Media Asset Management Systems
in the production workflow

Traditional systems for management of content and assets for broadcast and postproduction applications

Definitions :

Defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) are the following terms, which are commonly used:

        - Content: Essence and metadata

                    o Essence: Video, audio or data
                    o Metadata: Data description 

        - Asset: Content and rights

Soft- and Hardware solutions for organizing media content and rights are known under the interchangeably usable terms “Content Management” (CM), “Asset Management” (AM), “Media Asset Management” (MAM), “Digital Media Management” (DMM) and “Digital Asset Management” (DAM). The following image describes the relation between the used terms.

Relation between Asset, Content and Rights

Media Content – Essence and Metadata

For the different usages in the system the video and audio data is encoded in different quality levels and formats (table is an indication for the ratios):

Media Content DAM in Production - Format, Quality and datarate for video and audio

To ensure the exchange of metadata and content, one well-established format is widely used. MXF (Material eXchange Format, SMPTE 377M and other operational patterns and containers specified by the SMPTE) is an open standard for media files in the production and broadcasting environment. MXF therefore is not a supplementary file, it is a container for handling metadata and essence files in one piece. A possible meta data format is the BMF (Broadcast Metadata Exchange Format, Institut für Rundfunktechnik IRT).

Media Assets – Content and Rights

An efficient and credible rights management is a central component for the future of digital media content archives. Due to the linked market for digital content their producers and providers are anxious about the multiple uses in different formats and the tracking of their rights. Digital rights raise complex problems for integrating into media archives and are a big organizational challenge for the proper integration into present workflows.

Media Asset Management - Rights Process (Schneider, Krause, Schmidt – FKTG 2003)

Media Asset Management System

Important for avoiding media breaks, is the incorporation of a media asset management system into the complete workflow. One of the moment important tasks of a content management system in general is the re-use and re-purposing of archived material. This helps to reduce the costs of new productions.

User groups for accessing asset management systems

Dependent on the use of a media archive the individual workflow differs, the following graph illustrates the basic steps for ingesting new material into the system.

Workflow Media Asset Management System

The illustrated process describes the basic steps from the original source material to the final archiving. The goal of a media asset management besides the archiving is the efficient searching and browsing of the reference content, their metadata and corresponding rights. Normally all reference content that is inserted into the media archive is linked to specific metadata. The basic procedure is to assign one set of additional information to the whole media object. This restricts the searching for special scenes of a longer reference clip. To conquer this limitation an additional index process is needed. For this indexing of reference material two common strategies exist, stratification and segmentation.

The process of segmentation is straightforward. The original reference material is automatically cut into smaller independent media object. This enables the association of different metadata to pieces of the original clip and the independent access of this sub clips from the media archive. This procedure raises problems in the granularity of the segments and the proper annotation with the corresponding meta data.

The second approach is to use the spatial-temporal characteristics of the reference clips. Stratification does not require the cutting of the material, it makes use of virtual pieces of the material, which are explicitly defined and accessible by the corresponding timecode (each frame of the reference clip has a unique identifying timecode). Meta data can be associated to a specific range in the time code (temporal). This enables totally free and overlapping assignment of different information to the reference clip. This process can be done manually or supported by semi automated processes (e.g. face detection, pattern recognition, speech-to-text algorithms). Besides the temporal stratification it is even possible to segment the frames spatial and assign independent meta data.

Example Temporal Stratification

Based on these general structures the usage of MediaSeeker will be described in the following uses cases. Obvious is the benefit for the searching and finding of video and audio data in large media archives without manual interaction. Also the use as a supporting role for automated rights verification could be supported by the MediaSeeker technology. No comparable and working systems are available on the market.

Use Cases "Media Search" – MediaSeeker for Media Asset Management

Manual indexing with segmentation and stratification is a good first approach for making the search in large media archives possible. Still some uses are not covered by this mechanism. The presented techniques only allow the search on text based queries. Therefore the results are highly dependent on the prior manual annotation steps. Not covered by this solution are the following basic applications:

             - Finding duplicated scenes of a reference clip in the database 
             - Finding original footage for new cut videos
             - Re-use meta data for duplicate clips during the indexing
             - Finding differences for a given video compared to the original footage 
             - Automated rights verification for new footage

The search results for queries associated to the above problems are the stored assets. For incorporating MediaSeeker to current solutions additional modules for the content ingestion and the search are necessary.

Digital Media Management - Ingestion with MediaSeeker Fingerprint Generation

Every material to ingest into the system will be additionally to the known indexing steps segmented and fingerprinted by the MediaSeeker system. The fingerprint is then logically associated to the reference material and stored together with the asset in the archive. This adds another level to the current stratification process. An additional fingerprint cluster data structure and fields to the existing data base have to be added.

For the incorporation of MediaSeeker to existing media archives the fingerprint generation has to be a flexible module through which already archived media object can be fingerprinted independently. This could also be used to regenerate the fingerprint due to algorithmic changes.

MediaSeeker Fingerprint Module

For the described basic applications a structure for formulation of search queries and the comparison of a fingerprint with a reference fingerprint cluster is necessary. Based on the fingerprint of the actual material all desired queries can be done for finding associated assets for this specific clip.

MediaSeeker Query

As a result, the related assets are displayed and can be chosen for further processing steps. For the automated rights verification during the ingestion of video material into the archive and the duplicate check, the fingerprint of the new clip is automatically compared to the reference fingerprint cluster. This procedure allows checking for already existing copyrights and meta data. This is an assisting process for the indexing phase of the content.

The described building blocks focused on the pure video data. An additional requirement of such a system is to search for audio and video independently.

If you like to find out how ivitec's MediaSeeker Technology can improve your Media Asset Management - get in touch!

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