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Tuesday 13 March 2018

Third year Media Technology students were joined today by Sean Lancastle to talk about Media Asset Management (MAM) systems. Sean was formerly a member of the academic team at Solent before forming a broadcast training consultancy called Media Technology Training as well as working for Bristol University. Through his consultancy work, Sean has trained engineers on the use and maintenance of a number of MAM systems and he came to share some of his insights with our current undergraduates.

Modern production and playout facilities have to deal with a huge number of versions for each piece of content, with different compliance levels that are sympathetic to the cultural and religious preferences of the different playout regions as well as local language variants. MAM systems are used to organise the assets and to track them through their lifecycle from ingest to archive. They are vital to ensure that the assets are of a suitable quality and that the correct variants are played out for each destination.

As well as having to process more variants, the commercial pressures facing organisations have also increased in recent years making it important for them to be able to automate as much of the process as possible. Meanwhile legal agreements and legislative requirements demand detailed logs of system actions and performance.

Automation often causes traditional roles to change and this is certainly true within broadcast facilities. Sean spoke about the number of engineers employed by organisations to maintain the MAM system and highlighted the range of skills required to so; such roles demand a good grounding in computing and networking but also require a ‘broadcast mind-set’. A good engineer must understand how the sub-processes within the workflow interrelate as well as the nuances that are unique to media content and signal flows. It is for this reason that the Media Technology Programme combines computing, networking and electronics with traditional broadcast skills to create media aware technologists that are well-suited to the modern workplace.

Students explore the workflow in terms of series and parallel paths such as those found on a railway network