Posts Tagged ‘tools’

The 80% Solution

July 25, 2011 2 comments

There’s an often cited report from Cisco that “80% of the bandwidth across the internet will be video traffic by 2015” (Here’s the report, and here’s a breakdown from a blogger).  Leaving aside the quality and accuracy of Cisco’s forecasting, it raises an important question for video and communications managers:

How much of that video will serve any purpose for our business?

Over 50% of the reported video delivered is Hulu, Netflix streaming, set-top delivery, etc. – all the entertainment a viewer could want.  But what about the enterprise?  Will 80% of the available network bandwidth for businesses be taken up by video communication?  And will that video contain material that communicates necessary information to enable the employees to do their jobs correctly, or even better than before?

I think we have to highlight the difference between volume of data and impact of that data.  Video uses a lot of bandwidth – there’s simply a lot of information that needs to travel from one location to another, or to many other locations.  Yes, a five minute video, even streamed at a low bitrate, involves sending 50-100 MB of data from a server or encoder across a pipe.  But that doesn’t mean the data is more important than a one-page memo in Word format that eats up only 150KB of space – it only means that it needs more resources to travel from point A to B.

There’s no overall “owner” of the internet that cares about getting the most out of its bandwidth and resources.  There are millions of individual content owners and billions of content consumers who care about their individual transactions and experiences, but viewed overall it’s a mosaic of billions of independent events.  At the enterprise level, however, there is a contained universe of people driven by a broad strategic goal – do what we do as well as we can to help our organization succeed.  That could be selling more widgets than anyone else, or delivering the most food aid possible to starving people.

Whatever the goal, there needs to be an overall understanding that the limited resources of the organization need to be deployed in the best way possible to meet that goal.  So even if Cisco’s prediction is accurate for a broad mosaic of transactions across the globe, it doesn’t necessarily translate into 80% of the enterprise’s bandwidth being turned towards video.  I’m a proud supporter of video in the enterprise, and I do believe it’s the best way to communicate internally and externally.  I do think a larger chunk of bandwidth used in the enterprise will be video, and that it will be used for important business functions.  But when you look at the use of video within the smaller universe of organizations, I’d be surprised if the volume keeps pace with that of the wider world.


DSLR Video Production

July 21, 2011 1 comment

I finally caved in a month or so ago and bought myself a DSLR camera – a Canon T2i.  The family cameras until now were a series of mid to upper level point and shoots, which served their purpose well.  We got plenty of quality pictures of birthday parties, school events, etc. and there was nothing wrong with them.  Still, my last real camera purchase was my film-based Canon AE-1 back in the 1980’s, so I surrendered to my camera lust and settled on the T2i.  I LOVE this camera – not that I really know what I’m doing yet, but the pictures are beautiful and the features are very robust, especially for someone on the lower end of the DSLR learning curve.

I settled on the Canon for a simple reason – the quality of the HD video is very high, and I wanted to be able to take full 1080p video.  Nikon does offer some HD abilities, but my research suggested the Canon would meet my needs better, so I went in that direction.  Which of course provides fodder for a blogpost on the use of DSLR cameras for Enterprise-level video content creation.

There’s a whole universe of DSLR video, and the internet provides a lot of discussion, demos, how-tos, etc.  (Neumann Films is one source I found recently.)  At the Enterprise level, more and more organizations are taking to DSLR platforms for at least some of their production.  A CMMA colleague produced a large chunk of an internal message using a DSLR platform, and the results were fantastic.  So the big question for anyone in the space is how to approach the use of DSLR within their environment?

The first step is to assess current production levels and processes.  If you’re outsourcing every step of your video production, you’ll certainly save money if your team can shoot, edit, and produce in-house.  The camera costs are pretty manageable, as are the editing and production suites.  That of course assumes your existing team can handle the work you’ve been sending out – the equipment here is much less important than the overall skillset and time availability of your own staff.

If you’re already doing work internally, you have to see what your team wants to do.  There’s certainly a lot of value in equipment that can handle both still and video production, but your videographers have to be prepared to work with a completely different platform. There are benefits to smaller equipment footprints, but it’s an adjustment for videographers who have been working in a certain way for a long time, and certain features will be different or absent moving from a pro grade video camera to a DSLR.  You still need to worry about lighting, sound quality, and all the other parts of a good video production, so the DSLR on its own does not mean you’re suddenly set to go with an equipment bag 1/3 the size of your gear before.  Another thing about a switch –  you either have to buy enough equipment to enable the still guys and the video guys to work at the same time, or be prepared for scheduling conflicts and adjustments.

I think the essence of a move to DSLR is that it’s really just another piece of technology.  It’s certainly improved life for tinkerers like me – one piece of equipment provides the features of two, and produces a high quality video result.  But for a professional space, managers need to look beyond the affordable price and small-footprint package. You really need qualified staff to develop high-quality pieces more than you need equipment, no matter how attractive it seems. Good videographers & editors can produce great material with almost anything decent (leaving aside the cheapo handheld video cameras for now.)  Untrained shooters and editors will turn out bad work even when using the highest quality cameras.

In the end I suspect most enterprise media departments will simply add DSLR shooting to their arsenal alongside their other tools.  It provides a quality image capture at an affordable price, and it can allow staff with some videography skills to fill in if primary personnel and equipment are unavailable.  It’s important for media departments to learn something about this new world of video capture and consider it as a part of their tool and skill sets.

Digital Asset Management

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment

One of the challenges of a busy production house is keeping track of all the footage and other assets created or captured as part of the projects underway.  The solution lies with digital asset management (DAM), a toolset designed to identify and track the assets throughout their lifecycle.  It’s gotten to the point where the DAM universe now has its own conferences – the conference in NY just happened in September, though I unfortunately had to miss it.

Many organizations have bought or developed extensive DAM systems to make certain they can access their materials quickly and efficiently.  I heard a gentleman from CNN at the Content & Communications World expo in NYC last month describing their system, and it took them 10 or more years to develop (more on their system later).  Needless to say most of us are not CNN, and probably don’t have ten years to figure it out, so I’m going to outline some of the main concerns here.   Full disclosure – my own organization doesn’t yet have a DAM system, so most of my thoughts are based on research and past experience with other asset management. Read more…

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