What is a MAM (Media Asset Management) solution?
Types of MAM
So. What is a MAM? The first thing to understand is the difference between a MAM and a DAM. The acronyms DAM and MAM seem to be used interchangeably, although they have very different applications. Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a document library focused on controlling, securing, finding, and leveraging communications content across an organization. DAM systems manage digital rights, enforce company restrictions on metadata and taxonomy, and optimize business processes, especially the interaction between individuals and departments, such as marketing communication, illustration and graphics projects. A subset of the DAM system is the PIM, a Product Information Manager dedicated to the marketing department as an assistant to displaying the proper message to the correct channel in a timely and management approved method. PIM systems often manage data import and data model formatting, and interface to a customer facing “portal.” Portals can be used for many different purposes, such as customer support, distributor communications and management, as well as media exchange between partners.
DAM systems do manage video and audio assets as a part of their library, but their tools and workflows are primarily designed for managing internal and external written communications or training media. Media Asset Management (MAM) on the other hand are often paired with DAM systems to extend their functionality to address media specific chores, such as multiple audio translations, technical versions such as standard definition, high definition and ultra-high definition media, subtitles, edited content versions, and distribution versions. MAM systems employ internal playback tools with more professional video and audio features, extended data models to cover many industry specific data resources, and workflows dedicated to media and entertainment business chores. MAM systems usually include hierarchical storage manager tools to control massive amounts of storage in tiers as the media is often in huge files, and by design are more complicated and video specific in their focus.
It is important to recognize that all MAMs are not the same, and while the language the marketers use to promote the products is often the same, broadcasters and media professionals can save themselves a lot of time and money by understanding the various types of MAMs and workflow tools available, and where a particular product provides the best solution. Some MAMs are optimized for linear network play-out, utilized for enhancing or extending a master control automation system. These dedicated MAMs support a linear channel and effectively automate a number of repetitive station tasks such as finding media on a dub list and preparing it from broadcast. They are architected to be workhorses and have solid integrations with the local automation and traffic systems. Typically, their drawback is a lack of flexibility, business analysis options or limits on their upgrade applications.
Production Asset Managers: PAMs are library systems that prepare production schedules and manage workflows to create versions of media, track version relationships and provide automated or manual quality control focused on a particular editing platform meet this essential need. Managing editing projects, “parent media” and all various “child” versions is of prime importance to production support software. These systems are often maximized to a particular editing toolset and have limited expansion capabilities, but what they do, they do extremely well.
The BPM MAM
Business Process Managers: Connecting an asset library to workflow engines for a network operation can bring solid benefits, especially in task management assigned to employees, automation of repetitive tasks and overall business analysis for the executive team. These systems are more flexible, customizable and provide more insight into large operations with reports and dashboards. A BPM MAM often integrates to traffic and work order systems, all internal systems including custom built products, and external systems for supplier input and distribution capabilities. If your goal is managing your employees better, understanding their workload and watching the bottom line, a BPM MAM can provide the task management by individual and user groups to control all segments of your company.
While many vendors will promote their software as an “enterprise” solution, only a very few actually have a system designed to support multi-site, multi-department, multi-tenant operations. Enterprise solutions build on BPM MAM tools and add the ability to scale throughput, manage millions of assets, workflows and users, and support unique, geographically dispersed operations. There are also specialized MAMs built as sports and live events logging tools, archive management systems, distributed production applications for TV Group operations, native automatically scaling cloud based systems, systems with internal programmable playlists—there are a number of specialized options available, each with particular benefits that may be meet a defined organizational requirement. Yet, specialization comes with a price, usually a limitation in one or more areas of the product.
The fundamentals of MAM technology
There are fundamentals of MAM technology that support automated and efficient workflows and are found in most, if not all of the MAM products available on the market today. Architecturally speaking, most modern systems supply a browser-based user interface which allows quick deployment of updates and the ability to “skin” the interface in a user’s language or save user specific screen controls. Object relational grid databases provide a fundamental library datamodel design that will allow true scaling of your metadata and the system, and leverage the functionality of modern database software such as the rich reporting tools now available.
The core of a MAM is its search engine, the system that quickly seeks and displays the media according to user requests. Most MAMs have adopted “google-like” search tools that automatically offer suggestions as the user types, drawing on an index of search criteria. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) can define special search criteria across millions of assets, often employing Boolean logic and wild cards, and many systems offer the user the ability to save unique searches for use at a later time. Some search engines have been enhanced with departmentalization strategies for assets, which is of great importance if the operation will manage millions of assets and associated files. Asset storage can be arranged in logical or physical storage, and systems can control media access with security measures.
The primary function of a MAM system is to bring media into the library in a controlled manner, allow management and enrichment of the assets by the library users, and then publish or distribute that media in many different ways in order to increase the monetization of the materials. The incoming process is called Ingest, and these capture workflows can be quite simple or multi-stepped with branching business logic to automate all possible acceptance of media deliveries. Typically ingest workflows will generate a reference “proxy” file, usually a frame accurate representation to the original media that allows annotations, and edit decision lists to be applied by a user to the original media. Some systems will normalize incoming media to a house standard video format, but many media executives prefer to keep the incoming asset in it most pure form, and they save the original file as it was received, using the proxy to drive editing and versioning workflows based on the original media.
Enriching media assets in a MAM includes adding metadata from multiple sources. Artificial Intelligence systems can automatically annotate every frame of a file or program, convert the audio tracks into scripts, automatically mark points of interest such as product placements and on-screen graphics, etc. Automated quality control systems can annotate the proxy file with technical and visual data based on the testing criteria. Descriptive metadata can be translated into many languages, and added to the database referencing to the original media file. Audio versions, such as stereo pairs, 5.1 surround sound and Dolby ATMOS, and foreign language translations can be associated with the original media, and the video can be marked for edits to align to the new translations as well as subtitles. High Dynamic Resolution technical data can be added to the media asset and referenced in the MAM. Unique business requirements drive the enrichment process, and the MAM is receptacle for these enhancements and the maintenance of their connections to the original media files.
Publishing, or export of the assets from the library is another fundamental function of the MAM. Leveraging integrations with third party tools such as watermarking software, Digital Rights Management, video format transcoders, etc., allows MAM/workflow technology to maximize the versions the assets can take upon export, and most of these functions are automatable in current technology. The publish function of MAMs has been an industry focus for years, driving innovation to reduce labor and increase speed and efficiency for servicing social media, streaming services, video on demand and over the top services. Publishing can be as simple as a “drag-and drop” of a file to a new folder, or as complicated as managing thousands of profiles in third-party tools.
We hope you have a clearer idea of what is a MAM and its importance for transmission companies and media factories. Anyway, if you wish, we help you to find the best MAM configuration that suits your business. Do not hesitate to contact us!