Mining the archive
Library content is one of the most valuable assets a producer or broadcaster can own. And its uses go far beyond simply having some extra footage to add to future programs. Such is the fragmentation of the viewing audience these days that an archive of clips or programs can be exploited, repurposed, reused, re-edited, sold, clipped and repackaged for a multitude of uses and a variety of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to PCs and televisions.
It’s a potential gold mine, but one that can be benefited from only if the original content is accessible, easy to find and available quickly. This pretty much rules out the old school option of sticking content in an old aircraft hangar somewhere.
It’s not just archive footage that can (and needs to) be exploited in this way either. It’s that cheesy “make once, use often” mantra that you hear a lot about during trade shows.
The thing is, although content owners realize that their sound and pictures are valuable, many don’t know how to go about successfully exploiting them. Legacy workflows (and systems) mean that content is often not created efficiently enough to facilitate this approach, and, as a result, when current footage becomes archive footage, the opportunities are lost too. This is where digital comes in.
The general approach to “going digital” for many has been to devise a bespoke solution featuring different systems and technologies, protocols and conventions that happen to suit a particular environment.
Unfortunately, although this might work on a general level, often it simply replicates a tape-based way of working, replacing the videotape with a file-based medium of choice. This can make media delivery more complicated and may even negate the time and cost-savings advantages that a digital workflow potentially brings.
At the same time, there is rarely any budget available to deliver any extra versions of content or to digitize an archive. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, broadcasters are starting to specify that programs should be delivered as files and not tape.
All of this leaves content owners with a bit of a conundrum.