16 Feb Conceptual Workflow: Conditional Encoding Part 2- Web and Distributed Encoding
Last week, we covered the concept of Conditional Encoding (KCM: Kammes Compression Methodology, still looking for investors) and you may have noticed that I put an odd node on the graphic workflow. The LOGIN. Why? Because the next phase of this workflow is going to piggyback on not only the Internet, but on your LAN as well.
So, we’ve already built the logic which determines the parameters for the encode(s) via the web browser interface, and delivered that to the encoder. But now we need to get the files to be transcoded to the encoder. If you’re on a LAN (internal network) then it’s time to call the I.T. nerd, and have them map the path from your encoding solution to your computer. This creates a link to the encoding solution and your computer which houses the media. Both systems now “see” one another, and given the proper permissions, they can read and write each others files. A user can now move the files to be transcoded (sometimes as easy as drag and drop) into the appropriate folders on the encoder. At this point, the encoder utilizes the settings from the web interface, applies them to the files, which the user has just moved and WHAMMO – encoding begins.
Further automation is very possible, including setting up watch folders on the encoding solution to make copying of files easier for the end user. Instead of having to navigate to a specific and oddly named folder, a user cpuld drop the file on an easy to read and locate network folder. Since the encoding solution is constantly watching this folder, it’s as if the files were deposited directly on the encoder. Many solutions can also send emails on the status of the encodes, and can even do their own housekeeping – moving and deleting files to maintain free space and organization.
To streamline the process further, solutions like StorageDNA have the ability to copy files over your network faster than a traditional drag and drop. Add that feature to delta synchronization, encryption, and a host of other features, and now you have a pretty efficient solution.
This solution is perfect for several users needing to access the encoder on a private, local network. And guess what? Short of LAN acceleration, some solutions actually already do all of this. Which is why this workflow doesn’t stop here.
Let’s say you’re remote. Or – better yet – you want to start a business for encoding for the teeming millions out there?
That presents a bit of a problem. How do we get the media to the Encoder? How to we marry the logic based encode parameters to the media? And most importantly, how do we bill for it?
With DAM. Digital Asset Management.
DAM solutions are best suited for their own tech column post (forthcoming) but essentially, it’s a piece of software that organizes all types of data – media or otherwise. It catalogs every conceivable piece of data about the file (metadata), and enables a user to search across all of the fields – including custom ones. By depositing the web based encode parameters into the DAM, we now have a record of the user, their encode parameters, and a place for the uploaded media to reside where it can be referenced by the DAM. All of this data can then be dished off to the encoder, where the machine chugs away. The encoded media is then returned to the DAM, where information like “encoding time” is cataloged and organized. A report can then be generated for the client. Client’s can then be billed for the encode time. Some DAMs, like CatDV and Final Cut Server are extensive enough to allow for backend coding to allow for a review and approval process. (See my last entry on FCServer.) This would allow a client to, say, watch several versions of their encoded file (with a watermark, natch), pick which file best suits them, and then download. Oh, and pay.
Storage DNA also falls into this nicely. It offers the same benefits on a LAN as it does a WAN. Faster transfer times, resuming broken connections, and even a web interface to track the files.
I know that’s quite a bunch of tasks and features for these puzzle pieces to “automatically” do. While the basic framework (“hooks”) for this workflow is built into many DAM solutions, don’t kid yourself – this will require some forethought and engineering time. But it is possible.
The last and final step is to optimize your encoding solution. For high volume batches, consider using software that scales. That is, software that can distribute the encoding work to other machines to get the trancoding done quicker. Telestream’s Episode Engine family is excellent at this. Apple’s Compressor can also accomplish this – albeit with limited format support.
Here is our finished workflow. Pat yourself on the back.