APVI manages data with Avalon

That digital technology has empowered radically new ways to create and distribute media is not a revelation. The ability to digitize video content has made APVI look hard at issues like supply chain management, process control, workflow efficiency, time-to-market and global collaboration.

New Jersey-based Audio Plus Video International (APVI) handles standards conversion, duplication, post production and mastering. We have worked to position ourselves as an end-to-end solutions provider to help our customers repurpose their content to meet the demands of multiple distribution channels and global standards.

We set out to build a data management system that would leverage what has been learned in global commerce about process management, supply chain and multi-site collaboration and distribution. In doing so, we hoped to capitalize on our own experiences in content and broadcast, as well as the partnerships we have with industry vendors.

The lessons of global commerce can also be applied to the stock film industry. Time-to-market is mission critical in the stock film business. Simply put, first in wins the bid. Those who embraced digital distribution early on have achieved industry leadership, while those who failed to come onboard have suffered accordingly.

In broadcast, the ability to seamlessly and efficiently manage the flow of content files between the on-air, archive, automation and online systems has facilitated a supercharged workflow that delivers ROI on the infrastructure. Networking and improved data management have given clients the ability to mine product across a much broader base.

We have taken the stock-footage model and migrated that over to broadcast. With one client, we encode all of the content and then use AVALONidm to manage that content onto DVD. With one of the major sports leagues we use the management software to seamlessly manage EMC Clarion storage systems and Sony Petasites on the back end. We’re also porting this technology out to independent producers to enable them to create a metadata content stream and preview low-res or high-res proxy footage.

Avalon’s data management software uses intelligent algorithms to manage data within the storage subsystem according to user-defined policy categories. It contains storage managers optimized for managing files on magnetic disk, data tape and DVD. All three manage data transfers between the storage devices and video servers and other data servers and operate under the direction of the Avalon data manager.

We chose these data management systems because of our goal to remain as manufacturer-agnostic as possible. The front end can be whatever our client wishes, while back-end storage can be anything from a Sony Petasite to an Asaca DVD jukebox to an Ampex DST streamer. Only the core infrastructure isn’t agnostic. The system’s ability to control other product bases impressed us.

Our open approach required a universally scalable architecture. The goal was to be able to plug anything into the network, whether to add functionality or to add capacity. All of the technologies would also need to pass a threshold for robustness and security.

Over the past five years, the manipulation of content has evolved from traditional analog and digital videotape to storage media and disk- and tape-based file transfers. The continued development of more advanced infrastructures and storage management systems will be equally progressive.

Over the next five years, there will continue to be tremendous change as the model transitions to the delivery of files over ATM or other proprietary fiber backbone. We’ve worked hard to build the creative hubs and to streamline efficiency within the hubs and now we’re concentrating on the bandwidth bottleneck and improving the speeds at which we can communicate with our customers and partners.

We’re a standard-definition application and we’re seeing more customers looking for satellite- or fiber-delivered digital files. APVI is positioning itself to meet this need.

Tony Beswick is the vice president and managing director of Audio Plus Video International.

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