Friday, March 13, 2015

Empress MAM: ‘Digital Assets Made Easy’

A recent discussion with Chris Tribbey of MESA (Media & Entertainment Services Alliance) and David Miller COO Empress, as posted on Hits Hollywood IT Society blog:
By Chris Tribbey
Empress Media got its start in 1998 as a provider of blank recording media and supplies, becoming one of the largest suppliers in the Northeast. To address the ever-changing technological advances in the industry, Empress Media Asset Management (eMAM), LLC was founded in 2006. And my how things have changed.
While Empress still counts itself as a major provider of physical media assets, the New York-based company has quickly shifted its focus from tape-based to tapeless workflows, offering a Web-based media asset management system, providing integrated solutions with options for hosted software as a service, tablet support, and cloud storage and transmission.
David Miller, chief operating officer, sat down with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) to discuss the changing face of digital media, the need for a secure digital work environment, and what’s next for the company.
MESA: eMAM got its start in physical media. How did the company evolve into what it is today, and what service gaps in the media and entertainment industry has the company looked to fill?
Miller: We sought to meet the needs of customers as they moved from tape-based to file-based workflows. We would like to be the Don Quixote for information silos, tearing down the isolated information structures put up in each location-giving staff and stakeholders tools to use all of the current and historical content in all locations from anywhere.
MESA: What sets eMAM apart from its competitors, especially in the media and entertainment space?
Miller: We have an intuitive user web and tablet interface, an extensive list of best- in-breed integrations, virtually unlimited scalability, and flexibility to use storage and processing across multiple cloud and on premise locations.
MESA: What kind of edge does being hardware agnostic give eMAM, and can you run through the company’s software systems (eMAM Online, eMAM Vault, eMAM Workgroup, eMAM Enterprise) and how each might be attractive to different M&E clients?
Miller: Our local system integrator partners worldwide have the flexibility to deploy the system on the most appropriate hardware to meet the technical and budgetary requirements of their customers. eMAM EZ is a starter system to provide basic tools for small shops requiring modest ingest, storage, and archive workflows. Beyond storage management, eMAM Vault can directly manage an archive system of any size from all of the leading archive middleware systems. eMAM Workgroup adds powerful collaboration, editing, review/approval, and distribution options. eMAM Enterprise can scale to meet the needs of the largest enterprise customers for processing and disaster recovery needs. eMAM Online is a SaaS (software as a service) for organizations looking for an online platform to share and collaborate, generally without locally managed storage.
The entire product range is based on the same technology, so customers can use whatever is required initially, and easily scale the system, realistically only limited by the available hardware.
MESA: Security is on every content company’s mind, especially when solutions go through the cloud. How does eMAM address content security concerns in general, and especially when it comes to portable media devices?
Miller: eMAM is generally accessible from any web browser or tablet, so security is a natural concern.
We have granular user control within the system for functions and categories of digital assets, so use of the system and the assets can be tightly controlled. The system can define users and user groups, or integrated with AD/LDAP to do so.
Organizations can look at which sharing and collaboration tools are most appropriate for their needs. Some will freely allowable sharable links and social media, while others would never consider it. One of the popular sharing features is the eBIN, which allows proxy sharing of videos, graphics, and other formats in different tabs of a branded email. Restrictions can be placed on how many times it can viewed, when the link expires, link forwarding, download rights, and more with built-in reporting tools.
Several years back, an organization was using eBINs to sell its content to local TV stations worldwide. It received legal notice that it did not have rights to one piece of content. A user simply deleted it from our system, instantly killing all the links that were sent. Before using our system, they would have had to send out return mailing labels worldwide and tracked the return of all hard drives and tapes that had been sent.
Greater security concerns can be met by sharing links as eSHARE with authentication, encryption use, or by building branded microsites with limited permissions and content with NO export or download functionality.
Physical security is also important. Many organization keep all native resolution or sometimes all assets secured locally behind their firewall according to organizational best practices. eMAM can manage proxy copies or all assets using cloud storage and/or servers from a variety of cloud providers to best meet the geographic, budgetary, and (of course) security needs of its customers.
MESA: Can you share some favorite use-case examples, where M&E companies have put eMAM’s offerings to especially good use?
Miller: The organization mentioned above selling shows using content stored on localized Amazon S3 storage buckets is a great example. Another organization, concerned that it had no effective archive, has been sending us hard drives for several years for our staff to ingest and tag into a robotic LTO library system. With proxy copies in Amazon storage and servers, they now have worldwide access and peace of mind that everything is secure.
Other organizations use tight eMAM integration into Adobe Premiere to allow editors and non-editors alike the ability to quickly and easily collaborate on projects.
A global product company has built its entire intranet video workflows for global staff around the eMAM toolset and integrations.
MESA: What’s next for eMAM, and what industries and companies would you like to extend into next?
Miller: We have a large variety of future directions on our technology roadmap including additional social media integrations, advanced cloud and distribution integrations, additional tools for graphics, and broadcast technology integrations. Beyond our traditional M&E base, we are excited to now have an expanding customer base in corporate, educational, and governmental institutions.

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