Sports Asset Management: Meticulous Logging, Metadata Creation Are Key to Success

As the shift towards file-based workflows continues to accelerate, major sports video operations are forced to deal with thousands upon thousands of video files on a daily basis. As a result, detailed logging methodologies and metadata creation has never been more critical to an operation’s success. An afternoon panel at SVG’s Sports Asset Management event on Tuesday brought together media management leaders from across the industry to discuss their approaches to logging and metadata.

Dom Miuccio, Sony Professional Solutions, Account Manager, MAM Solutions

“Logging content correctly and attaching metadata is a critical element in automating workflows and allows people to locate key pieces of video quickly and efficiently,” said Dom Miuccio, Sony Professional Solutions, account manager, MAM solutions. “Your content becomes a vault of valuable assets when you know what and where they are. By going through this logging and metadata process, it allows you to locate those assets and turn them into gold.”

What’s in a Name? Everything

Contrary to the parental advice so many received in their childhood, MAM workflows rely heavily on the “judge a book by its cover” philosophy. In order to quickly find files in a jungle of video content, leagues and broadcasters must institute extremely detailed naming convention for files.

Tab Butler, MLB Network, Director, Media Management

“Where do you start with media asset management? Well the first thing you’re going to look at is the file name,” said discussion leader and MLB Network’s director of media management Tab Butler. “Having enough information in that file name to make it meaningful is critical. For us, when MLB Network launched, it took an awful long time to come up with the naming conventions for the file because that is what is going to serve as the foundation for the logging and the metadata process.”

Butler referenced his initial encounters with the MLB Network production staff, which believed that a simple naming standard that contained only basic information would make for an easier workflow. However, just a few months into the network’s launch, editors were already complaining that they had “7000 VO-Jeter files and they couldn’t find a thing. It goes to show if you don’t take the time up front, you’re going to end up in trouble.”

From Left: Grant Nodine, NHL, VP of Technology; Frank Cardello, Thought Equity Motion, EVP of Corporate Development; James Seward, Vizrt MAM, Director of System Design

“You have to be able to uniquely identify every asset and the name of that file is the key,” said NHL VP of Technology Grant Nodine. “You have be able look at it and know that it is from the 2010-11 season, it’s a regular season game, these are the two teams involved, it was the home feed of that game, and so on. You should to be able to drill down to a fairly minute level of detail without ever having entered a single field of metadata other than the file name.”

The Thinking Behind Thought Equity Motion

While MLB Network and the NHL are focused squarely on a specific vocabulary for naming files and adding metadata, Thought Equity Motion (TEM) finds itself in a very different situation. TEM’s library must manage metadata and re-version that metadata for content from its more than 500 clients.

“We are not a rights-holder who has to define a standard and then adhere to it,” said Frank Cardello, Thought Equity Motion, EVP of Corporate Development. “Rather, we have to work with all standards of metadata, normalize their ingest into our platform, and then help them version that metadata – all the while, being able to write out that metadata in a way that our partners’ systems will be able to understand it.”

TEM starts with “baseline metadata” – the absolute most basic characteristics – and then expounds upon it with by versioning this metadata to each specific use case.

“Our philosophy is metadata is all about access,” he said. “Too much metadata can be a bad thing, you have to map the metadata to the level of accessibility that is appropriate. We’re never done. There isn’t a single library that we manage where we haven’t sat down with our partners at least twice a year to discuss our metadata standard and how we’re going to evolve that standard.”

The Vizrt Method: Transformation

Vizrt also works with a variety of broadcasters around the world, integrating MAM systems that often rely on its Viz Media Engine at the core of the system. As a result, Vizrt must cater the ingest and logging process to the broadcaster or league on a case-by-case basis.

“From a Vizrt standpoint, we integrate with a lot of different kinds of logging tools and ingest processes,” said James Seward, Vizrt MAM Americas, director of systems design. “Standards are always being presented, but never finalized. So we end up doing a lot of transformation of files and metadata that fit to the model and the MAM that your working with.”

Click here for SVG’s comprehensive coverage of the Sports Asset Management Forum.