BLAM in action
Hybrid BLAM for Banijay Rights content operations
The Banijay Group is the world’s largest independent content creation group for television and multimedia platforms.
Banijay Rights is the group’s international distribution division and is responsible for storing, managing and distributing the more than 250 000 assets in the group’s content catalogue. After recently moving storage and management of their content library in-house, Banijay Rights needed to bring the archive under secure management and streamline operations with automation and task management. They chose BLAM for archive and operations management.
“We sit in a different space in the market to a traditional broadcaster because, although we have a large inventory to manage, our delivery timelines are generally measured in days or weeks as opposed to newsrooms that are expected to deliver content in seconds,” explains Banijay Rights project manager, Mark Glennon. “Enterprise MAM’s that offer broadcast fail-safes as standard generally cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and can’t shrink below a certain size, while products like the BLAM fill a void by providing core functionality in a cost-effective solution that can scale up if we need it to.”
The BLAM implementation was completed in late summer 2017 and provides a complete process workflow – from the creation of media products (placeholders) imported through integration with the rights management system, to the ingest and QC of media through editing, archive management, publication of screeners and delivery – is all controlled through a simple browser-based user interface. To fully realise the benefits of workflow automation, integration with key business systems has been an important aspect of the project.
Rights Management Software Integration
The key business system integration is with the content rights management software, EasyTrack (ET).
A BLAM workflow polls ET at a given interval to check for any new content additions resulting from new content deals or commissions. From these, a media structure based on the number of series and episodes for a given title is created in BLAM, and any metadata fields common between the systems are automatically populated. In BLAM, metadata is inherited within the hierarchy derived from ET.
The BLAM tracks both physical (DVD and video tape) and file based assets with the import of the latter being automated through watch-folders. When assets are imported, the media handling workflow – which includes both process automation and user task management – is triggered.
The Banijay Rights team manually match media to the titles using the BLAM browser-based video players (which include features such as multi-track audio monitoring.) As part of this workflow, the team also enriches the content metadata, using controlled vocabularies to drive accuracy and on-screen feedback to ensure the data is complete. This workflow includes mandatory fields which operators must complete before the workflow moves on.
This tight integration ensured that both the media rights and media management system are synchronised at all times which saves operator time and ensures accuracy.
“The integration of our rights management system with media and operations management is one of the biggest benefits we’ve seen from this implementation,” explains Glennon. “Banijay is an amalgamation of many different companies and being able to put all our content into one library and use EasyTrack integration to expose all this material to our sales team will make it much easier to market and sell our inventory.”
Quality Control Software Integration
For quality assurance, the BLAM connector for Telestream VidCheck is used to automate the QC process. A suite of QC tests is executed on all material ingested into the system and the results passed back to BLAM as time-code delineated data as well as a .pdf report. Any errors or warnings raised by VidCheck are highlighted in the BLAM Baseband player timeline within the browser-based interface. This allows operators to quickly seek within the material to identified issues and provide an ‘eyes on’ check using a baseband grading monitor.
Cloud Storage Management – AWS Integration
In terms of media management, operations are automated where possible and workflow driven. All material that enters the system is copied by the BLAM to the nearline (spinning disk) storage, and a safety copy is uploaded to one of two AWS S3 buckets. BLAM manages the spinning disk and – when a given threshold is reached – material that has not been accessed for the longest period is deleted. Naturally, as part of that automated workflow, BLAM re-checks that the safety copy is secure in AWS S3 before deletion.
For all archived material, the browser-ready proxy material (created by the BLAM at the point of ingest) is always kept on-line. This allows operators to search for and view content before triggering fulfilment workflows such as full format content delivery or publishing to the Banijay media sales portal as a screener.
The Data Migration Headache
In order to overcome the perennial challenge of data migration Banijay invested in an AWS Snowball transport solution. The BLAM natively supports bringing disparate content stores under management in this way.
“As a rule, we do a lot of work in the first six to nine months after material arrives and then seldom touch it again,” says Glennon. “The cloud archiving model works really well for us as we don’t need constant access to the original content, but we can easily recover it when we do need it.”
“The BLAM’s integration with AWS S3 provides Banijay Rights with a hybrid cloud / ground archive of their entire content catalogue which is both low cost and secure,” explains Blue Lucy founder Julian Wright. “The Banijay BLAM system demonstrates the significant operational and business benefits of integrating systems to streamline media operations management.”
“One of the reasons we chose the BLAM was because the team were so flexible and amenable,” concludes Glennon. “They’re really open to suggestions and easy to work with to solve problems. We almost went with another system but our experience has been very good and I’m confident we made the right choice.”