Sony is introducing a comprehensive response to the business issues facing professionals in the content creation market. The Media Backbone family will link the various devices and solutions used throughout a production workflow, from the ingest to the archiving stages, providing centralized network-based management of AV files and metadata; and fully exploiting the advantages of file-based operation.
â€œWhere traditionally Sony has focused on providing standalone devices to this market, we are now offering solutions that will provide a framework for connecting devices and services,â€? said Steve Stubelt, director of Sony Electronicsâ€™ Systems Solutions Group.
The Media Backbone includes a range of hardware and software products to support the filed-based operating needs of customers in the content creation market. It combines Sony’s deep technological expertise in the AV area with IT-based systems provided by Sony and other manufacturers. It can also link services and solutions to company-wide enterprise systems (such as SAP systems) to support comprehensive efficiency. The architecture does not differentiate against products from other manufacturers; rather it is designed to present solutions to meet customer needs on all types of products and systems.
â€œSony played a leading role in helping the production industry transition from traditional AV to file-based workflows, and with the creation of all these files, or assets, has come the need for effective file management,â€? Stubelt said. â€œThatâ€™s a main concept behind Media Backbone. But providing complete file management solutions also denotes more than just architecture. It also encompasses consultation, implementation, follow-up maintenance, and more.â€?
As part of this initiative, Sony will introduce the following new software products at NAB 2010:
â€¢ Media Backbone Conductor: A platform designed to make workflows visible at the system level, so that they can be carried out more efficiently and treated as regular business processes.
â€¢ Media Backbone Ensemble: Software solutions designed specifically to provide efficient management of ingest and archive workflows, working in conjunction with the Media Backbone Conductor and platforms from other manufacturers.
The Media Backbone Conductor (MBC) is built using service-oriented architecture (SOA), a design approach widely and successfully used in the IT field. SOA is specifically designed to allow for integration among disparate systems, and is designed to make the MBC work efficiently with systems from other manufacturers.
AV files are shared among services through use of a “Media Bus” network and storage system. Sony’s original Media Bus Management functionality supports high-performance and efficient usage and management of AV files within the Media Bus.
SOA does not rely on fixed systems and specific environments; instead, it uses standardized interfaces to integrate disparate applications and services so as to better and more flexibly meet customer requirements. Each application or service may be considered as a single component. SOA gives users the flexibility to use these components together in any desired combination. This makes it easier to adapt to the rapid technology changes in the IT field, since users are able to add new components and discard outmoded ones without incurring significant rebuilding costs. The SOA approach is an excellent choice not only for users in the content creation market, but for all enterprises considering the deployment of new IT systems.
SOA is an open platform that works with all components and services equipped with standardized interfaces. An SOA-based system will work not only with Sony products, but also with products from competitors.
SOA deployments are now making inroads in many business areas. A major issue in the content creation business, howeverâ€”and one which sets it apart from other businessesâ€”is the large size of the AV files that must be handled. The Media Backbone Conductor uses the Media Bus network and storage systems, allowing services to smoothly access and share these large files. Sony also provides an originally developed Media Bus Management facility designed specifically to enable efficient operation and management of these files within the Media Bus. This setup makes it possible, for example, to maintain efficiency when carrying out time-consuming transmissions of large files (with the ability to resume a transmission in the event of an interruption); to prioritize AV file transmissions, and to queue jobs (using interrupts).
The Media Backbone Ensemble (MBE) is software designed specifically to provide efficient management of ingest and archive workflows, working in conjunction with the Media Backbone Conductor and platforms from other manufacturers.
MBE coordinates relevant services on the network, allowing for centralized management of file updates (in the database), final versions, and archiving. Different video system support different sets of codecs and formats. Differences also occur at the editing stage. Many different NLE applications are currently in use (including Avid, Quantel, Apple, etc.), and each uses it own methods for storing metadata.
MBE integrates with both Sony and non-Sony ingest engines, and supports a wide variety of codecs, formats, and metadata standards. It can convert ingested assets into a variety of different codecs, formats, and metadata standards and then send the results to the editing process. MBE is designed to be compatible with a variety of NLE applications.
â€¢ Implements database management of high-res AV files, low-res AV files generated from high-res files, and metadata, and it moves data into and out of a tape library (high-capacity digital-tape storage device).
â€¢ Implements a search engine that can search archived assets. Users at NLE terminals can use MBE to search for online and archived material, to preview low-res AV files, and to view metadata.
â€¢ Automatically transmits found video in accordance with transmission directives. For example, it can find a high-res AV file in the tape library, and send that file to an editor working at an NLE terminal. In general, MBE enables efficient archiving operations.
ELLCAMI: A High-Speed Ingest and Transcode Engine
A key hardware component of the Media Backbone architecture is â€œELLCAMI,â€? a resolution-independent multi-format ingest and transcoding platform. Based on Sonyâ€™s Cell processor technology, with up to 128 cores per workstation, each system can be configured to meet a number of challenges faced by broadcasters and post production facilities.
This high-speed processor can rapidly ingest video in a range of formats and resolutions (from 4K to proxy), can process and convert this video without reducing quality, and can output the results in a variety of ways.
The ELLCAMI system is a high-speed platform with up to eight baseband I/O ports (4 HD-SDI inputs, 4 HD-SDI outputs, ans support for dual-link). It delivers high-speed ingest from up to four VTRs at a time; it can process and convert a wide variety of baseband and file-based formats, from 4K to proxy, while maintaining the original quality; and it can output results in a variety of ways.
The ELLCAMI system can control and simultaneously digitize content from two VTRs using double-speed dual link, or from four VTRs through HD-SDI or SDI connection. In addition to high-speed ingest, it also provides file-based transcoding at resolutions up to 4K.
The platform can automatically detect dark frames and other file errors, reducing the time required for visual error checking. When used with multi-client software, multiple users can carry out ingest and transcoding work at the same time. ELLCAMI supports the following formats: DPX, OpenEXR, JPEG 2000 (Lossless and Lossy), MPEG2 Long GOP, VC-3, BMP, WAV, BWF. Additional formats will be supported via future software upgrades.
â€œAs a company that fully understands the workflows and needs of our customers in the content creation market, Sony is uniquely qualified to provide optimal solutions that will deliver new efficiencies to file-based operations and IT-based business processes,â€? Stubelt said.