SVG Europe Sit-Down: Avid’s Jeff Rosica on ‘unprecedented change’ and the role of IT in broadcast
By: Philip Stevens
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 8:06 am

Jeff Rosica, President, Avid

Since leading the revolution in non-linear editing over 25 years ago, Avid has continued to invest in research and development and currently holds over 200 patents. Avid solutions have been recognised with numerous industry and technology awards – but progress continues and, says company President Jeff Rosica, the challenges are ongoing.

What’s the biggest challenge facing Avid today?

The media industry is going through unprecedented change, with more content being created than ever before. With staggering increases in content consumption and exponential growth in distribution platforms, technology budgets have not kept pace, creating relentless pressure for operational efficiency. To overcome these challenges, media organisations need to create high-quality, engaging and immersive content, distribute it to more outlets and devices, and maximise the value of their media assets—all while make best use of operational and capital efficiency. These same challenges that our customers face are what drive innovation at Avid.

Over the past four years, we’ve worked hard to address these urgent industry and customer needs. We’ve put intensive effort into creating the industry’s most open, tightly integrated and efficient global media platform with the most comprehensive tools and workflow solutions to create, distribute and monetise media. We’ve introduced the industry’s most flexible deployment models, licensing options and commercial structures. And we’ve created the industry’s largest and most prestigious customer community, the Avid Customer Association, whose input helps shape our collective future.

Yet even as technology advances, the challenges continue. While the pressure to create ever-greater volumes of high-quality content is immense, technology budgets are straining to keep pace with these demands, and heritage production environments aren’t as flexible or efficient as they need to be to handle the load and fast pace. Extending media production to the cloud—in the way that best suits your operational realities—opens the opportunity to both increase production capacity and ease the financial burden on content creation and distribution. This is why many of our latest innovations leverage the cloud.

Avid has been around for some time and has introduced a wide range of products. Is there one aspect of your products/services that sticks out as being the real game changer?

State-of-the-art, real-time broadcast graphics creation are achieved using Avid 4Designer

Four years ago, we unveiled our Avid Everywhere vision, outlining the key challenges and needs of the media industry, while providing a strategy for more efficient ways of working. A key part of this strategy is the MediaCentral Platform, which connects content creation with collaboration, asset protection, distribution and consumption.

Today, the MediaCentral Platform is unrivalled as the most open, flexible, and integrated media production and distribution platform in the industry. Now, not only can media organisations more efficiently connect disparate teams and accelerate their workflows, but new distribution and monetisation capabilities are helping them connect with their audiences in ways that are much more powerful and profitable than ever before.

At this year’s Avid Connect, the annual gathering of the Avid Customer Association, we announced cloud innovations for the MediaCentral Platform that herald the greatest expansion of Avid Everywhere since its launch. The platform is now cloud-enabled, and can be deployed on premises, in a private data centre, or in the public cloud, providing everyone in the media industry with the ability to create, distribute, and manage content more efficiently and profitably using one common platform. It also enables several of our creative tools and workflow solutions to be deployed in the cloud along with the platform.

With new cloud-based client applications, media services, and infrastructure on demand, customers will be able to deploy the platform, services, and app suites in more flexible ways—on-premises, in a private data centre, and in the public cloud—all within the same familiar ecosystem.

The Avid MediaCentral platform is an onramp to the cloud, giving media organisations greater efficiency, flexibility, and agility to meet today’s most pressing media production challenges. With it, media organisations will grow viewership and brand affinity, connect with their audience in new ways, and fully protect their assets by operating in a secure environment—whether on premises, in a private data centre, in the public cloud, or any combination thereof.

Avid Chairman & CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. says: ‘By creating a streamlined mediascape of shared platforms and common standards we can empower storytellers, developers and deliverers alike.’ What does this mean in practical terms?

Avid Spark provides smart telestration for sports production

The MediaCentral Platform connects teams, tools, media, and audiences together in one tightly integrated environment. It streamlines workflows using common technology components, shared media services and engines, a connectivity toolkit, and media event bus for workflow orchestration—all of which can be leveraged by any certified application running on the platform. Today, more than 2,000 Alliance Partner products are certified for the platform.

