BLAM helps BAFTA Manage their Cloud Content Catalogue

When British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ (BAFTA) media management team discovered Blue Lucy on a visit to IBC, they recognised that the Blue Lucy Asset Manager (BLAM) could transform their archiving and post-production systems from on-premise RAID arrays and Excel spreadsheets to efficient cloud enabled workflows.  BAFTA is now using the BLAM, hosted entirely in Amazon Web Services (AWS), to manage their content archive and streamline production workflows.

 

BAFTA’s Requirements

BAFTA is an independent, internationally respected charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.  In addition to its awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round, international programme of learning events and initiatives that offer unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, US and East Asia.

As well as covering BAFTA events, the in-house production team also produce online learning resources for people interested in pursuing a career in film, TV or gaming, adding over a terabyte of new content per month to their archives.

Prior to implementing the BLAM, the team were working from portable hard drives, on-premise RAID arrays, and were using Excel spreadsheets to track the material metadata.  Given the increasing volume of content being produced, they were looking for a more robust, secure and organised way to manage their media, reduce silos and open the archive up to all internal departments.

As Rosie Wilson, BAFTA media manager, explains, “We were looking for a media asset management (MAM) system that was versatile enough to handle some of the production team’s workflows as well as meet archival requirements, and in a cloud-based environment.  With offices around the world, it was important to find a system that would allow for global access, plus the ability to scale and potentially integrate with other systems, including BAFTA’s cloud-based media management service, BAFTA Electron. The Blue Lucy team’s experience in the broadcast sector and flexible, can-do approach convinced us to implement the BLAM.”

 

How the BLAM is implemented at BAFTA

BAFTA’s operational goals

The BLAM was selected to fulfil two key project objectives:

  • Bring the large, historic media collections under secure management to enable curation, ease of discovery and provide long term secure storage
  • Streamline the rushes workflow to speed up the edit process and make best use of all content captured at BAFTA events

Storage management and content access

The BLAM manages three tiers of AWS storage for BAFTA: S3, Glacier and an EC2 disc based storage volume.  File-based material from BAFTA’s London office is uploaded via a secure high-bandwidth AWS DirectConnect to the Amazon cloud storage bucket, which is managed by the BLAM.  The BLAM then creates a browse / proxy of the uploaded material which is stored on the EC2 disc to enable responsive, frame-accurate playback within the web-browser based interface.

 

Operational task management and automation

As with many media operations, particularly those involving archive material, the need for accurate metadata is paramount. BAFTA’s metadata schema is multifaceted and supports a large amount of information for a range of asset types. However, for simplicity, only relevant data fields are shown for any given asset and controlled vocabularies are used.

BAFTA BLAM Metadata View

The arrival of new media assets triggers task-based operational workflows for the manual keying of pertinent metadata to ensure it is easily discoverable. BAFTA’s historic, Excel-based metadata records are imported into the BLAM via an automated workflow, and matched to media by a simple script before being manually curated into collections as part of a task-driven workflow.

 

BLAM Workflow View Showing the Excel Metadata Import Script

“It would have been unfeasible for us to manually re-capture the historic metadata we have stored in Excel,” explains Wilson.  “With the BLAM we simply upload our Excel spreadsheets when the content is imported, and the BLAM automatically populates the fields in the system with the metadata from the document.  And, because it’s extensible, I can go into the administrative side of the system and add new metadata fields too, if required.”

 

Material reformatting and distribution

For content sharing and distribution, the BLAM provides the capability to transcode archived material to a range of house, edit and distribution formats, including the option to add a watermark to help protect rights.  The system also includes a branded in-browser player to provide a simple screening area for non-Bafta users.

 

Archiving

The archive workflow is ‘rules-based’ and routinely archives material that has not been accessed for a given period. The BLAM automatically moves material from AWS S3 to the Glacier storage class, while the browse proxy remains on disk to provide a lightweight reference of the archived master asset. Restores are also workflow-based with administrative approval required for expedited retrievals.

 

Post-production workflows

For new content produced by the BAFTA team, the BLAM provides rushes workflows to accelerate the post-production turn-around time. Folders from camera cards are imported directly to a project folder and the browse proxy for each clip is automatically concatenated to create a single browse file for the entire card.  This accelerates the logging process, which is also carried out within the BLAM user interface.  Editor workflows provide in-system tasks and automated email notifications, whilst the cut and splice capability of the Blue Lucy tailor plug-in allows teams to efficiently reduce unwieldly files before edit.

 

The end result

“We’ve got limited resources and implementing the BLAM has required a constant level of communication between our team and Blue Lucy,” concludes Wilson. “They’ve been very responsive throughout the implementation and testing phase, and, now that the system is live, we’re continuing to work together to develop the system.  A great thing about the BLAM is that it has an open API, so integration with other technology, like our internal media processing system, is possible in the future.”

“We are very proud that BLAM was chosen to support this important initiative for BAFTA. No other organisation embodies the importance and history of the art of the moving image,” said Blue Lucy founder, Julian Wright. “The web-browser based, simple to use and operationally focused nature of BLAM make it a perfect fit for BAFTA’s business needs.  A cloud-based deployment, which is supported operationally and technically by Blue Lucy, allows BAFTA to carry out their media operations securely without needing to concern themselves with technology.”.