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  1. Speech to the JTS Reception, Sheridan College
  2. Broadcasting's Use of Library Materials in the present and the future


Speech to the JTS Reception, Sheridan Collage, June 23, 2004

By Harvey Rogers

It is with great pleasure that I welcome the Joint Technical Symposium to Canada and certainly to Toronto for their annual meeting. As a Canadian Governor of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and on behalf of the Toronto Section which is hosting tonight's reception, we are very pleased to have this opportunity to allow both group's membership to meet and discuss the relevant topics of that concerns our memberships today.

The SMPE- Society of Motion Picture Engineers C was created in 1916 at the relative dawn of the motion picture business in order to standardize industry practice and technology. The standardization of movie technology was a critical factor in allowing for the growth of a legitimate mass medium, because standards created the conditions for a viable economic model for the mass production of movies, and the mechanism to reach wide audiences.

Industry standards became directly linked to profitability of the art form that continues to dominate world culture. The “T”- for television C was added in 1950 to acknowledge the dawn and importance of television as a second dominant mass visual medium.

From its rather chaotic but humble beginnings, SMPTE has now grown into a worldwide standards and technical society recognized around the world as a leading standards developer. There is a membership of close to 10,000 in 85 countries in 27 sections, plus an additional 10 student sections also spanning the globe. SMPTE has published and maintains close to 500 standards, recommended practices and engineering guidelines. It has long and recognized relationships with allied standards organizations including ANSI, ATSC, ISO, and ITU.

In addition to sponsoring its own fall annual technical conference and exhibition, it delivers a winter advanced motion and imaging conference. SMPTE also participates in major regional conferences around the world. SMPTE is allied with several other leading associations and conferences in terms of programming, journal communications activity, and cross membership. This alliance is with such groups as National Association of Broadcasters, the International Broadcasting Convention, the British Kinematographic, Sound and Television Society, and the University and Television Engineering Society of Japan.

The scope of SMPTE standards activity has encompassed almost all areas of film production, post production and projection technology this includes standards for 65mm, 35mm, and 16mm motion picture film. In the area of broadcast television technology it encompasses advanced television, HDTV, and digital television.

As our technology has improved over the years, the Society has expanded now to embrace television systems technology; compression; data essence technology registration and program identifiers; metadata and wrapper technology, network and file management; digital cinema and audio for film and television.

Finally, SMPTE has contributed significantly to the science of restoration and preservation of both film and recorded electronic media to extend the useable life and enjoyment of our favorite content.

In closing, may you have a great time exploring all the interesting and challenging topics that have been laid out for discussion over the next three days.

Thank you.

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Broadcasting's Use of Library Materials in the present and the future

By Harvey Rogers

Broadcasting's approach to the use of its library content and preserving this content has not changed in the last 35 years. As I say this, one has to understand that there are probably many approaches to the play out of content and storing this content for a long term, but the Broadcasting process has tended to stay the same for a very long time and seems to be very resistant to change.

If one acquires a program from a distributor, it is usually screened for faults; checked for length of program; captioning is noted and a cue sheet (a paper that states how long the programming sections are and when they start and stop) is created if one does not come with the tape. This information is usually entered into some computer software program and in some cases put into the tape canisters.

In the today's computer system a house number is assigned that stays with the tape and is usually generated from the Traffic system. A label is created with the program's title and episode number to be normally attached physically to the tape and the box. No further recording of the information is documented.

If one is lucky enough to have the right commercial break structure all ready formatted on the tape, when it arrives, then no second version is required. If the break structure or some content needs to be removed so that the program length is correct to fit the time slot that allows for all promotional and commercials messages then a formatted copy is made whereby the title information is repeated and a sub title of formatted version is attached.

Programs are stored on videotape of some format that the television station has adopted as their house standard.

Similarly the basic procedure outlined is followed but a bit more information is added if one is dealing with news segments or studio productions. Additional information is usually stored separately.

When the program is being broadcast, the tape physically sits in the master control area in case of an on air emergency for those stations that have server play back capabilities. If robotics are used i.e. a flexicart or LMS ( Library Management System ) then the tape is actually in a VTRs being played to air. At the end of the week all the tapes are gathered up and returned to the library for filing on the shelves till the next time they are required.

Tapes are stored in house in a controlled environment usually on mobile shelving. The most common group is the active tape library. Since space for the library service is usually at a premium, thus only a small portion of an established channel is kept on site. The larger storage facilities are located away from the broadcast facilities. Usually a private storage company is contracted to the tape library house and catalog the tape inventory. If these companies that are in the media storage sector they will also have climate-controlled environments; those who are not will just offer shelves space with fire protection and a delivery service.

So as you can see, this has been the extent of the sophistication of the archiving and storage of broadcast videotape to date is very basic.

But times have changed. Only in the last few years has there been a reasonable price reduction of video servers, disk arrays, robotic archive systems. Similarily, there has been a price reduction for large capacity digital storage tape. Now the idea of using digital storage tape or servers as truly a means of storage and playing back of programs to air is an economic reality. This change has started the revolution of Digital Asset Management. Digitizing your program content and elements in an archive coupled with the use of metadata makes it very easy to find the program or sequence required. The bonus here is that the same system is often used as a play out system to air which is usually under automation control.

As this is a revolutionary concept in the broadcasting industry, we, the broadcasters have to learn more about its potential.

Alliance Atlantis is a large broadcaster with 12 national services being play out from one central location, and with additional interests in motion picture distribution and the sale of a very large broadcast library of movies, television series and specials from around the world. With this vast array of diverse content, the idea of digital asset management is extremely appealing to a company like ours.

At this point I would like to just go over some of the basic terminology one uses in the world of asset management and hopefully will be helpful to you during this conference. I will end off with some thoughts about standards that are needed to make this whole revolution work to our advantage.

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