UT-Chattanooga Athletics Archives, Digitizes Content With Asset-Management System

In his office at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Director of Creative Services Owen Seaton has a closet housing more than 4,000 reels of 16mm film. It’s a common problem for many working in college athletic departments. The crew at Chattanooga decided to do something about it.

The athletic department is a little over a year into a partnership with MetaMAM, an HTML5, Web-based system written by Swedish software supplier Cantemo. The platform allows Seaton to properly archive all of his new content and digitize historical archives and also functions as an FTP server, allowing him to grant access to outside partners — whether local television stations or other schools.

“We do a lot of productions not only for our video boards but also for our Website and everything else,” says Seaton, who has spent seven years with the Mocs. “So, after we master out a feature, we can tell it to transcode to Flash for our Website, and, as soon as it finishes that transcode, it will hit the FTP and automatically go up to our Website FTP.

“It really cuts our workflow down to the point where we can work smarter,” he continues, “especially when you get into those times of the year when you’ve got football and basketball going on at the same time.”

According to its creators, MetaMAM was designed out of a need to replace clients’ Final Cut Servers, which Apple canned in June 2011. The simple, HTML5-based program allows access on any Web browser and can even be accessed via mobile devices, including the iPad.

Seaton met the MetaMAM team at the IDEA information-systems conference two years ago but was originally interested in CatDV, a multimedia-asset database built by UK-based software company Square Box Systems. MetaMAM appealed to Seaton, but budget constraints forced him to wait an extra year to get the deal done.

UTC’s Creative Services department is just a two-person operation, with Seaton joined by Leah Gill, production coordinator of MocsVision, the school’s subscription-based digital platform that provides live game coverage, coach’s shows, and breaking-news alerts.

Seaton says MetaMAM’s asset-management system improves workflow and helps the two of them simply “get more sleep.”

Through MetaMAM, the Creative Services department is able to quickly upload all its new content and organize it properly.

“Like everyone else, we’re shooting on tape less and less, and, if you don’t have a plan for that digital footage, it can overrun you pretty quickly,” says Seaton. “It came down to the fact that we’re buying 4- and 8-TB portable hard drives at an escalating rate. Frankly, every time you spin one of those up, you’re going to risk that it’s not going to spin one day and your stuff won’t be there. We shoot a lot of stuff that never gets to tape, and it came down to how do we organize this footage in a way that we can find it down the road and how do we make sure we’re using our best practices to make sure none of this stuff ever gets accidently deleted or lost forever.”

The critical factor of any asset-management system is its metadata-tagging ability. Without it, archived footage is not very useful.

“It’s like finding a box of old tapes and half of them aren’t labeled,” says Seaton. “That doesn’t do you a whole lot of good either. That’s the importance of us tagging this stuff well so that people 10, 15, 20 years from now can look at it and know what it is, how they can use it and, hopefully, monetize it.”

Seaton believes that the role of an athletic department staff is to ensure the safety and quality of its historical content. Robust metadata, he adds, is crucial to achieving that goal. “We may not like to think of it this way, but we’re all archivists in one sense: we have to make sure that this stuff is here long after we’re gone.”

In addition, he and Gill have taken on the task of archiving the athletic department’s historical footage. Over the first year, he notes, more than 40 TB of historical content was archived. The push to archive historical content came from the school’s marketing department, which sells spots like “This Moment in Mocs History” on the Mocs football and basketball video boards.