by easily integrating with leading automation, indexing and asset management systems.

The application is configured on a Windows 2000 gateway server. It monitors edge servers for the arrival of new content from a variety of digital media delivery services such as Vyvx and DG Systems. It also monitors local servers for receipt of new content such as promos, news and material from the station’s own edit suites.

TrafficManager notifies operators as soon as new media arrives. It automatically transcodes the incoming content into a low-resolution proxy format, such as RealVideo or QuickTime, that multiple users can access quickly and view simultaneously from PCs located anywhere in the facility. This allows operators to access metadata, key frames and audio analysis, and to extract or enter new metadata such as house ID.

The application also automatically transcodes media into the required formats and bit rates and delivers them, with their associated metadata, to a variety of digital devices in the facility, including broadcast servers for quality assurance, on-air servers, edit suites, storage systems and streaming servers for use on the Web.

Flexible, software-based asset management solutions like Telestream’s FlipFactory TrafficManager provide a practical solution for broadcasters transitioning to digital operations. They ease the workflow process and cut costs by improving the way stations move and manage their media – digitally, from source to destination.

David Heppe is vice president of marketing and business development for Telestream.