IBC 2018 Reflections: Grabyo CEO Gareth Capon sees automation, the cloud as the pulse of the broadcast industry

By Gareth Capon, CEO, Grabyo

The broadcast industry is changing, fast. The sector is moving swiftly to meet the demands of today’s consumer, leading to technological developments that have brought the internet closer to the TV than ever before. As we witnessed at this year’s IBC Show, this momentum shows no sign of slowing down.

At IBC, there was a noticeable increase in interest around automated and AI-assisted production, a reflection of wider trends in the media industry: the demand for more content, for more people, on more screens — without a meaningful increase in the budgets to deliver it.

Grabyo’s Gareth Capon: “AI can empower editors to produce content more quickly and easily, freeing them to focus on their art.”

Introducing AI to the content-production workflow has huge potential for the video industry but must be done with careful consideration of whom the content is for and where it will be viewed. There are scenarios in which AI and machine learning can enhance existing processes: for example, using computer vision to understand the context of videos and images and using cognitive audio services for speech-to-text capture, translations, and metadata extraction. This must be balanced with the creative input of production teams and the understanding of the nuances of  both content and context, something that is hard to “train an algorithm” to achieve.

With a digital production platform, AI technologies can be used to recognise certain scenarios or “triggers” within recorded or live programmes and instantly catalogue short clips or autonomously can apply overlays and effects, reducing the time and resources needed for real-time content production and postproduction. This is valuable when publishers need to create a high volume of clips across multiple platforms in a short time. However, AI cannot completely cut out the editors; enhancements in productivity does not mean the end of human engagement in the process.

Simply put, computers are not great storytellers. Removing the emotion and contextual understanding of a video sequence can take the life out of it. Take sports as an example. Live data inputs can tell you when a team scores or when a foul is committed, but it can’t recognise a piece of dazzling skill or the best reactions from the crowd. It can’t tell you which fans sing the best songs or why 30,000 Irish fans are dancing because Will Grigg is on fire. There is real value in automating production for the key moments — a winning goal, for example — but it’s harder to create an engaging story of the game without using other contextual references.

This also applies for drama, action, or almost any genre of content. A computer can recognise the lead character’s face and tell you when it’s in frame; advanced AI can probably tell you the expression on the character’s face, but it can’t piece together the best moments of dialogue or the most heartfelt scenes. Emotional storytelling often makes the best content. AI can empower editors to produce content more quickly and easily, freeing them to focus on their art.

Benefits of Cloud Production
Cloud computing was another major talking point at IBC. Although cloud technology has been around for some time and is widely adopted, many broadcasters and publishers are beginning to reevaluate their use of the technology within their OTT, mobile, and social-video strategies.

Broadcasters are adopting the cloud for core uses — such as storage, video encoding, or delivery — and many are waking up to the breadth of services that a cloud platform can support: live streaming, content production, audience participation, remote production, collaborative video editing, and real-time distribution to mobile, OTT, and social platforms.

One of the benefits of cloud production is to make this process simple, fast, and easy to use. Delivering services through a web browser simplifies workflows and improves productivity. By enabling teams to utilise their full resources across locations and departments, browser-based editing allows assets to be accessed, created, recycled, repackaged, and redelivered, regardless of which member of the team is editing on which device. Content is available everywhere and always up-to-date. Production teams also benefit from using the latest, most advanced updates to platform services; browser-based cloud platforms are updated the next time you log in, not when you download the latest software patch.

IBC confirmed that not only is digital video here to stay but content production will increase exponentially in the coming years. Capturing online and social-video audiences is a strategic priority for media companies and broadcasters as they migrate away from TV and print. Advertising expenditure is also migrating online, offering more value in terms of targeting and measurement to advertisers and generating new revenue streams for publishers. The shift to online video looks unstoppable, and it should be a fun ride.

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