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Simplify media asset management with automated workflows

Mary Wyatt

Today’s media organisations must deliver more content to more platforms, generally under considerable time and cost pressures. A significant part of the solution, lies in software-defined technology platforms, which allow for largely automated processing and management of content within the media asset management system.

To achieve this desired goal, the elements of the system must talk to each other. While standards are emerging, in general this must be obtained through the development of APIs allowing the controlling layer to talk to other parts of the technology.

The modern, software-defined media solution depends entirely upon metadata. It can be technical, such as format, duration, location, or it can be intellectual or descriptive such as title, content and so on.

Metadata resides in the asset management platform. Given that modern workflows depend entirely upon metadata, it is completely logical that the asset management system should also contain the workflow orchestration layer.

Every media business will have different workflow requirements, with the need to create its own workflows to ensure the swift and seamless passage of content through the organisation. The flexibility to create and link workflows is of vital importance.

One of the biggest problems with most media asset management software today is the detailed knowledge of a scripting language embedded in the software layer. This limits the flexibility of the media organisation to tailor workflows, due of the need to call in specialist resources to write and validate the scripts.

In Mediaflex-UMS (Unified Media Services), TMD has taken a radically different approach to media asset management and workflow orchestration. The software includes Workflow Designer, which allows you to create, test and implement workflows, with no scripting skills. Tasks are simply joined by dragging and dropping the elements into the required order to create or modify the workflow. Precisely tailored workflows can be created in a matter of minutes, without recourse to external technical staff, saving time, improving accuracy and expanding the capacity of the organisation.

Triggering and Linking Workflows

Once designed and released onto the online system, workflows can be triggered in several ways. It can be started manually, by an operator with responsibility for that area of the business. Content arriving on tape or physical media would need manual operations to initiate the ingest.

It can be triggered automatically, most obviously by a link from another workflow or by an API from a piece of equipment. The ingest workflow in the previous section, for example, could optionally trigger several workflows. It might set up a chain of notifications, including sending an email to the submitting production company confirming that the content has been received and accepted. If the content is a new series arriving at a broadcast facility, it could trigger a work order to create a series of promos or trailers.

Finally, a workflow can be launched by monitoring a watch folder. This allows content to arrive from production companies via file transfer services such as Aspera or Signiant, or from cloud services such as Aframe or Forscene.

The final task in a workflow can call one or a number of other workflows. Again, these links are set by simply selecting the appropriate task and adding links to the connected workflows by dragging and dropping. This ensures that each designer needs concentrate only on the individual workflows under his or her control, calling workflows from other designers without the need to understand the scripts and technical interconnectivity that underpins them.

Registered Service Tasks

TMD has already built into Mediaflex UMS API-level interfaces to all the common equipment likely to be involved in content workflows, such as file transfer systems, storage networks, transcoders and quality control. It also provides for simple access to messaging services including SMS and email from within standardised tasks.

Automated workflows in media asset management bring huge gains in efficiency to today’s face-paced world of media management.