Omneon Strives to Ease Workflows

(click thumbnail)Geoff Stedman, vice president of worldwide marketing, OmneonSUNNYVALE, CALIF.
With an eye towards improving the everyday work life of broadcasters, Omneon heads to the NAB Show with a handful of product upgrades and new technology solutions that are designed, in one way or another, to smooth workflows and help unscramble the sometimes-tricky world of content repurposing.

“The biggest challenge facing broadcasters is deploying real-world workflows that enable higher productivity and efficiency while at the same time helping them deliver more content to more platforms,” said Geoff Stedman, Omneon vice president of worldwide marketing.

The phrase “file-based workflows” gets bantered about quite a bit, he said, “and yet the industry is still struggling with exactly how to make things work together seamlessly.” “A file to one system isn’t quite the same file to another—even with standards like MXF,” he said. “And it is the integration of workflows across a common platform that broadcasters are trying to make happen.”

Broadcasters are also puzzling mightily on how to take content that was originally produced for television broadcasts, and repurpose it for a myriad of different platforms, be it a PC, a mobile phone or IPTV. “It’s clear that the industry needs content platforms that fully support a file-based workflow model and have the intelligence and processing capability to ensure that formats are interoperable and readily accessible for whatever use a broadcaster might have,” Stedman said.

Omenon is attempting to meet that need with a slate of solutions that touch on that hot-button phrase—once again: file-based workflows—and allow that process to work efficiently across multiple systems.


Solutions on tap include the latest version of the company’s flagship active storage system, the introduction of a file transport engine as well as the next-generation file transcoding system.

“Our integrated content platforms enable broadcasters to encode material in a variety of SD or HD formats, using standard open media wrappers and file types, access that content with a wide range of applications, and either play content out as a broadcast transmission or easily repurpose and distribute that content for new distribution platforms,” Stedman said.

Among the new offerings this year will be Version 2.1 of the Omneon MediaGrid, a content storage system designed to play an active part in the broadcast workflow. New features include the ability to create storage reservations that ensure individual users will have a minimum amount of storage available to them, and more robust system monitoring and reporting. Targeted toward a wider range of facilities, this entry-level system operates over standard Ethernet links, giving external clients of the system a larger available pool of bandwidth, in the hopes of eliminating bottlenecks that can occur in some shared-storage environments.

The company will also showcase technologies it acquired with the purchase of Castify Networks last year, including the ProCast CDN, a file transport engine that allows for high-speed file transfers over a wide area network. With ProCast, users can move large media files over long distances, just as if the files were being transferred locally. The technology incorporates network management, bandwidth prioritization, automated transfers and WAN acceleration.

“As broadcasters move to file-based storage models, there has been an increased desire to easily move large content files from one location to another, either for disaster recovery purposes or for distribution to partners and affiliates,” Stedman said. “Standard FTP over long distances has significant limitations, so much so that in some cases it is faster to actually send a tape.”

The addition of the ProCast technology, Stedman said, gives Omneon the opportunity to offer a more comprehensive solution for managing and accelerating the distribution of large files over long distances. As an example, a one-hour DV25 file sent from Los Angeles to New York on a 450 Mbps connection would take 30 hours via FTP, but takes only three minutes with ProCast, according to the company.


For video conversion needs, Omneon will show off Version 1.1 of ProXchange, a transcoding system designed for high-volume, multiformat media environments. The technology performs conversion between a variety of video and audio formats, and in the newest version, supports Windows Media VC-1 and Flash video conversion. The technology also works to streamline the process of converting files to the proper format for each application and works to simplify the process of repurposing media.

The company has also inked key partnerships in recent months, working with Pro-Bel to integrate that company’s Morpheus automation and media management systems with the MediaGrid system, as well as with Vizrt to integrate that company’s Viz Ardome asset management system with Omneon MediaGrid. Omneon has also seen its systems installed in key station networks, including Equity Media Holdings, which is using the Omenon MediaGrid for active online storage as well as the Spectrum media servers for ingest and playout of content.

With shouts of “improved workflow” on the lips of many an attendee at the show, Omneon believes it is poised to help broadcasters find the right path.

“Our integration [of technologies]… gives broadcasters a wide range of tools for managing many aspects of their file-based workflows,” Stedman said.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.