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by Keith Lissak, Senior Director, Media and Entertainment Solutions Marketing, Quantum

As 2018 begins to unfold, the buzz-generating techniques and technologies of past years will become a real and transformative part of day-to-day media operations. Capturing, processing and delivering higher-resolution content will become the norm, the cloud will become an integral part of media workflow, and the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the generating of metadata will revolutionize the way content owners catalog, manage and monetize their media assets.

4K Becomes Commonplace
In 2018, working with 4K content will become more of an accepted practice. The challenges of working with so much more data aren’t going away, content creators are simply becoming more comfortable with the technologies and practices required to produce content more efficiently.

Keeping up with continued improvements in visual formats and pictures presents technical challenges, but the industry’s effort is being driven on one side by the increasing availability and adoption of low-cost 4K consumer devices and on the other by the ongoing evolution of 4K-capable cameras and content creation software.

This past holiday season saw 4K TVs available for under $200, and content providers including AT&T/DirecTV, Dish Network, Vudu, Netflix and Amazon already offer some variety of 4K programming to their subscribers. Both DirecTV and Dish Network broadcast the 2016 Rio Games in 4K and currently broadcast Fox Sports college football games in 4K.

Post houses and other content-creation facilities are growing more savvy about using the latest file system and data management technologies to implement the storage infrastructure necessary to support their 4K production workflows. A scalable, multi-tier solution can also help keep costs under control by automating the movement of raw materials and versions once they’re no longer needed to less-expensive object storage or archive, including the cloud.

On both ends of the spectrum — from consumer demand to creative capabilities — the drive for more and better content never seems to stop. So strong is this push that even as 4K becomes ubiquitous, 2018 will see the rise of 8K. In proof-of- concept demonstrations and in bleeding-edge special projects for high-profile broadcast events, 8K will begin to make its way into the marketplace. The never-ending progression of image resolution and enhancement will go on.

Media Workflows Fully Embrace the Cloud
In 2018 the cloud will finally be well-integrated into media workflows. Security, access and retrieval, along with integration with a wide range of applications, are all being addressed at an incredible pace that’s enabling both linear and nonlinear channels to leverage cloud resources for content preparation and delivery. Content still will be produced locally, born on-premise, but key elements of processing and delivery — wrapping, audio sweetening, EAS, ad insertion and more — will be orchestrated in the cloud and completed with the advantage of highly scalable and cost-effective compute and storage resources.

Tight integration of the cloud with on-premise tiers of storage will empower a media facility to maintain content locally when creative processes demand it, and to take advantage of the benefits — convenience, flexibility, scalability, and agility — the cloud offers with respect to media storage and processing. Robust data replication and off-site protection capabilities ensure content protection and accessibility across storage tiers.

When integrated properly, the cloud enables media facilities to improve efficiency in handling growth and meeting project deadlines. In the coming year, integration of the cloud — public, private or hybrid cloud —with on-premise storage infrastructure to support media workflow will become the industry standard.

AI Makes a Goldmine of Digital Media Libraries
Building up their enormous digital libraries, media organizations have had to accept incomplete — and sometimes incorrect — metadata as an inescapable reality. Armies of interns working day and night could not generate sufficient metadata to yield a meaningful picture of all this content. As a result, many audio and video assets have remained invisible, unreachable and unusable.

Now, however, cognitive engines powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are being applied to digital media libraries and changing the way content owners manage and monetize their content. Performing rapid automated examination of files and near-real- time extraction of data through processes including transcription, face recognition, object recognition, sentiment identification, translation and geolocation, AI-driven cognitive engines are turning media libraries into rich repositories of thoroughly catalogued content.

In enabling faster, better searches, the resulting metadata surfaces the right content at the right time, allowing for more efficient production of more relevant, engaging and compelling programming. In short, AI will open up a wealth of new opportunity for media organizations in 2018.