Avid's IME

Today's broadcast industry is undergoing profound changes, including proliferation of new distribution channels, rising costs and uncertain revenue expectations. To cope with these changes, broadcasters must find new ways to overcome two main challenges.

First, many facilities still rely upon a legacy of fragmented technology strategy, systems strung together without the ability to operate outside specific workflow parameters. Second, they are dealing with workflows encased in a compartmentalized technological environment.

Through consultation with a wide range of media producers and broadcasters, Avid has developed a new concept called the Integrated Media Enterprise, which effectively describes the vision for a new technology strategy. Avid's Integrated Media Enterprise, or IME, is capable of adapting quickly to new distribution models, finding and repurposing the media it owns, and generally finding ways to be profitable and grow in a constantly shifting media environment. An IME can perform consistent repurposing of “raw” media assets into finished media products.

The IME framework breaks down the traditional broadcast production workflow into five well-known modules: acquisition, production, distribution, asset management and storage.

This framework affords content owners and broadcasters a unified, enterprisewide approach to working with all the media assets the broadcast organization owns or processes.

From a technical point of view, the goal is to integrate all existing and new digital production systems, for television, radio, image and subtitle archives, into a common, networked production platform. At the core of this program is an enterprise-level media asset management system that supports a wide variety of media. Key design components for such a platform include:

  • Maintenance of all long-term media and metadata in the MAM module;
  • Use of the MAM configurable data model to implement the diverging metadata requirements for the different content types and business processes;
  • Integration, as seamlessly as possible, between the MAM data model and production asset management (PAM) subsystems;
  • Modeling of all essence transfers and management of the overarching business processes with the workflow scripting and business process management capabilities of the MAM;
  • Employment of the MAM's service-oriented architecture to add capabilities as new services and integrate all third-party systems under its direct control;
  • Integration with other business systems via an enterprise service bus (ESB).

An actual application might be structured thusly: Systems directly attached to the MAM system are connected either using Web service interfaces provided by these systems, by creating SOAP Web service wrappers against the respective systems native APIs, or, in more simple cases, file-based exchange of essence and metadata via watch folders. (See Figure 1.)

All business processes that require invocation of these directly attached systems are orchestrated by the MAM's internal business process engine. Users engaged in these processes employ the extensible, Web-based MAM graphical user interface to search, find and use metadata and media, and to initiate and monitor processes.

Business processes that start in, or require participation of, systems attached to the ESB use its message normalization capabilities to translate message formats where required. The ESB delegates subprocesses to the MAM where applicable, and the MAM uses the ESB to delegate tasks to other systems where required by the process. To do so, the MAM exposes a SOAP interface to the ESB that can be used to issue queries and invoke workflows. The ESB also provides a SOAP interface that the MAM's workflow engine uses to delegate tasks.

Using open interfaces and protocols, standard IT integration technologies and a high level of configurability, the IME can leverage a high level of integration and interoperability across a heterogeneous system landscape.

The result is a new level of cross-enterprise collaboration providing widespread access to corporate media assets. Efficiency can be radically improved, while still retaining the integrity of the individual systems and without compromising the integrity and consistency of metadata and media essence.

Media assets can now be handled in a streamlined manner, and be converted and repurposed for new platforms without a high degree of manual intervention. Profitability in handling valuable content becomes more of a natural outcome.

Peter Thomas is senior director of IME strategy and Sam Bogoch is director of worldwide enterprise sales programs at Avid.