SVG Europe Sit-Down: Marquis Broadcast’s Paul Glasgow discusses the Cloud and reflects on BVE

Founded in 1998, Marquis Broadcast began as a workflow consultancy and held the belief that it was the interaction between people, and not technology, that affected the successful implementation of new technologies.

Today, it provides a range of media integration products designed for the data-intensive and challenging requirements of fast-paced media production environments, enabling producers of digital media to achieve maximum efficiencies from their workflow processes.

SVG Europe’s discussion with sales and marketing director Paul Glasgow starts with a look at one of the company’s key products.

Can you tell us about Medway?

Medway is one of our software products. It’s ground and/or cloud-based media-savvy middleware that’s widely used in the industry by organisations such as Discovery, CBS, BBC, MNET Sports, and so on, to integrate incompatible systems such as post-production, DAM, transmission, libraries and media servers.

Unlike simple workflow/transcode systems that process and deliver a consolidated file with EDL references, Medway uniquely processes media at sequence level. So, for example, it can add pre- and post-roll handles to the media at each edit point. No matter how the material is subsequently processed by Medway, for example, re-wrapped, transcoded, and so on, it is still inherently editable at any point in the downstream production workflow.

This is critical where rights need to be associated with media in downstream operations

In fact, Medway is the only middleware that can 100 percent roundtrip transcode and re-wrap fully-editable sequences via Avid ISIS, NEXIS and Interplay. This enables us to also track the genealogy of every frame in the sequence, so the genealogy is inherited in downstream edits and IMF processing. This is critical where rights need to be associated with media in downstream operations.

We have also deployed the Medway Engine Web Service (MEWS) in AWS cloud compute. It’s proving a great way to integrate professional cloud and ground workflows. As MEWS has inherited all the power of Medway processing and integrations and made these available in cloud compute, we can do some pretty clever things including in-cloud partial file retrieval, which improves egress speed and reduces costs and enables distributed operations.

Are there still some lingering suspicions about the Cloud?

The big US media enterprises are the early adopters and are executing cloud on a business transforming scale. There are some powerful use cases that have increased capability, flexibility and production speed whilst also reducing costs. I’m also seeing clear strategies on security, with media being encrypted both in-flight and at rest in private cloud.

I think it’s also wrong to think of the Cloud as a homogenous thing when it’s not. Customers are looking at agile multi-workflow, multi-cloud vendor compute services and also using both on- and off-prem cloud storage.

I think it’s also wrong to think of the Cloud as a homogenous thing when it’s not.

We’re now seeing some seriously quick and inexpensive cloud storage providers, enabling the kind of behaviour we need in media production. This is also accelerating the demise of LTO tape, with cloud offering very fast, low cost, uncontended storage, with none of the maintenance costs.

We have passed the commercial and operational ‘tipping point’; it now makes clear sense to use cloud, as long as there are significant commercial and operational benefits associated with deployment.

How has the increasing use of OTT impacted your solutions?

The Interoperable Master Format (IMF) is a key enabler for automated versioning and to service multiple OTT markets. It is therefore critical to maintain editable and easily versionable sequences in the workflow upstream of IMF processing. The importance of integrated genealogy tracking within sequences is also crucial to integrating rights management systems, since usage rights may change depending on target geography and devices. Medway is a great technology, especially if hybrid cloud processes are involved.

What were visitors to your BVE stand most keen to discuss?

Disaster recovery and business continuity for Avid is a hot topic and our newly Avid-certified Workspace Tools products use unique analytics to accelerate recovery to production. In some scenarios, recovering work in progress 100x faster than conventional DR tools. Very often, it’s impossible to insure high-value fast turn-around productions against outage or loss of operation.

We have exposed in-cloud versioning of Avid project workflows, called Delta Parking, which now means an Avid project can be moved to the cloud, picked up by a remote freelancer, edited, then versioned back into the cloud – only the changes are versioned which means only new media is moved. The project can then be versioned back into the source project in ISIS or NEXIS. It’s a great way to use freelance staff whilst protecting and managing the project. Better still, Delta Parking is a standard capability of Workspace Backup and Project Parking – ideal for productions using a lot of distributed contributors.

Customers want to move away from old tape libraries and proprietary expensive management software.

BVE visitors were also keen to talk about migration from legacy tape library systems. Customers want to move away from old tape libraries and proprietary expensive management software. We have made this migration seamless and painless, also offering the possibility to plug in third-party analytics so we can augment the metadata to frame resolution. Of course, on- and off-prem cloud storage also has a role to play here, combining uncontended cloud storage with partial file retrieve to transform library performance.

What will you be showcasing at NAB?

All of the above, plus fast cloud-based proxy relinking, cloud media upload and indexing and cloud-based partial file retrieve. This is ideal for distributed productions, interconnecting cloud-based multi-resolution media with an Avid ISIS or NEXIS production centre. This greatly improves Avid utilisation, avoids large production costs and leverages distributed resources.

What do you see as your main challenges for the next twelve months?

Moving fast enough and further extending an eco-structure of partners to meet and anticipate the very diverse needs of our client base. At any one time, we’re running two or three client pilots of new workflows, often with new partners.

Do you have a sports-related case study you can share?
African broadcaster Kwese Sports took delivery of a Marquis Medway system from Zimele Broadcast to facilitate fast turnaround coverage of [the 2018 Winter Olympics]. Medway was retrofitted to a Nexis/Avid Interplay, Diva, Isilon infrastructure to enable ‘edit while ingest’ for the fastest possible turnaround of incoming live feeds. Importantly, Medway enabled this critical functionality without needing to replace any existing systems.

Qvest Media, Spain, provides consultancy, systems integration and support services to numerous major clients in the broadcast, sports and media industries. Among them, a Madrid-based broadcaster heavily involved in sports production is making extensive use of a large-scaled Avid ISIS/NEXIS storage platform. Through thorough evaluation, Qvest Media was able to test and benchmark Project Parking on the client’s system in Madrid.

Project Parking succeeded in cleaning up the system and making production workflows more efficient, visualising and externalising Avid projects. The system was used subsequently at [the Winter Olympics].

Marquis Broadcast will exhibit at NAB 2018 on booth SU6225

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