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Prime Focus Technologies (PFT): Pioneering ERP in the M&E industry with CLEAR

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Prime Focus Technologies (PFT) is the technology subsidiary of Prime Focus, one of the leading global companies in media and entertainment industry. We spoke to T Shobhana, Vice President & Head, Global Marketing & Communications, Prime Focus Technologies to find out more at NAB 2016.


Q: What is PFT showcasing at NAB this year?

A: The Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry faces several challenges when it comes to meeting the ever-growing demands of today’s digital consumer. New entrants are challenging traditional service providers, new technologies enabling over the top (OTT) and revenue opportunities making them DIGITAL companies, and opening new geographies faster for distribution. M&E enterprises need to transform quickly into digital companies, managing customer, social and digital assets, and improve consumer engagement.

At NAB 2016, we are unveiling exciting new features for our flagship CLEAR Media ERP suite: DAX® Production Cloud — a single software to manage Dailies and Post Servicing Workflows; Amazon Optimizer, a solution that reduces the cost of transcoding for broadcasters and content owners, while increasing efficiencies; Promo Versioning Automation module for Adobe Premiere Pro CC, which allows end-to-end business process orchestration for promo creation; and lastly, Compliance Data Model, part of Cloud MAM module, which enhances the compliance led content preparation process.

Our theme this year is to urge M&E organizations to Be Bold & Take the Leap, adopting ONE software for the enterprise, and bidding farewell to smaller, standalone systems for media asset management (MAM). We will be showcasing how CLEAR, loaded with brand new features can make this possible.

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Q: Does PFT have a theme at NAB this year? Last year was ‘Digital Next’ Realities. What is the business reason behind the theme this year?

A: Consumers today have a variety of content to choose from, as well as the choice of viewing it when and how they want. The ability to reach out to them and engage them is crucial for all M&E enterprises. In other words, Media ERP must be looked at as the very heart of an organization, a strategic decision that keeps the business ticking. If content enterprises have to win secure some of that future revenue, they need to embrace transformation, and they need to do this NOW!

That’s why our theme for NAB this year is the daring proposition to Be Bold & Take the Leap. Be Bold and Take the Leap is a battle cry for M&E enterprises to build a digital ecosystem, breaking free from isolated MAM systems and content silos. It is to urge M&E enterprises to adopt centralization and deploy ONE software across the whole enterprise.

Traditionally, global media enterprises use multiple, localized, non-scalable digital asset management systems across different departments and locations, which lead to additional cost and effort. Production workflows use one system where dailies & cuts are viewed and distributed for review. Promo workflows receive offline support through a different system. Finished content workflows are managed within the Broadcast Operations department in a whole new system. Digital departments are now emerging as an entirely new silo, to publish content on OTT platforms or deal with digital distribution. At Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), we call this ‘Islands of Automation’.

M&E enterprises need to Be Bold and move from Islands of Automation to ONE software for the enterprise. They need to Take the Leap, adopting the clever use of technology to digitize their enterprise, automate and build a connected ecosystem. And this is what CLEAR helps achieve. It drives creative enablement, enhances operational efficiencies, helps realize faster time-to-market and boosts monetization opportunities.

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Q: Tell us in detail about the new product announcements

A: We could not be more excited to showcase the wide range of announcements at NAB:

DAX® Production Cloud: Enterprises can now store, manage, transcode and deliver content for production, marketing and distribution across the entire supply chain. DAX® Production Cloud allows enterprises to use the same system to manage Dailies and Post Servicing Workflows. Which means, stakeholders across the production supply chain — On-set, editorial, VFX (pull downs), marketing (trailers), localization vendors, distribution (screeners) — all collaborate on the same software. DAX® Production Cloud eliminates silos at all stages (pre prod, prod and post) by providing access to content at all times with Metadata access across content life cycle. It becomes the ONE system to store, manage, transcode and deliver content across the production supply chain.

Amazon Optimizer allows content owners to quickly repurpose content for distribution to web, mobile, VoD & IPTV platforms in a cost-efficient way. Amazon Optimizer leverages the scalability and cost efficiencies of public cloud and can deliver file-based video transcoding, auto quality control and compute intensive media processing tasks at the lowest total cost on the market. PFT Operations Cloud uses a clever algorithm, built by 47Line to optimally use a mix of reserved, on-demand and spot instances on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to meet the service level agreement (SLA) at the lowest cost.

