SVG Sit-Down: Levels Beyond CEO Art Raymond

Levels Beyond has been a hot name in video-library management and workflow software over the past couple of years, with UFC, NASCAR, and other major sports-media players tapping its Reach Engine product to handle media-management and -integration operations. Reach Engine allows these media outfits to ingest, organize, manipulate, replicate, variegate, and distribute digital assets quickly and at multiple locations.

SVG recently sat down with Levels Beyond CEO Art Raymond to chat about the company’s growing profile in sports production, its extensive collaboration with Adobe, and how he sees the company evolving in the coming years.

“Remote production is where we’re really seeing solutions like Reach Engine changing the way these guys work.” — Art Raymond

“Remote production is where we’re really seeing solutions like Reach Engine changing the way these guys work.” — Art Raymond

Reach Engine has seen plenty of growth within the sports market recently. Can you tell us about some of your sports clients?
In 2013, we saw greater than 400% growth in clients, of which about 35% is heavy into sports. And we finally had our implementation go live at NASCAR, which is exciting. And we had two new major worldwide sports institutions signed in Europe.

Some of our sports customers have to deal with lots of movement and distributed operations, so they need cloud consolidation for worldwide operations. That is where Reach Engine is key.

If you decide you want to run multi-node operations for a worldwide sports operation for a [high-profile event like] the Olympics and you want to share your library with four editing centers [in the U.S.] but have Sochi fired up independently, we can make that happen. Basically, in Reach Engine, you would say, I want to migrate my multi-node operation so that your users, stories, projects, and workflows are set up just like you want them. Now you launch another node in the UK; then you launch [one in] San Francisco. We basically instantiate the node with the configuration setup so people can start working in hours.

You have worked extensively with Adobe over the past couple of years to integrate Reach Engine with its platforms. How have these workflows evolved?
So we have done some major work with Adobe at three levels [on Prelude, Premiere, and Anywhere] to help address that.

We actually extend Prelude for logging management with a Web-based addition — kind of like Prelude Anywhere. It’s pretty cool. You have this interactive workflow that uses the best of Prelude, but it also uses a Web-based frontend. So you can actually have people working concurrently, all at the same time, logging, managing remote logging, integrated Prelude logging, and then our HTML5 frontend Web-based tool.

You can go from that workflow into Premiere, and then Reach Engine has the majority of its functionality and is now exposed in a panel inside Premiere. So you just expose it and go with full interaction and full workflows. We can actually instantiate Adobe Anywhere projects. You can actually go from Prelude to Premiere to Anywhere, and you can synchronize the whole thing with Reach Engine.

We’re trying to create an ecosystem. The one thing about our stuff is that it’s brand-new architecture, a next-generation platform, and so it doesn’t fall apart with size and scale. It’s just completely Internet-enabled from the day one, and then our search stack is exactly the same as Google’s.

It’s fast and easy, and you know, we’ve got standardized APIs, so people can take it, as partner vendors, and run. So that’s big for us. We’re trying to build that network effect so that we can become like an OEM backend for sports, for second screen, and for primary production systems in sports with Adobe and let’s see where the market goes.

Where do you see the biggest growth opportunity within the sports market right now?
Remote production is where we’re really seeing solutions like Reach Engine changing the way these guys work. How can we cater to those kinds of [clients],  the guys that are in the trucks on the road and in the stadiums who want to share content between their home and remote? How does Reach Engine service those guys?

Being able to completely manage [Adobe] Anywhere is huge for that kind of stuff. Adobe has been great with us. Our engineering staff worked with them to build out how to do project substantiation between Reach Engine and Anywhere and how to manage it worldwide.

What about growth beyond the sports market?
Reach Engine, when it comes down to it, is just phenomenal middle-ware. We call it a media utility platform in that we actually have a creative impact, a supply-chain impact, and a distribution impact. Those are our three things. And if you combine those and you look at what’s in the market, we don’t have a lot of big competitors that can offer all three.

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