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TMD's Workflow Environment

Tony Taylor

As with many other industries, broadcast, media and archive organisations have been very dependent on manual workflows for business processes, along with the huge volume of paperwork, emails and phone calls required to manage them. Although in the world of videotape and film this was not ideal it was at least manageable as users could actually get their hands on the physical item. But this method of working does not lend itself to file-based content. It cannot operate at maximum efficiency, cannot be automated, is error prone and gives very little feedback in order to find out the status of any content or process.  In today’s digital world with an ever-increasing number of media delivery channels to multiple devices and the exponential rise in the consumption of media content, the need for a highly efficient file-based business process management (BPM) solution to acquire, manage and deliver the content cannot be over emphasised.

Mediaflex® provides the most powerful, user configurable and flexible media-aware BPM software platform available today.  Mediaflex Workflow provides a library of over 50 frequently used media management and content preparation tasks that users can configure to create templates for specific business processes.  This configuration is provided by a graphical user interface that doesn’t require any specialised development or scripting expertise.  Automated and manual tasks can be included in single workflows with support for serial, parallel and decision based workflow paths. Templates can be nested to enable the triggering of one workflow from another.  

Mediaflex CI (Content Intelligence) is part of the workflow engine and delivers automated decision making based on metadata harvested from the media essence files, data fields within the Mediaflex MetaServer and/or external systems. The power that this functionality provides enables the organisation to automate the most labour intensive processes thus significantly increasing efficiency across all aspects of acquiring, managing and delivering media content.  Integrating a powerful workflow engine with a Media Asset Manager (MAM) delivers great benefits in terms of accuracy, efficiency and speed.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The process illustrated here is controlled by the Mediaflex MetaServer (MAM); for reasons of simplicity the MAM and Workflow elements are separated in this diagram.  In this process the customer places an order which is allocated to the Mediaflex Workflow engine. The ingest operator can then start work in the knowledge that the required metadata and instructions are available and that the content required is in the right place at the right time. After each process completes, the workflow engine updates the Mediaflex MetaServer database so that the next operator, or automated process, in line is able to start tasks with the minimum of delay.

Work orders (Jobs) can be created in a number of ways within Mediaflex Workflow. Individual tasks can be created manually by a user selecting a media item and raising a manual job on the selected content. A pre-set template can also be selected manually and a job consisting of multiple tasks can raised. Automated job creation can also be achieved in a number of ways. Firstly 3rd party systems can integrate through the Mediaflex API and raise jobs on the Mediaflex platform. These systems can also query the workflow platform for status and other attributes as tasks are carried out. Finally jobs can be raised through business logic built into the platform. This enables schedules and other lists to be exported from other business systems imported into Mediaflex and raise jobs based on the information in the schedules or lists.

A job schedule dashboard, to view and select jobs that have been scheduled, is provided within Mediaflex Workflow. The views of these jobs can be configured on a user by user basis dependent on individual or group permissions to display only relevant task information. The functionality ranges from a user being able to see only their own schedule right through to managers being able to view the entire operation, across all departments and incorporating all users.  The schedule dashboard provides comprehensive and dynamic status information that is updated in near real time as tasks are carried out and completed. It also provides the status information for tasks that fail or are paused or pending.

Mediaflex Workflow delivers the integrated approach to business process management. Tasks that require 3rd party devices to undertake media processes, such as transcoders, QC devices, encoders and many others, have the relevant configuration parameters set within the task details panel of the workflow designer. This approach negates the need for any scripting or development as new devices are added to the system to increase processing volumes through the workflow.

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