Promo Versioning Automation Module: Part of CLEAR Broadcast Cloud, this module provides an end-to-end workflow for promo creation, including work orders, seamless integration with Broadcast Management Software (BMS), review and approval processes, post-production, versioning and hand-off for play-out. Extending the hybrid cloud capability, the module leverages Adobe Premiere Pro CC installations at Broadcast Networks and automates the process of generating ‘versions’ using Adobe Media Encoder CC rendering.

Compliance Data Model: Part of CLEAR Cloud MAM, this functionality enhances the compliance led content preparation process. Through the Compliance Data Model, users will no longer be required to catalog assets multiple times for the same compliance parameter across various profiles. Instead, the user will be able to catalog once for each parameter, tied to each individual profile, and generate edit decision lists (EDL) as required for specific certifications.

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Q: I have heard of DAX®. How is DAX different from DAX® Production Cloud?

A: DAX® has become an industry standard — nearly all Hollywood blockbusters and Network TV shows use it to collaborate on pre-released content, especially for review and approval. DAX® has recently gone through a significant upgrade with some powerful additions to the software. With this upgrade and expanded functionalities, we now call this, DAX® Production Cloud.

DAX® Production Cloud allows users to deploy the same system to manage both Dailies and Post Servicing Workflows. Which means, stakeholders in the Production Supply Chain — On-set, editorial, VFX (pull downs), marketing (trailers), localization vendors, distribution (screeners) – all collaborate on the same software. DAX® Production Cloud eliminates silos at all stages (pre prod, prod and post) by providing access to content at all times with Metadata access across content life cycle. It offers ONE system to store, manage, transcode and deliver content across the production supply chain.

DAX® Production Cloud, the improved version of DAX® will offer customers unmatched experience through new UI, better collaboration by integrating Hi-Res and Proxy workflows, streaming & transcoding capabilities and richer MAM. It is loaded with additional features & functionalities making it bigger, better and smarter — Ability to manage RAW and Hi-Res workflows; On-demand Cloud Transcoding; Clip-based workflows for easier uploads and playlist creation; Advanced, secure sharing tools; Greatly improved multi-bitrate streaming; Fully customizable dashboards and advanced reporting & more. It continues to have a 24/7 support team, which can also handle all administration.

Q: Has the adoption of ERP been met with positive reactions in the M&E industry?

A: In this ‘Digital Next’ era, where traditional revenues are shrinking, and costs are increasing on the back of digital endeavours, there is an increased awareness among M&E enterprises that the future of content management is dependent on an ERP solution.

On an average, broadcast networks spend nearly 9% of their budget on technology. With our ERP software, we bring that down to less than 4%. For a major M&E company, working with billions of dollars in IT budget, that’s millions in savings.

But this is not the only benefit of embracing an ERP suite. Breaking free from content silos and standalone MAMs to deploy ONE software across the enterprise literally reinvents the way an organization works. It drives creative enablement, enhances operational efficiencies, helps realize faster time-to-market and boosts monetization opportunities. Our engagements have helped content enterprises digitally transform their businesses by cutting as much as 30% costs and gaining 40% efficiencies.

Q: The journey to digital transformation: Can you give us 2 examples of customers who have Been Bold and Taken the Leap to transform their business?

A: Content owners are fast realizing that they can no longer live in the analog age or choose to selectively be digital. And we at PFT are happy to have helped some of the world’s largest content enterprises embrace digital transformation successfully. Some of our customers are listed below:

Cricket Australia (CA): CLEAR’s Cloud MAM was deployed by Cricket Australia (CA), the national governing body for cricket in Australia, to help consolidate and safeguard its growing portfolio of audio-visual content, effectively service existing and emerging distribution channels, manage metadata and lay a strong foundation to better monetize content. Thanks to CLEAR, CA enjoys the reduction of physical media, automation of distribution servicing requests, increased process efficiency and improved media asset management capabilities.

Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE): To achieve the necessary speed and volume of content managed, CLEAR Media ERP Suite will serve as a hub for a variety of content from production houses, distributors and agencies into a central cloud, called GEE Digital Automation Servicing Hub (DASH) before client and consumer distribution through a Global Delivery Network. With CLEAR, GEE executives are able to perform a range of workflow functions once content is ingested into the DASH. A central cloud-based hub has been created for GEE to manage content from production houses, distributors and agencies before distribution across the globe.

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