FEED Issue 24


The ability to use cloud-based transcoding was a turning point, and promised the ability to scale as needed. For PBS Kids, Jenkins’s team originally sent out the programming via satellite and over the air for member stations to pick up. At the same time, it was pushed through on-premises hardware to create the HLS streams used for the PBS Kids app. Now, the entire transcoding process will be cloud-based using AWS, which also allows the team to create more channels, faster. The PBS team has also created an internal Media Gateway, which is a cloud-based portal that allows PBS content providers to upload files directly from their post-production systems into the PBS workflow environment, with an automated process for checking the validity of file formats and metadata. Jenkins is committed to a new way of working with content at PBS, which takes advantage of cloud automation and cloud-enabled human collaboration to optimise existing workflows, and invent new ones. “Once video files enter the cloud, we never want them to come back down,” he says. “We want them to go from post- production through our gateway, through media orchestration, through content delivery, playout distribution and archiving, all cloud-based – but with human intervention when necessary. I am a strong believer that the best QC is a human QC.” Jenkins is also a firm advocate of staff training. Rather than bringing in new

people to handle the new technologies, he believes the most efficient path is to raise the bar for existing staff. He explains: “We’re spending a lot of time on training our staff. We’re spending a lot of time on making sure they are part of our media supply chain reinvention and reimagination. Bringing them in at the base level and getting their input on how these processes could work and what works best I AM A STRONG BELIEVER THAT THE BEST QC IS A HUMAN QC for them really helps us to develop all of these things. “Equally, it takes a lot more money and time to bring someone in, and try and teach them broadcast content production, post- production, media distribution and all of these other things that come second nature to your existing staff.” Cloud seems to be a sure way of future- proofing PBS’s infrastructure in a marketplace where customer and vendor needs can change suddenly and dramatically. As a way to ensure best practices going forward, PBS has created its Cloud Center of Excellence, spearheaded by PBS senior

director of cloud architecture, Mike Norton. Norton leads a cross-functional working group dedicated to establishing how PBS can get the most out of cloud services operationally and financially, with 1800 to 2000 hours of content coming through the broadcaster on a monthly basis. Norton’s advice to organisations making the transition is to take full advantage of the flexibility afforded by cloud architectures: “Don’t try to do everything the same way you do it in a data centre. We’re finding a lot more velocity from serverless and managed services, where we don’t have to bother operating those things on our own.” “Don’t try and rush it,” adds Jenkins. “Do cost analysis and really depend on some of your broadcast folks to help you design these products. “I am very clear when I talk about IP that it is not IT. IP is a platform and an environment on which we are building new workflows to distribute and create content. IT is exactly what it says. I feel that companies make a mistake when they think they can combine the two and go down the road of trying to turn their IT department into a media processing department. IP is a very distinct discipline, and those who do it well, do it very well. “Collaboration is

the key. IP and IT teams need to be in sync for an effort of this magnitude to succeed.”

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