Outlook: The future of media is metadata-driven
Simon Bergmark
Issue: November/December 2023

Outlook: The future of media is metadata-driven

The pressure to deliver more content in less time has never been greater. While many established media companies have a vault full of classic assets that could be served to engaged audiences, that media needs to be checked and edited for consumption in multiple regions. This is often extremely time consuming and the return on investment needs to be carefully weighed up. 
Metadata is the key to unlocking more value from archive media, as well as automating workflows for faster post production. But to do this effectively, the data needs to move between different systems seamlessly. From ingest and content management, through to storage and distribution, metadata can unlock consistency and efficiency in media workflows. When metadata is applied contextually, it becomes an indispensable assistant for media teams, freeing them up to make creative decisions and automating the more mundane tasks. 

Metadata for content processing
In traditional manual content processing workflows, it can be time-consuming to find those split-second imperfections. More recent innovations in the content supply chain offer plenty of ways to leverage metadata. But the accuracy of that metadata is an important factor for entertainment providers. Time-based metadata allows operators to pinpoint errors frame-accurately, so, instead of cross-referencing timestamps to locate segments to work on, it’s now possible to visualize content metadata directly on the asset timeline. This delivers a much more intuitive way of working. By visualizing metadata in a timeline, post production and content processing teams can optimize essential edits, compliance, versioning, QC, validation and localization processes. 
Media segmentation for promo creation is another repetitive task that can benefit from automation. Rapidly selecting the clips needed for promotional content means that operators can get straight into the creative flow. Raw metadata reports can be imported into cloud-native content processing tools. These unlock the key details and enable operators to automatically identify elements, like people, locations, objects and activities. Markers are then created within the content timeline, providing media professionals with a clearer overview so they can easily collate the footage required.
Asset search and discovery with metadata
In the new era of the cloud, media companies should be moving away from cumbersome download and transfer workflows. As media consumption increases, managing content at scale becomes an ongoing challenge for entertainment providers. Whether handling the latest releases or accessing archived content, the ability to pull from media remotely is not just on the wish list, it’s expected. Metadata plays a pivotal role in optimizing media asset management, so that operators and editors can seamlessly find what they are looking for. 
Utilizing metadata in a MAM allows operators to efficiently search, manage and monetize content assets. This eliminates manual processes, enhances workflow optimization and maximizes content value. To make the most of valuable media assets, organizations must adopt exemplary metadata practices. Metadata acts as a window into content storage, ensuring the efficiency of all subsequent processes. Get things wrong at this stage and nothing that follows will run smoothly. So, by accurately categorizing assets, metadata enables operators to review, tag and caption content for easier processing. Utilizing media content successfully requires searchability, accuracy and consistency. Without an advanced search-management functionality that incorporates annotation and indexing processes, assets can become cluttered, and storage is challenging to navigate.  

Effective metadata utilization
To avoid the pitfalls associated with metadata, organizations must address several key challenges. The principal rule is that metadata must have a clear purpose, and avoid unnecessary and confusing information. If the same content needs to be accessed by multiple teams, then it’s important that the information relevant to them isn’t missed out. A QC team will have very different requirements to a promotional team, but both need to access the same content.
A well-defined metadata use-case can provide valuable media insights. This means that ideally, consistent naming conventions and terminology are applied at the point of ingest. For older content, automation tools can clean up metadata in large archives. Inconsistencies in describing scenes or objects can lead to missing critical elements, impacting compliance and editing processes. A clear metadata strategy enables efficient cross-team collaboration, ensuring that everyone can share in the workflow benefits.  
The future of metadata
In today's media landscape, efficient workflows and accurate content management are critical for success. Leveraging metadata offers a powerful solution to optimize media workflows, streamline processes, and maximize the value of assets. By adopting time-based metadata practices, media organizations can enhance productivity, collaboration and audience satisfaction. Overcoming common pain points and establishing well-defined frameworks for metadata tagging are essential for managing content at scale. 
Over the next few years, integrations will play a vital role in the operations of complex media organizations. The success of media processes heavily relies on the seamless connection and uninterrupted flow of media using a combination of effective tools and solutions. Metadata cannot be the exception. Deep technology integrations must ensure that this key information accompanies assets throughout the content supply chain. By unlocking the full potential of metadata, content teams can stay ahead in the new media era.

Simon Bergmark is the Chief Product Officer at Codemill (www.codemill.se), which provides media workflow applications that enable M&E companies to save time and money.