NAB Perspectives: SGL’s Andrew Winter Wants To Upend the Archive Workflow

In the words of Director of Marketing Andrew Winter, SGL (Software Generation Ltd) wants to “flip the traditional archive workflow right on its head.” By this, he means placing the archive at the front of the video-production chain rather than the end, allowing producers to treat the archive as the primary source for media. It’s a bold move, but one that Winter sees as the future of SGL.

“We believe that the concept of archiving should not be something on a shelf at the end of the workflow,” he says from the NAB Show floor. “It should be at the front of your workflow and serve as the primary source for your content. Our work latest developments reflect that.”

Possibilities of LTFS Opened Up by Notification Service
As the use of LTFS (linear tape filing system) continues to grow, new workflows are making their way into media facilities, enabling the ingest of material directly into the archive store. The key to this strategy for SGL is its newly unveiled Notification Service, which allows details about the archived material to be automatically pushed to a media-asset–management (MAM) system.

Intelligent archive systems can quickly read the index information from an LTFS-formatted tape (which may, for example, have been used on location to capture material directly from HD camera or intermediate discs) and directly assign UIDs to the content, populate the archive database, and generate a lo-res proxy for editing. Using a simple subscription setup, the Notification Service then announces the arrival of the new material to the controlling MAM system and pushes relevant data to the MAM, describing the archived material based on rules selected by the broadcaster.

“You can set up our Notification Service in your workflow however you like,” says Winter, who came on board at SGL in February. “You can look for new media arriving or media being deleted or a tape drive going off-line. Rather than the MAM having to interrogate everything all the time and finding something that’s missing, we are pushing out notifications that take care of it all. We are flipping the workflow on its head by moving the archive to the front and making it active in your workflow.”

A Simple UI With FlashBrowse
In conjunction with the Notification Service, SGL is demonstrating FlashBrowse, its Web-based portal that allows users to perform archive, search, browse, and restore operations from any machine on a network running a compatible Web browser. In addition, FlashBrowse captures lo-res proxy versions of clips as they are archived and includes a proxy viewer within the browser window so that the user can search for and view clips before restoring them.

“Everyone is trying to avoid employing more staff these days; it’s extremely expensive,” says Winter. “So, if you can employ your system to actively monitor itself and tell you what’s going on, then you can make your workflow a lot more straightforward. And you don’t have to buy a million-dollar MAM system.

 “The Olympics is a perfect example where this could work well,” he continues. “In London, all this media was coming in and much of it going to the second screen. You can keep it all and produce different versions much faster than you could by having to constantly transcode the content.”

Teaming Up With EVS
SGL is also highlighting its new partnership with EVS, which integrates SGL FlashNet archive library and EVS IPDirector suite of video-production–management applications. The integration allows broadcasters to transfer media seamlessly from EVS live-production servers to the SGL FlashNet archive library through the EVS IP2Archive module in IPDirector.

“EVS was very excited by this because it gives them an open system within a workflow,” says Winter. “So they can still do what they do so well, which is fast turnaround and slo-mo, but, at the same time, they can provide their clients with quick access to an [archive library].”

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