By Bill Admans, Chief Operating Officer, Aletliere Creative Technologies
This story first appeared in InBroadcast Magazine, March 18, 2022

There was a time, not long ago, when the technologies and products being discussed in an article like this were only relevant to niche sectors of media and entertainment. What a difference 24 months makes.

Topics like cloud collaboration and remote production could also easily find a home in mainstream consumer technology magazines. That’s how pervasive the cloud has become in every aspect of our work and personal lives – from the explosion of content available on streaming services to remote learning to our social interactions, we’re all living cloud-based lives – a point that will be driven home at NAB 2022 by Ateliere Creative Technologies.

Remote collaboration is something that’s not just a temporary side-effect of COVID, it’s how the industry will work going forward. We have proven that remote collaboration is an incredibly productive way to work, whether it’s production happening on one continent and post-production on another, having distributed workflows throughout your organization in different cities across the country, virtual production, or content distribution.

The only way to do any of this effectively is by using cloud-based tools.

And the amount of content being created, managed, viewed, shared, distributed, and purchased related to cloud-based services is immense, on a scale and pace that just a decade ago was unimaginable. We were already on this trajectory towards the cloud; the pandemic simply accelerated the rate of change.

If we continue to rely on traditional tools and resources to satisfy the demand and alleviate the enormous strain on our current infrastructures and workflows, we’ll never move ahead into the future. The only solution really is to move into the cloud, allowing people to collaborate over vast distances, take advantage of the full power of parallel computing, and seamlessly exchange and store media.

Working in the cloud simply brings levels of efficiency, security, and scalability that a traditional infrastructure can’t match. And, with the added benefits of working in an OPEX environment, you’re no longer tying up your capital expenditures on infrastructure. Instead, use that budget to fund your core product and most valuable asset: the content you sell to your customers. Use the money to make more and better products, ultimately strengthening the value of your business.

At the recent HPA Tech Retreat in California, we saw incredible demonstrations of virtual production and visual effects. But there were also challenging conversations about the future of the business, not just the technology, but the economics behind the technology. The cloud was very much a part of those discussions. Content owners were focused less on infrastructure and, instead, thinking hard about how to monetize their continually growing content libraries.

And that will continue into NAB and even beyond 2022.

Many content owners are wrestling with optimizing their massive archives. It’s no longer just the blockbuster movies and the new TV shows that people want; it’s also older films and TV series people are nostalgic for and want to see in a restored version. That mix is what’s really drawing viewers into so many of these streaming and on-demand services and driving their explosive growth.

When Netflix and Amazon launched, the big question then was how might they compete with the big broadcasters and cable operators? Instead, we’ve seen consolidations of major studios and content companies, and broadcasters have launched their own on-demand services.

Now, we’re in the middle of the next wave of on-demand: Advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) and Free ad-supported TV (FAST) services, delivering the user-focused experience of streaming on-demand services but without the need for a subscription.

This will be the year we really start to see AVOD services launch original programing, once exclusively the domain of the big subscription VOD platforms. This growth is being driven by advertisers increasingly recognizing the opportunities to cost-effectively reach new audiences, engage directly with consumers, and create new revenue streams — and they’re willing to pay a lot of money for these privileges.

Content catalogs that once were thought to have reached their expiration dates are finding new life through this expanded universe of outlets and more content owners realize they are sitting on gold.

Ateliere at NAB 2022

Ateliere’s plans for NAB line up perfectly with these evolving industry trends and will clearly illustrate the continuing expansion of our cloud-native digital supply chain platform. In 2021, the amount of content we managed and delivered more than quadrupled over the previous year, and we anticipate even greater growth in 2022.

At NAB, we’ll demonstrate our Connect platform with added support for iTunes packages via Apple Transporter. An iTunes Package is a directory that contains the data necessary to describe a product: video files, poster images, and metadata, with each package representing a movie or episodic product on iTunes. This new integration makes it easier for customers to deliver their content to iTunes, traditionally a complicated, error-prone process requiring serious attention to detail.

Integration of this workflow into Ateliere Connect simplifies the process by using our automated cloud-native orchestration platform to do the heavy lifting and perform the necessary checks to ensure all assets and metadata are correctly formatted. Delivery is via Aspera which is fully integrated into Connect for fast and reliable transportation.

Ateliere is also highlighting support for Apple Transporter Package Format (ITMSP). Apple requires all metadata and asset files to be delivered in the iTunes Package format, with naming conventions ending in “.itmsp” and containing: an XML file named metadata.xml that describes the delivered content using the structure documented in this specification, digitally encoded source materials (audio, videos, closed captioning, notes), and associated image files. A schema is used to validate the XML document sent in an iTunes Package.

Ateliere Connect now supports the ability to supply video-on-demand content, catalog, and availability feed deliveries to Apple Channels. This allows customers to offer branded channels within content packages or as stand-alone content on Apple TV.

Is there more? Yes, Ateliere will highlight expanded support for delivering content to Amazon Channels, allowing content owners to create their own customized and branded experiences on Amazon Prime tied to the specific movie and TV content. Additionally, Ateliere Connect now supports the Media Manifest Core (MMC) and Media Entertainment Core (MEC) standards, which are part of Amazon Prime Video’s global delivery specifications.

Ateliere’s planned demonstrations at NAB all further illustrate the flexibility and scalability of the platforms to grow with customers as they explore new ways to manage and monetize their content.