TheStreet.com is a pioneering use of an affordable, browser-based media management system to create high-quality content on tight deadlines. They have implemented the axle Gear rackmount appliance, which at a cost of $10,000 and 1U of rack space, has been able to support a workflow with 15 reporters, producers and editors. They typify a new breed of content providers who are emerging worldwide, using state-of-the-art tools in place of complex legacy systems. Even nontechnical staff members and freelancers are able to productively use the system with its intuitive, browser-based interface.
New York’s TheStreet.com is on the vanguard of direct-to-web media publishing - a site and online ‘channel’ devoted to Wall Street and investment-related news, 24/7. Located directly on Wall street, this company has built up the equivalent of a full on-air news operation with over 100 employees, delivering timely, incisive financial news and interviews to a global audience. They represent a high-profile example of how new niche media providers are emerging to supply demand for engaging, relevant content everywhere.
Brooke McDonald and Michael Brassert of Houpla Studios, who managed TheStreet’s rapid implementation of video technology, were able to build out the infrastructure from scratch without many of the legacy burdens of traditional broadcast organizations. Their end-to-end workflow begins with capture from NewTek’s TriCaster 8000 systems, and extends through an editing workflow of Adobe Premiere Pro CC running on Apple Mac Pro workstations, on a FibreChannel SAN backbone. Finished material is distributed through a variety of online partners by way of a Kaltura publishing system.
A key ingredient, however, was the needed ability to collaborate - between producers, reporters and editors – and to perform quick searches for material from previous shows and B-roll. For this task, a traditional MAM would have been too complex and expensive. Instead, Brassert and McDonald selected axle, a product which launched the previous year at IBC and had received a TVB Europe Best of Show award.
TheStreet.com was able to implement axle in its Gear configuration – effectively, two quad-core Intel Apple Mac minis, one running a database and filesystemcataloging engine, the other running Telestream’s Episode Pro transcoding software for proxy generation and repurposing. The system is scalable in that two or more Episode Pro nodes can easily be harnessed together for faster throughput, but the current configuration has proved fast enough to keep up with their media flow.
All media captured on the NewTek Tricasters and destined for on-air use is copied to the FibreChannel SAN, where it is immediately cataloged by axle Gear. Gear then automatically creates thumbnail images and streamable H.264 proxy media for each asset (and JPGs for still image assets and PDFs) as well as capturing as much technical metadata as possible including framerate, codec, aspect ratio and other information about the clip.
TheStreet.com have also configured axle Gear’s custom metadata fields, so that information about each clip can be easily entered early in the production process. This makes the media searchable by producers and reporters at any time. axle’s radically simple browser interface has meant that even reporters and other nontechnical staff, working in a fast-paced environment, are able to easily search for the content they need to put together upcoming segments.
Unlike traditional MAMs, axle Gear respects the folder structures and workflows already present on TheStreet.com’s shared storage. As a result, the team can supplement their searches with standard folder navigation, and are able to open files from standard applications like Premiere Pro and Photoshop CC, or Apple’s Final Cut Pro, without having to install finicky plug-in software and its associated headaches of incompatibilities and system dependencies. Reporters are able to create selects, enter their comments and approvals on media, and forward them to the editing team for further processing with NLEs.
Perhaps best of all, the complete installed cost of the axle Gear system for 15 users (covering the reporting and editorial team) was about $10,000, and it fits in just 1U of rack space –- a far cry from the cost (and bulk) of traditional MAM systems which are typically ten or more times more expensive.
While there are tens of thousands of media producers and outlets worldwide who could benefit from these kinds of capabilities, the cost and complexity of MAM systems have been a big hurdle to wider adoption. As a result, there are fewer than 5,000 MAM systems installed worldwide today despite the booming opportunity. We believe TheStreet.com points to a future where large amounts of video media can be efficiently captured, produced and managed by a wide and growing range of organizations, not just traditional broadcasters. For more information, contact: axle Video, LLC 38 the Fenway Boston, MA 02215 tel. 617-262-9222 fax 617-536-0657 www.axlevideo.com firstname.lastname@example.org