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What digital media means for the AV industry, with Craig Frankenstein

Business June 13, 2017

Surely, you've heard it before: Print is dead.

It's not. Not completely, anyway.

But, businesses and organizations continue to move away from the medium in favor of cloud-based and digital media solutions to manage and deliver their content, like audio, video and more. And not without good reason.

Upward of 96 percent of business-to-business organizations use video in some way to communicate their messages to others, with almost 75 percent reporting a positive ROI. That's because video makes content easy to digest, and it resonates with viewers in ways a static image or text doesn’t. Similar evidence can be seen with podcasts numbers, as download requests and hosting are increasing year over year, according to the Pew Research Center.

[Also read: What video chat for business solution is right for you?]

Even though print is still around, digital media is the way most people consume content today, said Craig Frankenstein, digital media practice manager at AVI Systems. “Digital media has become the format in which we deliver messages," he said. "We no longer have tangible media. It’s not print, it’s not mailers, it’s not the newspaper anymore -- [digital media is] how we get our message across.”

Investigative podcasting and snappy videos have flourished online and on social media, which has led businesses to invest more into these relatively inexpensive forms of media. However, it's not without its challenges. Storing and maintaining hours of audio and video content can be difficult if the infrastructure isn't in place.

And since there is still value in print media, especially with highly engaged consumers, organizations are caught in a transition between the two worlds, leaving some without the digital businesses solutions needed to safely store all of this content.

Frankenstein talks about the challenges and solutions that have surfaced during the transition away from print and onto digital, and explains what that means for AV professionals.


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“People are shifting to centralized production because they get a lot more use out of the more expensive pieces of equipment,” Thielen said. “[Midco Sports Network] also can do a better production, because the crew stays back home, and they’ve got a little better working environment and a little more time to prepare for stuff.”


What role does digital media play in the AV industry?

"So if we talk about digital media as a practice, we realize that high-quality video and social media have proven to be effective ways for an organization to engage," Frankenstein said. "We want to target multiple areas in that pipeline. We’re looking at taking digital signage, digital streaming, post production, and unique applications and tying them all together into a portfolio solution."

"Rather than helping customers with one particular application, like digital signage, we want to engage them on a more holistic level. We want to help them bring their content in, safely store it, find it, and repurpose it."

What are some 'holistic' digital media solutions?

"Content is valuable," he said. "If a company owns its intellectual property, they want to repurpose that. There’s value in the content to them."

"Let’s take 3M as an example. They make a lot of products, they bring in tons of people to talk about the products internally, public-facing, training, externally; they have a lot of content that comes in, more than they’re able to manage on an individual level.

"So, they need to find a solution that’s going to allow them to safely capture the content on a format that makes sense for repurposing. They need to store it safely. They need to manage it, and they need to convert it into something for consumption. And that’s just one example. Take the Minnesota Vikings -- same thing. They had a need where the content was coming in, sitting on a hard drive, with no way to find the content other than searching through the file system.

"If a company owns its intellectual property, they want to repurpose that. There’s value in the content to them."

"The hard drives themselves started to fail, and they were at risk of losing content. Obviously, the Vikings as a brand is an extremely valuable brand, so the footage that was brought in from game day and their production studio, this stuff has to stay, it has to live on forever.

"We replaced the entire storage infrastructure. We more than quadrupled it in size to give them adequate capacity. We put in a disaster-recovering medium, meaning that everything that comes into their primary storage bucket is also duplicated on another stack on the other side of the building.

"In case there’s a catastrophe in the tech area where the storage lives, all that content is safely duplicated every single day at location number two. Ideally, they’ll never ever touch that content. It will always just be their safety blanket.

"And we also added a librarian on top of it, so that they can log content against the player, the opponent, the season, the date, the week, the type of play that happened, relevant information, keywords. We allow them to associate all this information against these clips to help them quickly find content."

Related: David Maldow gives solutions for 'Workflow Nirvana'

What's changed?

"Consumption determines how we have to prepare the content," he said. "Depending on who our target audience is, we have to prepare content for that medium. If you look previously at how we delivered video, it was always television. It was the only medium to deliver video for a long time."

"Content was brought in, recorded onto a video tape, it went into an edit bay, where they could edit that tape, and another tape came out of that edit bay and went to transmission.

"The process is similar, except now we have many more methods for capturing the video, including iPhones and small cameras that record all different formats, and we don’t have to take it into an edit bay with expensive equipment anymore.

"So does this change how we deliver our content, absolutely."

"You can actually record video right onto a phone and edit video on your iPhone and iPad and complete it right there. And rather than having to push it to a thousand-foot tower to get it out, we have the internet for delivery. And there’s many, many different platforms at our disposal for free – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram. There are plenty of platforms that we can deliver to in cost effective ways on the front end.

"The commoditization of cameras and capturing content and editing content has drastically changed how we acquire and the mediums of delivery, many of them are free. So does this change how we deliver our content, absolutely."

How does this affect AV professionals' daily work?

"Previously, the equipment was very expensive, and there were very few places in which you could record, edit and deliver content because of cost," Frankenstein explained.

"An edit suite was as much as a house, so with the commoditization of the hardware, and the inexpensive and/or free software available to craft the content and deliver mediums that are also free, like YouTube, Facebook, we can create and deliver content completely different. The challenges have changed in the sense that there’s an overabundance of content creation coming in.

"Now the challenge is we have an overabundance of video, where do we put it, how do we find it, so that we can repurpose the content?"

"If you go out and shoot a bunch of video, you come back with an SD card or hard drive. That’s the only place that content exists. And it’s probably named numerically, oo1.mov, 002.mov, 003.mov, with very little relevance, and people don’t hesitate to record many more times video than what they really need because it’s free.

"The medium itself is reusable and there’s no cost for recording one hour, five hours or 50 hours of video. It doesn’t cost any more to fill a whole SD card or just half a card. You’re just going to copy the files off, put them onto a hard drive and use that card all over again.

"So now the challenge is we have an overabundance of video, where do we put it, how do we find it, so that we can repurpose the content?"

What's a good approach to managing digital assets?

"What we try and identify is the objective of the content," Frankenstein said. "Why are we doing this? Is there a message we’re trying to convey and, if so, who’s the audience? So you step backward from there and you determine where is that content going to start, how are you going to manage that content in order to meet delivery requirements?"

"Knowing what our delivery requirements are should determine how we work backward from there. If we know this is going to be a gigantic, high-resolution presentation video, we’re not going to shoot it on an iPhone, so we want to organize an architect, a workflow to help customers work smart to meet their delivery requirements and allow them to repurpose this content."

Download the case study to learn about the benefits of a central production model.

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