NAB Reflections: Avid’s Ray Thompson on MediaCentral’s Next Steps

The platform now integrates cloud services, AI features

Avid Technology hit NAB 2018 with relatively new CEO Jeff Rosica (he had been president since 2016) and its MediaCentral platform, which was running for the first time alongside on-demand cloud services and features based on artificial intelligence.

“We’ve been working for years on the platform,” explains Ray Thompson, director of broadcast and media solutions marketing, “and this is the first time that customers can take advantage of cloud solutions to do things like, say, spin a resource up and down, do shared editing, and add capacity, storage, and bandwidth as needed.”

Avid’s MediaCentral platform has new flexibility via Avid On Demand.

It’s all part of Avid On Demand, a SaaS cloud services and solutions platform that provides media-production capabilities, including Avid AI, a new suite of Avid and third-party content-indexing–automation capabilities, such as closed-captioning verification, language detection, facial recognition, scene detection, and speech-to-text conversion.

The ability to spin up an editing operation or a postproduction workflow and spin it down when a project is over is one of the promises of a cloud-based production environment.

“It lowers the cost barrier,” says Thompson, noting that the user doesn’t have to make a large upfront investment. “The old days of adding big iron and then disaster recovery are over, as users can rely on the cloud to bring all of that to them.”

Avid AI services were introduced at the Avid Connect conference just prior to the start of NAB 2018: Avid Phonetic Search, Avid Illuminate On Demand, Microsoft Cognitive Services, and Avid Transformation. Avid On Demand cloud solutions include Avid Shared Library On Demand and Avid Editorial On Demand. And, with NEXIS | E5 NL, the world’s first software-defined storage platform for media, Avid customers can manage media across all of their online-, nearline-, and archive-storage resources.

“There is an opportunity to do things like add closed captioning across a library of content without the need for an intense and highly manual (and often inaccurate) process,” says Thompson. “That is a real application from Microsoft Cognitive Services that is providing real value to partners, as the user can plug in what they want when they want it.”

The move to a microservices architecture is an important enabling technology for MediaCentral, allowing clients to customize a workflow and feature sets more easily.

“They can build an infrastructure or tool the way they need it, and then third-party companies can do the same and add capabilities, like the ability to look at social media or the weather within the MediaCentral interface,” adds Thompson. “We jumped into the cloud with Microsoft, and now we are leveraging the cognitive capabilities for news and sports.”

For the sports market, Avid offers workflow innovations enabling sports broadcasters to streamline creation and airing of live UHD programs. Avid’s end-to-end sports workflow integrates Avid FastServe, MediaCentral Editorial Management, the MediaCentral Log app, the YEPCO Sports Data Feed Connector, and MediaCentral. Also integrated are Avid NEXIS software-defined storage, including the new Avid NEXIS E5 NL; the Maestro graphics suite — Maestro Designer, Maestro Live, and Maestro Telestrator; and Maestro studio solutions — Maestro AR, Maestro Virtual Set, and the new Maestro PowerWall.

The YEPCO integration demonstrated third-party integration, allowing sports data like rosters and results to be logged at an event and immediately transferred via FTP or HTTP into the Avid environment.

“The attitude at Avid is generally very positive,” says Thompson. “From a revenue perspective, we are doing better, and our overall profitability is up. So that says to us that we are heading in the right direction and rolling out products that people care about.”

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