The TVBEurope MAM Leaders’ Series, in association with Avid, is an exclusive thought leadership initiative comprising a series of roundtables, interviews and regular blogs from the industry’s leading authorities. Focusing exclusively on asset management, the Leaders’ Series will be a regular fixture throughout 2015, and was officially launched at a dedicated roundtable event at The Shard, London, on 5 March. We continue our series with an article by Bartosz Paprocki, CTO at Telewizja Polsat sp. z o.o.
Identifying the right MAM investment
After a number of years observing the market, we were able to get a true perspective of the solutions that work well, and those which will naturally disappear. We were slightly late to the table, but in 2011, we decided to start the investment process to purchase a MAM system. The decision to invest in Avid Interplay was made by Polsat’s Tender Committee, which examined, in detail, the seven other proposed systems. The key factors behind choosing Avid were the cost of investment, and the degree of integration with the station’s existing production systems. Also, its deep integration of PAM and MAM systems brings the greatest benefits of an operational nature. Today, due to time and flexibility of operations, it is a necessity to manipulate files instead of tapes. The mere fact that it is possible to start editing material while it is still being recorded in the studio and to describe the content and data while being rendered, considerably speeds up the operation in a way that was not possible with tapes. There are still new solutions and new technologies out there that can have a major impact on the optimisation of the system.
What MAM means to Polsat
MAM is a platform that organises the flow of files (programmes and movies), both from our station and from outside, to and from domestic and foreign customers. It is the central management system for production processes working with multichannel playout. The most critical task for our MAM system is to maintain the database of archived files as well as the automatic uploading of files from a digital archive to three distribution points: to Polsat for linear playouts; to Cyfrowy Polsat for VoD playouts; and to Ipla for IP streaming. For these reasons, the system must work reliably and have a constant efficiency of actions, 24/7/365. To meet this requirement, the system must be constantly monitored and any necessary action must be taken as soon as possible (this task is performed by engineers from the internal ITTV team).
It is also necessary to have appropriate support services agreements with the manufacturers, in case of any significant problems in the implemented processes and workflows, or problems with the MAM database.
Valuing the investment in MAM systems
Polsat’s MAM system is an essential component of our tapeless production and playout systems, which are based on a digital archive. MAM serves as an integration platform for all production areas, which include, amongst others: two Avid Interplay PAM systems for the post production of news and programmes; Apple FCP/Quantum StorNext for the post production of sport; an Aveco Astra multichannel playout system; TV studios with GVG K2 servers; and OB vans with EVS servers. With MAM being such an integrating factor at both business and information technology levels, it is a critical system for our entire business.
There have been many positives since we implemented our current MAM system. The first is that it took only 18 months following deployment for all of the inefficient work processes that were previously based on tape exchange, to be eliminated. However, the biggest positive changes are in pre-release screening, technical inspection and multichannel playout. Of particular note is how our processes have been revolutionised from the manual delivery of material on tapes, to a fully automatic process of transferring files from a digital archive and the different production systems. Already, the number of files delivered to playouts on a daily basis exceeds one thousand.
Importantly, the whole philosophy of what MAM means, and how it integrates within our infrastructure, has also been enhanced. This means that content is no longer tied to the physical media; it’s an independent entity. This opens up new opportunities, not only within existing fields of exploitation, but also for the future.
Measuring the return on investment
Following the implementation of our MAM system, we were able to measure a significant reduction in costs associated with tape technology. These relate to the elimination of HD video recorder purchase costs for TV studios; the reduced load on quality control (tapes were previously checked before each use, whereas the file is checked only once before entering the digital archive); the elimination of purchase and shipping costs in transferring video tapes from foreign distributors; reduced costs associated with physical tape archives (manual movement between different departments); lower VCR operating costs; the elimination of labour costs for playout ingest; and much more.
Whilst we aren’t yet able to accurately measure the complete return on investment, our previous analysis shows that MAM systems bring significant benefits for modern production facilities, not only in the financial sense, but also in relation to the competitiveness of Polsat and the entire media group.
Levels of investment
Before investing in our tapeless production and playout system, our internal analysis showed that within the five-year period, the level of expenditure on the existing (traditional) technology will be very close to the level of expenditure associated with an investment in MAM and the maintenance of the fully tapeless system. The savings associated with the withdrawal of tape technology compensated for the expenditure on the new system. Therefore, there was no reason to maintain uncompetitive technology.
The total costs are always difficult to estimate because apart from the direct costs such as the purchase of equipment, other factors, such as software user training or any temporary decreases in performance during system start-up, also need to be taken into account. The start-up period also brings additional costs resulting from the dual action of old workflows running alongside the new system. With proper planning and implementation stages unfolding, it is possible to minimise the impact of the new environment on the entire operation.
Click here to access Avid’s white paper: The ROI of MAM Systems. Discover how much time and money a MAM system can save your organisation.