Overcoming the difficulties of storing archive footage

FKT Magazin 6/2019
Technologien & Lösungen

While archive footage is extremely valuable for the creation of new content, many broadcasters experience substantial challenges when trying to access this material. The present article describes how these challenges may be overcome using the right infrastructure.

Over time, broadcasters generate a huge amount of collateral. This archive footage then plays a crucial role in the creation of new content, allowing producers to build previous events and interviews into new programmes. Live television, such as news and sports programmes, relies heavily on this material to add context, build excitement and create a more interesting story. Its use is so fundamental that 30 to 40 % of news footage used by UK broadcaster the BBC is from its archive. While  this content is extremely valuable, many broadcasters experience substantial challenges when trying to access archive footage, saved in different places across disparate systems or, most frustratingly, just being unable to  find it.

The struggle to store and share content
Broadcasters and media companies usually have facilities across a number of locations, which means storing and sharing content amongst themselves and with other organisations, along with multiple users, is a big headache. Often, a number of databases or file sharing platforms are in use and content can’t be found easily. It may be impossible to recreate this content, or if it can  be, it’s at a significant cost to the business. Similarly, with employees for an organisation spread out across the   lobe, there are ineffective systems in place to handle storing and sharing content. This can mean that there isn’t a set location to store assets, so if a person leaves the business, they also take their knowledge of where content is located with them.

With large amounts of new content being created on a daily basis, the volume of archive material held by broadcasters is continuing to grow. Although they may be able to overcome the issue of storing that footage, finding it again can present a whole new series of problems. For instance, how is it organised, what format is it in and how can they find specific video clips at any given time? With such a vast library, pinpointing a certain piece that contains a particular goal from the 1998 World Cup, for example, can become a mammoth task. So, how can broadcasters break down these barriers and relieve the difficulties the storage of archive footage presents?

Fixing the problem
As more and more new content is produced, the amount of older material needing to be stored has also increased.  To ease the stress this brings, broadcasters must look to implement a more robust cloud-based solution which will ensure their digital assets are not only protected but also reusable for the future. While this will require a small initial investment of time and money, it is a lowrisk,  high-reward exercise, with long-lasting benefits, which will enable broadcasters to safely store, search and share content internally.

Among the advantages of a video management platform is the opportunity to monetise content with VOD services. This is something that has been demonstrated by most major broadcasters, such as HBO and ABC,  both of which have used their extensive back catalogue of content to generate new revenue streams. Through the creation of VOD platforms, these organisations have been able to make the most of their existing video  collection – some of which may not have been aired since it was first broadcast. This also allows them to tap into the trend of viewers re-watching ‘old’ boxsets and series, which has proven to be popular despite the abundance of new content that is being produced. While the majority of broadcasters won’t have as large a library as these national broadcasters, moving to a single, digitised catalogue of content can allow them to create platforms showcasing their content on a smaller scale and therefore create new revenue streams.

In addition to this, opting for a single digital solution may give broadcasters the push they need to digitise  archive footage which may currently only exist on film or video and which is therefore easily lost, damaged or destroyed. This is something most of us can relate to in our personal lives, with many of us likely to have old photo albums from our childhood or video tapes containing camcorder footage stored in shoeboxes or at the back of a cupboard. However, with so many memories often attached to this content, most of us are willing to pay for a cloud solution that will allow us to digitise and store all this content in one place, giving us assurance of its longterm security. This idea also applies to broadcasters but on a much bigger scale and for them, the risk of footage  etting lost or damaged could create major problems. While it won’t have the same sentimental value, it will  have a large monetary value and may be impossible to recreate. The size and scale of the obstacle broadcasters and media  ompanies are dealing with, in terms of the management and storage of content, will grow only in tandem. Organisations that fail to address the challenge of storing existing content will only see the problem worsen and will feel the effects on the quality of their  output. Yet, those that act and implement a new solution stand to benefit greatly from a more efficient system that not only grants peace of mind and ease of use but also  the potential to create new revenue streams.

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