Individual artists use the platform to tell better stories and connect with other artists and studios. Dispersed creative teams use the platform to tackle big projects in record time, and media enterprises use the platform to go bigger, faster and farther – more efficiently.

Are the systems that Avid creates the responsibility of IT or are they production/editorial functions? And is there really a ‘blur’ between the departments?

Avid’s heritage is built on IT for media. We started by taking IT technology and bringing it to editing. As pioneers in IT for media, we believe it’s our responsibility to lead the industry through this change. We did it with Pro Tools and Media Composer, and now we’re doing it with Avid Everywhere and our platform strategy.

The media industry has specialised requirements in areas such as security, file size and complexity. It’s not easy to deploy IT technology in this environment. You can’t just call in an IT provider with a pure IT perspective to help you. Media organisations need domain experts with industry heritage who understand the uniqueness of their needs.

Our role as a strategic technology partner is to integrate the latest technologies from any industry and incorporate them into a workflow in a way that solves our industry’s problems.

At NAB you announced a partnership with LinkedIn to provide official Media Composer, Pro Tools, and Sibelius content through Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning. What is the thinking behind this move?

Today’s competitive job market increasingly requires fluency in digital media. To help media educators better engage students and prepare the next generation of media professionals for careers in the media and entertainment industry, we’ve partnered with Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning to expand access to official online content for Media Composer, Pro Tools, and Sibelius, the industry standard tools for audio and video post-production and music creation and notation.

We leveraged this partnership in our first hybrid format Avid Educator Workshop, combining online learning with two-day classroom training, at the Broadcast Education Association conference during NAB this year. Upon launching registration, the workshop quickly filled to maximum capacity with 20 university professors, demonstrating the strong demand for Avid’s expertise in higher education.

Can you tell us more about the solution you provided for the Turkish multi-sports organisation Fenerbahçe Sports Club?

Multi-sports organisation Fenerbahçe Sports Club began broadcasting sports content on its own satellite TV channel, Fenerbahçe TV, in 2004. What started as a small operation producing a few hours of content each week has since increased its daily output to a wide range of rich content for both TV and the web, including highlights packages, player interviews and match analyses.

As the volume of media production significantly increased, its original production system became insufficient to meet today’s standards and content demands. This year, the club decided that the time was right to move from SD to HD production, overhauling its entire infrastructure, and investing in an end-to-end sports production workflow based on the MediaCentral Platform.

Avid Global Services worked with Fenerbahçe and Avid partner Teratek to design and install a customised end-to-end HD workflow, which features the best, most comprehensive tools and workflow solutions at every stage. MediaCentral | UX, the cloud-based web front end for MediaCentral, provides the user interface for Interplay | Production at the heart of the system, allowing the small Fenerbahçe production team to keep track of many stories for multiple sports by managing content creation, automating workflows, and empowering collaboration.

MediaCentral | UX also allows remote production collaboration from anywhere with an Internet connection, and provides access to Avid iNEWS, which brings efficiencies to news production from planning and resourcing to delivery across multiple channels. The journalists use Media Composer to produce the video for their stories. Avid AirSpeed accelerates media ingest, enabling journalists to browse footage as it is captured and start preparing their stories simultaneously, while Media | Director works with Interplay | Production to orchestrate the process of ingesting media into production and nearline storage.

The workflow also includes Avid Maestro for stunning on-air graphics to keep viewers tuned in, and Avid PlayMaker for slow-motion replays and quick media highlights creation. Avid shared storage enables real-time editorial collaboration, while Fenerbahçe is also using Avid Blend channel in a box for playback and real-time branded graphics creation.

Avid claims that its channel branding solutions keep viewers engaged. Tell us more, please?

The “consumerisation” of content creation and distribution has created a challenging environment for sports broadcasters. With more channels competing for viewers, maintaining and growing a brand is critical to long-term success.

With Avid’s comprehensive channel branding tools and workflow solutions, sports broadcasters can build and grow a successful brand by creating a unique, eye-catching studio that becomes part of their brand identity, and using real-time channel branding workflows that deliver the flexibility and efficiency needed to thrive in today’s competitive sports media environment.