Posts tagged ‘content’

changing behaviors

We’ll make a movie, you’ll play the staring role
and I’ll direct you on where to go
We’ll make a movie, up & down and roun’ & roun’
baby just you follow I’ll show you what to do

Before the advent of digital content production, files were limited to dog-eared manila folders filled with copious production notes. And long before videotape, everything was about film, and many of the same workflows remained in place.

Enter digital workflows.

Actually, digitizing the content value chain has started at different points, depending upon the media type. Print was a direct function of the desktop capabilities resulting from the mac platform and the Apple Laserwriter. It was not until later that print facilities moved from film to ‘direct to plate’, or on-demand printing. Radio focused on automating the play out facility, leveraging digital audio files to files integrated with playlist management. Studios digitized their raw film footage, and enhanced the available digital video desktop technologies for editing, and edited the content before mastering back to film. Today, they have moved to capturing digitally, and now distributing to digitally enabled cinemas. What a good colleague of mine calls “Glass to Glass. Forever”. More on that in a subsequent blog.

But the behaviors of content creation have really changed beyond just folks working out how to manage digital content files and integrate them into their current business workflows.

Consider the following.

The economics of a film shoot was centered originally on the cost of the film (the celluloid) itself. In the early days, cameras, film and subsequent processing were more expensive than actors’ time – at least when actors were owned by the studios. At that time, the practice of a clapboard was instantiated, as was the stereotypical “action”. The emphasis was on minimizing the wastage of film. The camera was already a sunk cost. Consumers demanded more interesting perspectives, and eventually cameras and film became more affordable, and so multi-camera shoots prevailed.

When Videotape came along, the clapper’s role was less focused on saving film (or videotape), but more on ensuring the documentation of scenes for subsequent editing. Tape was cheap, make more shots, keep doing it again and again because ‘video’ actors were generally paid less than ‘film’ actors. Film still held premium production qualities that audiences craved but by the 80’s video was ‘best’ for TV.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to digital cameras… with the introduction of 2K/4K cameras that rivaled film quality, finally the clapper truly became a mechanism for scene/take separation. In fact, anecdotally, I have heard that due to the relative low-cost of digital compared to actors and production, the camera in many instances was just left running. This practice captures ‘behind the scenes’ content, notes, exchanges between actors, directors, writers and bloopers etc. This content used to end up on the cutting room floor, now it can be valuable extra content on a DVD or a Blue-ray.

Economics driven by technology has changed the behavior of how stuff is made. Apart from the time used to plan content and shoots, the time to turn around rushes has shrunk along with the behaviors, which have become the typical unintended consequences.

Now managing that digital content from glass (at the camera) to glass (at the consumer device) faces another problem… how do we handle, tag and forever secure this content? Not very well I’d say.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

May 6, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

the business edge

I walk along a thin line darling
Dark shadows follow me
Here’s where life’s dream lies disillusioned
The edge of reality

Over the past decade or so, ever since the cost of streaming from a video server became just as, or more affordable than, playing content from tape, asset management has come to the fore.

I’ve covered asset management before in a few posts, most notably in digital asset management, but I sense two new paradigms emerging.

Indulge me.

Paradigm shift #1 – archive everything – and worry about it later… this is problematic, simply delaying the inevitable. A problem awaiting solution.

One of the first directives in moving to a digital world, is the management of ingest – the digitization of content and capturing its metadata. The emphasis is on transformation. Very quickly follows the stewardship and protection of the content and metadata, followed by utilization and transformation to other formats.

Unsurprisingly, this leads to a proliferation of content. And correspondingly, the need to develop efficient usage strategies employing the disciplines of IT economics as encompassed by the time, space, bandwidth tradeoff. Just like analog magnetic signals need rusty ribbon, bits require spinning rust, or rusty ribbon. But bits can be compressed…

Now comes the paradox. What do you keep, what do you toss? What has value today, what could have value tomorrow? How do you know?

Because the answers are not clear – the future never is – most is archived, just in case.

Paradigm shift #2 – manufacture and scaling – because content is digital I can provide my customers with whatever format they want… the computer does the work anyway.

Not quite. There comes a time when the cost of the infrastructure to create and maintain the content needs to be considered as a manufacturing process – creativity not withstanding. You see, once the creative process has developed the ‘master’, just as in a good design, the process hands over to the replication for monetization.

Correspondingly, one needs to start looking at the manufacturing plant, the place where the masters are stored, where the grid is located, its capabilities and how it is utilized, where the distribution points are located and the size of the transports leaving the factory etc. This starts to look very much like a process optimization and inventory management exercise, further complicated by consumer demand cycles and on-demand manufacturing and distribution.

Here’s the contention. Asset management used to be the nexus between business systems and the technical/operations infrastructure, because the currency was ‘digital content’. We’ve moved beyond asset management into a world where the currency is on-demand manufacture and delivery of content, and so the new tool is process orchestration and flexible infrastructure integration. What is that tool? Middleware. Media-enabled of course.

The edge of business influence in media operations has shifted closer to operations.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 25, 2010 at 1:00 am 1 comment

who’s getting it?

Someone who gets me
Someone who lets me be who I am, not who I’m not
And never gonna be
Who won’t misdirect me
Someone who gets me

Who in the world would ever have thought that one day Google would give the keynote address at Mobile World Congress?

It’s not just about apps.

Recently it has become very clear to me that the core of the Telco’s SDP infrastructure is becoming very IT-centric. It is also being integrated very effectively into the business and marketing functions of the enterprise. This is a radical departure from the days where internal communication was via job-tickets etc. It is almost getting to the point where Telco’s are becoming very large IT-network infrastructures that are exposing their capabilities for other organizations to use. Telco’s have embraced IP and IT and are searching for ways to increase their value. They’re doing it with an integrated business infrastructure that increasingly controls the underlying network core. And their business models are moving to realtime bandwidth and topology arbitrage. As I have long said, it’s not just about the cornflakes, but it’s about getting them to the customer in the cheapest manner possible. It would appear that retail distribution is coming to telco in more ways than originally expected.

Now Google is trying to create an industry wide infrastructure, which is almost the next generation of abstraction beyond the efforts of the telcos.

And as the cost of IP content delivery approaches parity with multicast RF distribution schemes – game over.

Contrast this to the newsprint, cable, satellite and broadcasters. What many call the ‘traditional’ mediums. Many are still debating the fine line which separates IT from the ‘content’ side of the business. Their obsession with control seems to be inhibiting the innate desire for bits to flow seamlessly through the business. Why the difference? More importantly, how are these entities going to compete in a world where the primary game in town is a mobile-oriented, increasingly cash-rich generation of audience. Of the media-types previously listed, it would appear as though the print industry may have just been given a reprieve – a gateway into that mobile audience.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 11, 2010 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

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