Post Magazine

August 2012

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cloud workflow Delivering spot content to many screens via the cloud By RANDI ALTMAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF raltman@postmagazine.com N EEDHAM, MA — We no longer live in a world where a company's video advertising message can only be seen on TV. There are now a variety of mediums: from televisions to computers to mobile phones to tablets to in-store kiosks. The list goes on. Compared to the rich history of TV adver- tising and its 50 years of standards and best practices relating to getting a brand's message out to an audience, this is a new frontier. Extreme Reach (www.extremereach. com), headquartered here, is doing its part to solve the problem of lack of standards and fragmented workflow by offering a software-as-a-service (SAAS) platform that brings together agencies and advertisers, and helps them manage this process — taking their video ad message and delivering that across all available screens. "Our platform is used by more than 2,500 advertisers and agencies for ad distribution and ad serving of video commercials on broadcast TV, online video, mobile social media, all sorts of different destinations where that video message could play," explains Dan- iel Brackett, CTO, and one of the company's four co-founders, all of whom were at Fast- Channel Network in early the 2000s. They created Extreme Reach at the end of 2008. "Essentially, with one partner, they have their video commercial delivered worldwide, with comprehensive metadata information about those commercials, including talent and rights management details, in this one plat- form — one package that can help them manage their message and deliver their mes- sage," he says. Daniel Brackett likens Nirvanix to a local hardware store, where you know the people, and they do a great job day in and day out. The metadata that travels with these files includes production, talent and rights informa- tion provided by the agency/advertiser, but also specs assigned at the post house, such as SMPTE timecode, spot length, HD format and more. All the video asset information is captured with Extreme Reach's software and follows the video throughout its life cycle. The finished com- mercials are digitally uploaded from whatever editing system is being used, including native formats out of Final Cut, Avid, Premiere Pro, as well as the standard MPEG format. Those commercials are then uploaded directly into Extreme Reach's cloud platform, which uses two different cloud storage pro- viders at multiple geographic locations. This way, each file ingested is stored in redundancy 20 Post • August 2012 across different platforms, through both pro- viders. They call on Nirvanix and Amazon S3 solutions. "Those assets are uploaded from the post houses who are given an Extreme Reach software app; they can just drop that file into a folder right out of their system, editing and it immediately gets uploaded to our platform," explains Brackett. "We then run it through a 22-point auto- mated QC pro- cess using multiple QC automation technologies." Their quality includes control checking video and audio levels, chroma and spot length, as well as proper slate information. "We have a very precise upload format, and we work with every post house to get them certified," explains Brackett. "But generally they dial that in at their editing station and it becomes a template. We make sure they are uploading to that exact specification and are testing the right balance. Typically, they can use an existing standard template to export the commercial in the right format." THE CLOUD Extreme Reach manages custom video for- mat profiles for all of the different destinations in their digital network and makes sure the files they receive are a one-generation transcode directly from the high-quality master into the format the recipient requires. "So the post house focuses on what they do well — the finishing work, getting the commercial to look great and sound great — they then get it to us and we give them confirmation that they've done it properly. We take it from there. " Why two different companies for cloud storage? "We store every file redundantly across them for 100 percent up-time reliability, and we have a geographically diverse model as well," says Brackett. "So a post house will always upload to a location that is closest to them; we are trying to make the process as fast and www.postmagazine.com Post houses use Extreme Reach's software app with drag-and-drop ease. and Amazon because they are "the best of breed in terms of top-tier cloud storage service providers. They know how to operate a very secure, robust, highly reliable storage environ- ment. We are dealing with Terabytes and Tera- bytes of data files that need to be stored and managed, and we are moving vast amounts of content in and out of the cloud every day. Folks like Nirvanix help us focus on what we do well. They provide us excellent service and a great SLA. We want to have a great robust platform we can integrate seamlessly into our solution, and it works very well for us." This allows Extreme Reach to focus on their core competency and leverage these providers to supply top-tier technology and service. Brackett reports that when he was at FastChannel, they ran their own storage infra- structure, "spending half a million dollars to buy a giant appliance that would fill up and then buy another. One of the advantages of the cloud is you are benefitting from the economies of scale of another company, he says. "That is why Amazon got into it. They had excess capacity running their own busi- ness, and they were able to monetize and sell that excess capacity." Nirvanix is a more specialized provider, he reports. "They are creating vast storage continued on page 55 seamless as possible. If they are in LA, they don't have to cross-country upload to NY, for example. The goal is to make sure they get it out of their hands to us, confirmed and QC'd as quickly as possible so they can move on." According to Brackett, they chose Nirvanix

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