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Telestream, a provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions, has announced that Visual Data Media Services, one of the largest media processing and distribution service companies in the world, is relying on intelligent workflow management provided by Telestream Vantage media processing platform to transform its business model. Using Vantage, Visual Data has created an assembly line approach to digital manufacturing that has improved its bottom line, and enabled the company to build substantial new revenue streams.
With major facilities in Burbank and London, Visual Data specializes in multichannel media management, localization and distribution, helping content owners get the right content, in the right language or format to the right place, correctly and on time. Their task is to manufacture video, audio and localized content and distribute it to any OTT, VOD, PPV, broadcaster, studio or content owner in any territory. The company’s suite of services includes video encoding, transcoding, editing, color correction, finishing, QC, localization, captioning, sound and digital delivery.
Over the last few years, Visual Data’s strategy has shifted from being a physical media company into becoming a more dynamic digital service provider, offering more than just innovative digital supply chain solutions. The company has been extremely focused on developing best-in-class self-serve tools for its clients to use with its new multi-tenant, client-branded asset management portal. Tools like pre-configured platform specific transcode profiles, social media publishing, review and approval and digital delivery for hundreds of clients will all be a reality, as Steve Spear, VP of Operations in Burbank, explains:
“Over the last decade or so, the business of tape has been drying up to such an extent that we decided to merge our duplication operations with our digital operations department. It was a success that we attribute to the depth of knowledge, experience and ‘get it done’ attitude of our digital team. We had to do this because the business landscape has changed. The demand for one-to-one dubbing has migrated to having to take one master file and transform it into many variations, audio configurations, frame rates and codecs for domestic and international distribution to all major nonlinear retail platforms and broadcast providers, including some regional requirements in the UK for delivery to the DPP format.”
“The work involved often includes very detailed specification of file formats, video encoding parameters, audio encoding and track layout, formatting (bars, tone, etc.) plus the addition of closed captions and subtitles, depending on the end market,” adds Spear.
The team at Visual Data typically has to deal with hundreds of variants in how master files are delivered to them, and they experience enormous unpredictability in workloads. Given the complexity of their services, and the volatility of workloads, a highly efficient, workflow orchestrated automated eco-system is the only way that they can provide the level of service, as well as, manage the scalable demands that their clients expect.
Visual Data looked outside of the video industry for ideas and took inspiration from the self-checkout systems used in supermarkets, where one cashier manages multiple checkout lanes. They discovered that the key to their business success lies in top-notch talent working in parallel with a highly automated media-processing platform to facilitate the daily redundant “rinse and repeat” tasks. By utilizing pre-configured workflows, the heavy lifting is removed from the operator’s plate, freeing up their time to manage more “check-out lanes.”
Telestream’s Vantage media processing platform provides the intelligent workflow management behind the scenes for Visual Data. The unique “variable values” and decision logic in the Vantage workflow tools allow the system to adapt dynamically to customer requirements. In effect, Vantage can “think”, avoiding the need for work to stop for a human to intervene, which costs time and money.
Steve Spear said that Vantage has been the key technology enabler behind Visual Data and its rapid business growth. Visual Data uses other Telestream products in critical parts of its services. MacCaption aids them in their extensive localization services for componentizing and embedding closed caption and subtitle files. Vidchecker is the QC product of choice in their London center, helping Visual Data comply with strict standards such as the UK DPP formats and legal requirements to check for PSE flash patterns. On the topic of quality assurance, some aspects of QA still require a human being to watch and listen to the program. The QA department at Visual Data relies on the Telestream Switch player to view finished masters and perform their checks on legal/cultural compliance and playability.
Spear sees some nascent growth in 4K, UHD, IMF and H.265 deliverables as well, and expects the volume of files to grow rapidly in the next twelve months. Because Vantage is ready to handle these formats, Visual Data and their systems are poised and ready for whatever comes through the door in the coming years.