“A robust cloud-based solution ensures digital assets are not only protected but also reusable for the future.”
Archive footage is hugely important in the world of broadcasting, allowing producers to build previous events and interviews into new programming to create a more compelling story.
In the build-up to any Grand Prix, for instance, broadcasters often use historic content from previous Formula One events to add to the excitement, create a narrative, provide context and, sometimes, to ensure the programme is long enough to fill the time allocated to it.
However, there are challenges when trying to access archive footage saved in different places across disparate systems, or just being unable to find it.
The challenges of historic content
With so much new content created daily, the quantity of archive material held by broadcasters is only increasing. While they may be able to overcome the issue of storing that footage, finding it again presents a whole new series of problems.
This is worse when broadcasters have facilities across multiple locations, making storing and sharing content among themselves and with other organisations, as well as with numerous users, a problem. Databases or file-sharing platforms are frequently in use, and content can’t be found easily. This content may then be impossible to recreate, or if it can be, it’s at a large cost to the business.
Similarly, with employees for an organisation often spread out across the globe, there are ineffective systems in place to store and share content. Once a person leaves the business, they also take their knowledge of where content is located with them. So how can broadcasters overcome these issues and calm the headache caused by the storage of archive footage?
Finding a solution
The answer lies in a robust cloud-based solution that ensures digital assets are not only protected but also reusable for the future. While this will require a small initial investment of time and money to implement, it is a low-risk, high-reward approach that will allow broadcasters to safely store, search and share content internally, and has the potential to provide significant benefits.
The best cloud-based SaaS solutions are built to scale as the situation demands. This eliminates broadcasters having to take on expensive capacity management fees during quieter periods, but can easily cope with peaks in demand too, as costs are based on usage and consumption. On-premise installations can also be scaled, but they involve capital expenditure that cannot be scaled back when demand returns to normal levels.
However, even in cases such as this where the amount being stored only ever goes up, there are real savings to be made. For instance, if a broadcaster has an entire catalogue of media which it needs to re-process to make modern new renditions for the latest video codec or image format, in the cloud it only pays for the time it takes and the parallelism. If it takes X hours with on-premise equipment and needs to be done twice as fast, twice as much equipment is required. But if it’s urgent and needs to be completed 1,000 times faster, the user needs 1,000 times the equipment, which isn’t going to be possible.
However, in the cloud, 1,000 times the processing power can be gained at the click of a button, and assuming the user only needs it for the duration of the task, it will only pay 1,000 times more for the duration, one thousandth of the fee it would otherwise be. It’s therefore not only scalable, but also highly economical.
Cloud infrastructure vendors and cloud-based SaaS platforms can take care of everything, from hygiene factors such as stable power and physical security, to hardware maintenance, patching and software security.
Additionally, implementing a video management platform presents the opportunity to monetise content. A wealth of programmes or footage stored online creates the potential for VOD services. The BBC, for example, added a ‘From the Archive’ section to its BBC iPlayer on-demand service. Although most broadcasters don’t have an extensive back catalogue like the BBC, moving to a single digitised catalogue of content allows them to create platforms showcasing their content on a smaller scale and therefore create new revenue streams.
Tim Jobling is CTO of Imagen.