The W word was everywhere at IBC writes Workflow Files editor Dick Hobbs. There was a noticeable increase in the number of vendors recognising the need for seamless interconnectivity, needing open interfaces.
Simon Fell, newly appointed director of technology and innovation at the EBU, said “different file formats and workflows are what people have to contend with. If you talk to production and post specialists they are all grappling with different niche solutions to deal with the massive floods of data we get from new digital cameras and huge shooting ratios.”
A new buzz phrase firmly entered the broadcast debate at IBC: big data. Although it has been around in the IT industry for some years, the media business is now beginning to realise that many of the issues facing it are down to the sheer volume of information we create and manipulate.
One of the limitations of cloud services in broadcast is the need to move huge files around. A European Union project called Vision Cloud – which received an IBC Special Award – has been looking at the practicalities of it. Its fundamental conclusion was that if content was to be stored in the cloud, then you need to keep it there, not keep moving it back for processing.
The project coined a new word, “storlet”, for an app which runs near the content in the cloud, driven by the metadata, to minimise transfers. Italian national broadcaster RAI is already using storlets and cloud services for its news production and online delivery.
The other application of big data is taking the industry towards one of its long-sought goals: the ability to target the audience on an individual level. UK supermarket group Tesco has brought Blinkbox founder Michael Comish on board to head its new digital offer. “Our customers are quite comfortable giving us information about their shopping, because they know they get rewarded for it from points but also from targeted offers and services that really matter to them,” he said.
CTO of UK Channel 4 Bob Harris agreed, suggesting that the ideal is to amass customer data “and use it to do things like target ads which are more applicable to you, and perhaps make recommendations about what you might want to watch on our platform.”
With big data on the one hand, and companies like Cinegy claiming “SDI must die” as we move to IP connectivity, the industry is more about IT and workflows than ever before. And, as Simon Fell said, “it is time the tension between IT and engineering was wiped away, and we all make better use of each other's skills”.