MARKET SHARE

Powerful CMS Puts Clips At Your Fingertips

[vzaarthumb:866114]DG Entertainment’s TVPro/MoviePro content management system can find just the right clip from TV shows or films by entering key words that describe characters, action, dialog and location. Even more importantly, all of that content is cross-referenced and annotated in context, using metatags.

Anyone who’s worked in a TV station during the past 10 years has witnessed several tech revolutions. We’ve seen the extinction of paper scripts, tape editing and most studio cameras run by humans. Now prepare to say goodbye to screening stations and yellow legal pads. In the decade ahead you’ll zip through hours of video with digital systems that automatically analyze, transcribe and organize raw footage.

But why wait? That future is available today in TVPro/MoviePro CMS, the content management system developed by DG Entertainment, a veteran promotion production house in Los Angeles.

Once footage from a feature film or TV series has been logged into TVPro, you can instantly zero in on just the right clips among thousands by entering key words that describe characters, action, dialog and location. Even more importantly, all of that content is cross-referenced and annotated in context, using metatags. But ironically, those richly-detailed digital labels can only be assigned by hand.

“There are any number of automated systems out there that can recognize faces and transcribe the dialog,” says Robbie Davis, president-CEO of DG Entertainment, “but that’s only 30% of what creative people need.” The remaining 70% is classified and logged by experienced editors, using customized categories tailored for each series or movie.

“First, we identify the main characters and the places they go to,” says DG producer Christine Treibel. “Then we list key subjects like actions. All shows have walking, running and eating, but most shows also have special sub-topics. For instance, 30 Rock or The Office might have ‘workplace rivalry’ or ‘employee laughter.’ ” (Both NBCU comedies provide TVPro CMS clip libraries to their syndicated stations.) “Our editors pull every great clip that can ever be used in a promo, sales tape or client commercial and tag each of them with every appropriate category,” Treibel says.

At this year’s Promax Local Summit, NBCU ended its promotional launch session for 30 Rock with this video explaining the TVPro CMS system. The assembled station promo chiefs responded with a standing ovation.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

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It takes two editors up to eight weeks to analyze and log 100 half-hour episodes. Operations Manager Candy Jett doubles as the context cop, checking each entry and metatag to ensure consistency and quality control. For each TV series, Davis says, “we deliberately keep each working team small to maintain a consistent voice and comedic point of view. Studios and advertisers tell us that a consistent perspective is important for selling both the show and commercial products.”

Building each TVPro database is a massive project, but savvy syndicators are happy to foot the bill. “If you live by the theory that ‘whoever gets the most promos wins,’ then it’s a very good idea to make it easier for stations to cut fresh promos,” Davis says.

And TVPro does just that by slashing the time it takes to find the right clips to build a theme week of holiday promos or to pull snack food or car references to create custom commercials for local advertisers — a value-added bonus for all parties concerned.

DG’s TVPro clients include all six major Hollywood studios and such hit franchises as Seinfeld, Friends, Two and a Half Men and Family Guy. Syndicators also hire DG to make direct use of their TVPro database to create custom promos which are sent to all client stations — such as this thematic 30 Rock spot tied to football season.

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DG’s MoviePro CMS service uses identical techniques to catalog usable moments from feature films — but with a special emphasis on sales opportunities. That’s in response to growing demand for sponsored split :30s that match products with movie content. Thanks to MoviePro, DG has built a side-business crafting genre-specific branded campaigns such as FX Tech Connexxion, which combines behind-the-scenes trivia about upcoming sci fi flicks with consumer electronics products. Likewise FX Movie Moments pair clips from family-friendly fare such as Kung Fu Panda with brands like Papa John’s Pizza.

DG was also instrumental in developing the popular Minisode format for Sony’s online Crackle service, which distills popular sitcoms and dramas to the most essential five or six minutes. Davis estimates that it took almost eight years to develop the TVPro technology and protocols, plus an investment “well over seven figures.”

Although traditional promo production still drives DG’s business, that investment is now starting to pay off.  “We knew we had a solid business-to-business service, but we always kept in mind the greater opportunity of marketing directly to consumers. Sure enough, several TVPro clients are poised to sell audio and video ringtones directly to mobile devices.

Of course not every show is a candidate for TVPro, Davis admits. “It only makes sense for shows that are solid hits and survive for at least three seasons.” Obvious candidates include Modern Family, Rules of Engagement and NCIS. And while no deals have been struck, “many of the classic series like M*A*S*H, Star Trek and I Love Lucy would make great candidates for CMS,” Davis says.

It doesn’t hurt that stations are starting to request — even expect — CMS systems when they acquire new syndicated shows. And not just for the enormous time savings. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference between the almost right clip and the right clip is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.


Market Share salutes the best on-air promotion throughout North America, many of them winners of Local Awards from the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas. Read other stories in the series here. Contributing Editor Arthur Greenwald, himself a veteran promotion manager, profiles these winning campaigns and the creative and strategic talent behind them. Want to suggest other future topic? Write to Arthur at [email protected]


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