Ingest orchestration is the term we use to describe the automation we can apply to the various workflow steps that we carry out when ingesting your content from tape to digital files.
There are a range of orchestration tool sets that we employ at LMH to perform particular processes in our library migration workflow. These help us to make the process more efficient, which will deliver cost savings for our clients. And they will deliver a higher quality end product, because they can flag up issues where files don’t comply with the defined standards of the project, and can also channel particular files into the correct workflow such as transcoding to a required codec.
One of the key ingest orchestration tools we use at LMH is a product developed by Transmedia Dynamics (TMD), called MediaFlex. MediaFlex provides a really robust platform for us to perform modelling and allows us to automatically execute media-specific processes.
We use this system to control all of our tape ingest estate: the Flexicart, the VTRs and the encoders. MediaFlex also performs indexing of all the different file types used in a typical packaging workflow such as video, audio, subtitles, closed captions, graphics, and documents.
Alongside various of our own in-house systems that we have built around Google Data Studio, MediaFlex also allows our production management team to monitor key business analytics in our workflows. These are crucial as we use them to identify trends, issues, and operational metrics in all aspects of our business workstreams.
Using MediaFlex and other orchestration tool sets, we are able to build workflows that can perform mass media sifting, processing and delivery workflows using API control of devices including Vidchecker, Telestream Vantage and Aspera or Signiant.
And utilising the shallow dive capability of automated QC tools, we can construct sifting systems that help us identify the technical aspects of an undefined set of incoming assets. That allows the system to accurately direct the flow of data into the appropriate onward process, such as transcoding and delivery to different platforms at the specific codec required.
SERVOLOCK is another example of the additional upgrades we have introduced here at LMH through our collaboration with TMD. It helps us with one of the key decisions that have to be made when digitising tapes: namely when to start and stop recording. Left to a manual process, this can be extremely laborious and potentially expensive. This may sound like a simple task when thinking about one or two tapes. But multiply that into the thousands and it soon becomes clear that researching the correct ‘In’ and ‘Out’ points (or SOM and EOM – start of media and end of media) by human eye is quickly going to become time-consuming and costly.
Instead, we use SERVOLOCK to enable the orchestration system to detect dedicated control signals from the VTR. These signals are unique to the presence of coherent content. We can use these signals – once they have been present for a long enough period to indicate the start of content on the tape – to trigger the system to record. And vice versa, when the signals are no longer present, recording is stopped. This allows us to guarantee all content is captured without any manual intervention. Not only does this save money up front, it also removes the risk of human error.
This fail-safe, automated method of starting and stopping recording of content is particularly beneficial in the case of archive collections, where preserving everything from the source assets is often a must. Of course, we need to balance data storage costs: the files that the automation produces can be longer and therefore larger than if an operator was assessing the content by eye for the best place to start and stop recording. For that reason, manual handling of SOM/EOM is still a valid approach, albeit one that will attract a higher up-front cost.