NAB 2010: Omneon Touts Production Strength

NAB2010:Complete Coverage from B&C

Las Vegas -- Server and
storage vendor Omneon, which is best known for supplying master-control
playout servers for local stations and cable networks, is using the NAB Show here in Las Vegas to highlight its new capabilities in production workflows.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company introduced new
modules and software for its Spectrum servers and MediaGrid storage that
deliver more bandwidth and support more users for collaborative editing
applications. It is also demonstrating a new content management system,
ProXplore, which is designed to organize metadata about media files and
track them throughout the production workflow, from ingest through
editing to playout.

Omneon recorded $105 million in revenues in 2009, which
represents a 17% dip from the $126 it posted in 2008. But in a tough
year for the broadcast industry, that represented strong performance,
said CEO Suresh Vasudevan, who estimated the average revenue decline
among Omneon's competitors ranged from 25% to 40%.

He said Omneon's comparatively strong performance was
attributable to both gaining market share in the core transmission
server business and winning new customers in the production space.

"All in all, we felt we laid a good foundation in 2009
despite what was arguably the toughest year the industry has seen in a
long time," said Vasudevan.

He sees new opportunities in the production and content
repurposing space, particularly overseas. He noted that less than 15% of
the studio infrastructure in Europe has been converted to
high-definition, and that the industry's overall shift to file-based
production is still in the early stages as well.

Production represented less than 10% of Omneon's
customer base in 2006, said SVP of Marketing and Business Development
Geoff Stedman, but counts for 30% of sales today including news
production, sports highlights and content repurposing applications.
Major U.S. customers include Time Warner Cable's NY1 News, which is using Omneon MediaGrid
storage in a complete news workflow with a Dalet newsroom computer
system, Chyron graphics, and Apple Final Cut Pro editors; and NBC
Universal, which used Omneon servers in combination with EVS replay and
editing systems during its coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

A key driver for Omneon's production growth has been its
integration with third-party editors, servers and cameras. At NAB,
Omneon is introducing new support for Sony's RDD9 MXF wrapper format,
which is used in the XDCAM HD optical-disc cameras favored by large
customers such as CNN. Omneon servers used to be able to read XDCAM
files before, but couldn't encode a file and send it to an XDCAM disc.
Now they can go both ways, said Stedman.

Other enhancements for production include the new
Spectrum MediaDirector 2201, which delivers more channels and more IP
bandwidth at the same price than the legacy MediaDirector 2102B model,
and new MediaGrid ContentServer 2124 storage modules that also deliver
more bandwidth for editing applications. Omneon says its smallest
MediaGrid system with just three ContentServer 2124 systems can deliver
up to one gigabit per second in bandwidth, support up to 100
simultaneous Final Cut Pro editors, and natively host transcoding and QC

"It's about a 140% improvement in overall throughput
that we provide on a per-node basis," said Stedman.

Omneon is also addressing what Stedman called "workflow
simplicity" as customers seek to manage their content and repurpose it
for multiple platforms and also implement service-oriented architectures
(SOA) to more easily scale or change their operations. The latest
release of its "Media Application Server" control software performs
automatic metadata collection, and can "virtualize" files into a common
database, so a customer can look at content stored in diverse file
system across multiple Omneon servers as a single file database.

As a complement to Media Application Server, Omneon has
also introduced Omneon ProXplore, which product manager Simon Eldridge
described as "off-the-shelf media management--it's basically a view into
your content no matter where it may be stored."

Eldridge noted that the metadata about clip grows
tremendously through its lifecycle from ingest to playout, and that
today's video clips are not necessarily a single file, but may include a
wrapper file, a video file and several audio files. To address that
complexity, ProXplore is designed to simplify workflows by automatically
harvesting and clearly presenting key metadata such as format, bit
rate, resolution, and aspect ratio.

It provides intelligent rules and notifications to
facilitate the movement of media through the production workflow with
minimal manual intervention, tracks content through its lifecycle, and
can interface with Omneon's ProXchange transcoding product to
automatically format content as required for the next step or user in
the production workflow.

ProXplore provides about 70% of the functionality of a
full-blown, customized asset management system at a much lower cost,
said Eldridge. He said that the system, which is sold as a software
license per each file system that is being managed, might run a customer
from $30,000 for a small system up to $200,000 for a large system.

ProXplore was released a couple months ago and is
already being used by some 20 customers, including Fox News and
Qualcomm's FLO TV.