AUGUST 31, 2020

Future-Proofing Your Media Archive for Long-Term Monetization

working with archived media

What if you’re sitting on a gold mine of digital media assets and don’t even know it?

With a robust media archive, your media files will be more secure and accessible for the long term. Without one, you risk throwing away money at some point in the future, especially if some of that media grows in value over time.

For instance, through a combination of syndication, reruns, and lasting popularity, the Seinfeld franchise has earned a staggering $3 billion since 1995, according to CNBC. Each time someone new buys the rights to show that content, you can be certain they’re reaching back into the show’s archival vaults for the best possible media.

But with the media, their codecs, and the associated metadata to consider, effectively maintaining a media archive is easier said than done. The variety of media assets for any project has grown exponentially, coming from sources such as lower-cost cameras, mobile devices, and automated studio cameras, on top of traditional media content from satellite, tape, and disk. Each of these will have their own combo of codecs, file wrappers, and resolutions, plus a variety of metadata which may or may not accompany all of these assets.

In 20 years’ time, how will you find that one clip of that one person saying that one sound bite, instantly and from anywhere, in an accessible format that’s ready to be played back and sold? Or, maybe more simply: in 10 years, when you buy your first 8K TV, will you be able to watch your favorite episode of Seinfeld on it, in glorious 8K, because their media archivist did a good job?

To achieve a monetizable, future-proofed media archive, your team needs a clear strategy. Here’s how to handle taxonomy and storage and ensure that whatever media you may need stays accessible.

Thorough Taxonomy

Successfully archiving media files requires a consistent plan for logging, tagging, and categorizing the content. The taxonomy needs to be accurate, detailed enough to be useful, and consistently deployed across the entire library so searching through it is a comprehensive experience. And that tagging needs to be affordably produced.

Traditional approaches often rely on manual data entry, which is prone to human error and overall makes for an expensive and time-consuming methodology. One solution is to leverage the power of AI or machine learning to automate much of this process. AI can help with extracting and cataloging file or data feed metadata, and by leveraging scene recognition, facial recognition, and speech-to-text transcription.

As you can imagine, this isn’t a simple process to build from scratch, and many of these technologies are still being refined. But automation should still play a role in reducing the time and effort necessary for accurate metadata extraction—which makes your library more searchable and, ultimately, monetizable.

Long-Term Storage

Consider the requirements for media files in terms of their immediate, short-term, and longer-term storage. The storage needs to be secure, redundant, and dynamic enough that it can expand (and contract) as the media archive requires. Consider automation here, too, leaning on user-defined terms to automatically migrate assets from the most expensive storage tiers to the least expensive tiers of storage as required.

Also take into account longer-term archiving: plan for the costs associated with cloud storage, which lets the team easily share content across multiple sites and migrate content from LTO libraries to the cloud.

Convenient Access

As you develop a strategic approach to how the team will access content, remember the lessons of this pandemic-fueled year. Giving local, multisite, and remote teams access to content from anywhere is critical. Media companies may continue to weigh the benefits of the cloud against the costs, but the past few months have shown that making content readily available from anywhere drives higher efficiency, promotes collaboration, and allows media companies to leverage all their assets into vital revenue.

Make a point to review the technology emerging around how media might be stored in the future. Also keep an eye on new standards that will enable content to be accessed long term. For example, look to ACES, an industry standard that deploys a future-proof color pipeline that can protect assets for years to come.

A comprehensive plan for archiving media files helps the team work better in the here and now and lets media live up to its full potential for the future. If your video is left sitting—whether in a tape library or spinning storage, on-prem or in the cloud—without the necessary metadata that allows it to be quickly and easily found, it can’t be a monetizable asset paying its own way. Formalize your strategy so that your media can become more than data filling up a drive.

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