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Avid Upgrades Interplay Product

Editing and storage supplier Avid will hit NAB next month
with an expanded version of its Interplay production asset management system
and a new vision of how its hardware and software fits into the overall content
production and distribution chain as programmers seek to monetize their content
on multiple platforms.

In January, Avid acquired German asset management firm Blue
Order Media, whose Media Archive product is used by NBC Olympics and other
large international broadcasters. According to Avid COO Kirk Arnold, the team
at Blue Order has a "tremendous understanding of industry-based standards" and
the "openness and flexibility" of the Media Archive architecture was a key
reason for the acquisition.

The Tewksbury, Mass.-based company has now integrated Blue
Order's technology into Interplay, which is already installed at some 700 sites
today, and transformed Interplay into a full media asset management (MAM)
solution. The core problem that Avid is trying to address for customers, says Arnold, is this: "How do I
gain visibility into what assets I own, and how do I increase my ability to
monetize them?"

Interplay's expanded functionality comes through a new
module, Interplay Media Asset Manager, which is based on the Blue Order Media
Archive product and allows programmers to collect, index, catalog, manipulate,
retrieve and distribute rich media.

Specific benefits of the new module are: 

--Workflow orchestration, including process scheduling and
management, job prioritization, notification and process design capabilities to
help customers automate ingest, production and distribution processes;

--Rich metadata capabilities with an open media catalog that
can handle any type of media, track the history of assets and provide multiple
layers of time-based metadata; and

--A Service Oriented Architecture, based around Web
Services, which provides a modular, open platform and allows customers to
easily integrate new and existing technology investments and unify teams across
the organization and in remote locations.

Avid, which has renamed the legacy Interplay product as
Interplay Production, says it will also expand its Professional Services wing
to help customers with design, workflow consulting, workflow customization,
project management, change management, business continuity and on-air support

The changes to Interplay reflect a new approach by Avid as
it seeks to keep pace with systemic changes in the television business. Arnold notes that instead
of a single facility producing content for one or two distribution targets,
today's programmers are collaborating on a global basis and serving multiple
platforms with diverse formats.

"The fundamentals of the workflow have changed
dramatically," she says.

In that vein, the changes to Interplay form the basis of
what Avid calls a new framework for content production and distribution, the
"Integrated Media Enterprise", which the company will demonstrate at NAB.

The Integrated Media Enterprise framework is built around
three fundamental components: an open media catalog that allows customers to
quickly find, repurpose and monetize material; a rich media repository that
cost-effectively stores all types of content and provides access through an
integrated view; and a modular, open architecture that facilitates
collaboration by integrating ingest, production, archive and distribution

While Avid is pitching the Integrated Media Enterprise as a
new concept at NAB, it has been gradually opening up the architecture of its
editing and storage products over the past two years to work with third-party
products, including Apple's rival Final Cut Pro editing system. It also began
integrating Web services into Interplay last year as way to expand the system's

says that much of the capability that Avid is describing as part of the
Integrated Media Enterprise is already implemented today at various customer
sites. Making it a centerpiece of the company's NAB exhibition is simply a
reflection of the way Avid's business has changed.

"This is not a story of ‘Tell us what products you need',"
she says. "It's ‘Tell us what business problem you're trying to solve.'"