This chapter contains a functional overview of StudioCentral Library (called StudioCentral here), which is a digital asset management system that is used to store, manage, retrieve, preview, and distribute multimedia data. This data includes video clips, movie frames, sound files, animation cells, presentation storyboards, engineering designs, documentation, or any type of data that can be stored in a digital format.
StudioCentral is a complete solution that provides end users with desktop tools for managing their digital assets. The tools can be used with SGI platforms, Web browsers, and desktop computers such as Macintosh, in installations that range from small workgroups to enterprise-wide installations.
Digital assets stored in StudioCentral consist of:
Content, which is the actual multimedia data, such as the graphic, digital video, or digital audio. Content can be stored in any format desired, such as JPEG or MPEG.
Metadata, which is descriptive information about the multimedia data. The metadata consists of attributes that describe the asset (for example, its name and format) and its relationship to other assets.
|Note: Administrators and application developers can customize the metadata attributes stored with an asset by defining StudioCentral Datamodels.|
By separating the descriptive information from the content, each can be stored in a way that optimizes its access. For example, the metadata is stored in industry-standard databases, letting users search the descriptive information for assets that match certain criteria without having to read the content. And, the content can be stored in a variety of devices, including online, hierarchical, and archive storage, enabling efficient use and storage.
All assets in a StudioCentral system have metadata associated with them, but not all assets have content. For example, an asset that is used to group assets that contain different digital formats of the same video content, is a composite asset and may not have content itself. However, the assets that it groups, or points to, do have content.
Important features of the StudioCentral digital asset management system are:
Asset Versioning: multiple versions of the same asset can be stored, letting users track revisions that are made to the asset.
Unrestricted data modeling: data can be organized to facilitate workflow or other needs. There are no fixed schemas.
Flexible configurations: StudioCentral supports a wide range of configurations from a small one-server system with a few clients, to an enterprise-wide multi-server system with remote database and content stores, and many clients.
Asset transfer: simple or composite assets can be transferred to another StudioCentral system by using the StudioCentral Admin Tool Transfer manager, or the command-line utilities. Transfers may be query-based and many flexible options are supported.
Powerful metadata search
Out of the Box and Extensibility: StudioCentral is a complete client-server system with clients for asset creation and asset management. It also can be readily integrated into legacy or other software through use of the Plugin Server, the Search Server (for content search), and XML output support.
Automatic asset checkin and cataloging for multimedia assets.
The content for an asset is brought into the StudioCentral server by copying it from external files or transferring it from another StudioCentral server. When the content is checked into (that is, stored in) StudioCentral, it is cataloged. During this cataloging, or asset typing, process, if the content file's digital format is one of the types recognized by StudioCentral, the following steps are performed:
The content file's header is read.
Information about the asset is extracted from the content file and used to populate the asset's metadata. The attributes that are used are based on the type of the asset. For example, when a video asset is cataloged, the duration, digital format, bit rate, and image size are stored in metadata attributes.
If appropriate, a thumbnail, which is a pictorial representation of the asset, is generated. For example, a thumbnail is generated for movie assets but not for audio assets.
The metadata and content are stored in StudioCentral.
When assets are checked in, the end user or StudioCentral administrator can use graphical tools or command-line utilities to enter metadata attribute values, in addition to the ones that are automatically generated during the asset typing process. For example, the user may want to enter keywords, notes for the editor who will be reviewing an asset, or a description of a new version of an existing asset.
Once assets are stored in a StudioCentral system, they can be:
Queried, where users search for assets. StudioCentral provides the Asset Query Language (AQL) that lets users search for assets based on criteria that they specify. For example, a user can search for all assets checked in by Joe Smith since July 9.
Browsed, where users scan lists of assets on their desktops. For example, a user can perform a query that returns several assets, and then browse the returned assets before deciding which content to view.
Viewed, where the asset's content is viewed on the desktop. For example, an asset containing a movie can be viewed by having Kasenna MediaBase stream the content to the desktop.
Checked out (that is, reserved) or retrieved (that is, not reserved) by another user. This enables sharing of assets by members of a work group.
Sent to a video server for playout. For example, assets can be transferred to a video server, such as SGI's Video Server, for real-time, frame-accurate playback of broadcast-quality digital media data.
Sent to a MediaBase server for streaming.
Transferred to another StudioCentral system. For example, a central StudioCentral system may store all assets managed by a news department. Individual assets can then be transferred from that central system to another StudioCental system in a regional office.
Moved to an archive system, in either near-line or offline storage, which frees the online storage for the content of frequently used assets.
This functionality is shown in Figure 1-1.
A number of clients are available with StudioCentral, including:
StudioCentral Macintosh client that runs on Apple Macintosh computers and is used to store, query, view, and manage digital assets. Chapter 2, “StudioCentral Applications,” has examples of such client applications.
Admin Tool, a Web-based client, performs administration tasks such as monitoring system status, transferring assets, managing users, and setting up and administering security. Chapter 2, “StudioCentral Applications,” has examples of this tool.
Third-party applications, developed by SGI partners, perform tasks such as cataloging, archiving, and browsing assets.
|Note: StudioCentral also has command-line utilities, which are documented in the StudioCentral Library Administrator's Guide, that can be used to perform most of the tasks available through the desktop clients and the Admin Tool.|
In addition to these applications, software engineers can use StudioCentral services or the StudioCentral Asset Management Protocol (AMP) to develop applications that are tailored to specific needs. (See “Developing New StudioCentral Components” on page 31 for more information.)