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Studio Pulse

OFU on Media Asset Management

Big Data. We’ve all heard that term, or even heard their one-hit wonder. By definition, it is data that is so immense it takes more than human interpretation to make something of it, to see useful correlations and patterns. In the past, we’ve made quite a few videos that deal with big data for our clients, but now our company is starting to really feel what it means to deal with big data of our own: video content.

When we create a video, we shoot, edit, and send the final file. But what if we could take the raw footage we shot and repurpose it to create more content without reshooting? That’s the value proposition of Media Asset Management. It takes the ‘big data’ of video content and brings the most relevant parts to the surface, making it easy to repurpose.

While at NAB, the biggest video tradeshow in the world, I noticed an explosion of companies offering media asset management services. Clearly we’re not the only ones dealing with this. Imagine a major studio producing multiple television shows, and imagine how much video they need to process at any given time! It’s the same for universities, ad agencies and in-house corporate studios. It can be overwhelming without tools to help ingest and organize that content. These media asset management (or MAM) companies cater to studios like ourselves that need help wrangling all the data.

Imagine a library full of books, and you want to look up the theory of relativity. You can randomly look around, hoping that the books are organized in some fashion, and spend hours digging through books that aren’t relevant to your search. Or you can ask the librarian, who is intimately aware of all the books in the library and can tell you the location of relevant books and the specific chapters. That librarian in our example is the software portion of MAM. When new video comes to our studio, we ingest it into the MAM and catalog it with the proper metadata. Now that the MAM is aware of it, it can bring it to the editor’s purview when they need it.

MAM-Octopus gifMedia Asset Management isn’t a one-trick pony either. Having all our video content neatly organized in a database opens up a whole new world of possibilities. For example, if a client wants to be able to look through every interview they’ve done at the transcript level, they can do that through a web page pulling data from the MAM. If an editor needs the latest logo for a product, they can look at the MAM to find it exactly where it should be. Versioning is maintained for produced videos. Searching aimlessly is eliminated. Managing data at the file level is eliminated. Manual archiving is eliminated. And other possibilities that we haven’t even thought up yet!

So Media Asset Management is great, and everyone should use it! Well not so fast, there are downsides to everything, even for a unicorn such as MAM. One is cost-of-entry. Depending on how it is set up, what modules are purchased, etc, the MAM could cost upwards of thirty thousand dollars, definitely not pocket change for most users. This product is definitely targeted toward larger production studios that can find such a expense an offset to current workflows. Second issue is the old adage of garbage in, garbage out. The MAM is only as good as the data it is fed. So to really benefit, the studio requires a lot of metadata entered by hand. Many MAM’s support AI for facial and object recognition, speech to text, and other metadata generation, but it will depend on the buy-in from the primary users of the MAM to make sure content is cataloged properly so as to make it as powerful as possible.

Is a MAM for you? That depends on your organization. Does the footage you’re shooting have life beyond the video it was shot for? Do you have so much content that you need software to help keep you organized? Do your clients want to see everything you’ve worked on in the past? Is your archive strategy a mess? Media Asset Management can help with these questions and so much more.

Over the next couple of months, we at One Floor Up will ask ourselves these very questions and begin our journey toward taming our big data. Stay tuned to this space for updates!

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