Metadata’s profile rising for industry

May 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Columbia TriStar Television has begun the embryonic stages of implementing an asset management solution that could dramatically change the way the studio produces its shows.
The studio plans to begin using a metadata technology system it developed with Evertz for slateless production on high-definition programming, such as its “Odyssey V” for Showtime. Not only will the system save time, but it may also change the way people think about asset management and metadata, said Phil Squyres, senior VP technical operations at Columbia TriStar Television.
Asset management has traditionally been used as a catchphrase for a way to manage a library or an archive of existing assets, but Mr. Squyres and people in news businesses such as AP Broadcast believe the incorporation of metadata into their operations’ daily activities can significantly impact the daily production of TV shows and news gathering. Metadata is data about data, which could be something as simple as scene and take information to more complicated rights management details.
“I contend that we might be working toward a day when we don’t need to do slates,” Mr. Squyres said. “It takes time and effort-15 [seconds] to 30 seconds at the beginning of a shot to refocus, set the shots. We do it all the time, every time. It eats up time, eats up film and tape. If that could be captured automatically, think how much time you could save.”
That’s why Mr. Squyres has worked with Evertz, which makes equipment for film and TV production in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, to develop a solution that captures slate information nearly automatically. The take information is embedded automatically into the audio recorder, and the sound person only needs to input the scene number at the start of a new scene.
At the end of the shooting day, a script assistant could then select from a list on a computer all the circled, or good, takes. A tape could be made much more quickly of the circled takes in addition to the master tape. “At the end of the day, you walk away with all your dailies, so you know sooner if you have to reshoot and make plans for the next day,” said Joe Cirincione, Western regional sales manager for Evertz. “We’re not going to do away with anyone’s job but just make it easier.”
The system is the first step in capturing metadata in the production process, and Mr. Squyres expects to be able to attach all sorts of information in the next few years. Embedding metadata closer to the creation of video makes the management of assets much easier along the whole chain-from daily production to post-production to archiving. Such information could include performance notes, lens information, show title, episode number and camera ID, he said.
News outlets are also evaluating methods to make better use of metadata. An assignment desk culls information for stories, and that research could be considered metadata, said Mike Palmer, director of technology development for AP Broadcast. He wants to find ways to move that metadata from the assignment desk out to the field and then back to the video server once it comes back into the station, he said.
This could be accomplished by creating a unique ID for each story on a newsroom computer system. When the tape returns to the station, the user simply clicks on the story ID while using the video server to link the video with the research, or metadata. AP Broadcast will have some installations in use enabling these capacities by the end of the year, he said.
DreMedia believes the process can be even easier. The company’s t-m Production Suite for newsrooms can categorize and insert metadata into incoming video because its software understands the video and text it reads through speech recognition tools, said Matt Karas, CEO of DreMedia in London.
If a wireless phone were connected to a laptop computer and that computer was connected to the archives back at the station, a journalist could access the archive from the field, he said. In turn, the metadata for the incoming story would be embedded immediately by the laptop to the camera as the video comes in. “It’s a philosophical approach and is changing the very nature of what people consider to be an archive,” Mr. Karas said.