How PFT aims to transform the media and entertainment sector with its Data Analytics, cloud technology and ERP offerings
When Prime Focus Technologies, better known as PFT, was founded in 2008, the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry was just beginning its digitisation journey. Back then, tech solutions specially tailored for M&E were few and far in between. There was a pressing need for content enterprises to transition to file-based workflows and deliver content to multiple platforms.
Fast forward to 2021, PFT has set new benchmarks in the industry with its technology offerings, and established a global footprint across five continents. Its innovative solutions are used by some of the world’s biggest broadcasters, studios, brands and service providers. Key among them being Turner, PBS, Hearst, Channel 4, Walt Disney-owned Star TV, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon, Viacom’s Voot, Cricket Australia, and BCCI,among others.
It was this steadfast commitment to the growth of the M&E sector that made it the winner of the ISV Innovation Cup, hosted in association with AWS. This intensive challenge aims to empower independent software vendors (ISVs) like PFT to accelerate product innovation and evangelise its ideas to launch their products. Read on to know more about this winning ISV’s origins, its contributions to the M&E sector and how ISV Innovation Cup will accelerate its growth.
How PFT heralded the technology revolution in M&E
Founded by Ramki Sankaranarayanan and Ganesh Sankaran in Bengaluru in 2008, PFT saw an immense opportunity for cloud-enabled software and services to transform the M&E sector.
“Our endeavor was to also connect every stakeholder involved in the business of content through digitization. So we gave the M&E industry its very own ERP software – CLEARTM —that automates the content supply chain. Leveraging the power of Hybrid Cloud and automation, it provided the industry with a single software for the enterprise, specially designed to connect all their departments, geographies and businesses.” says Ramki Sankaranarayanan, Founder and Global CEO, Prime Focus Technologies.
The cloud enabled Media’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite, CLEAR, has been adopted by the world’s biggest broadcasters, studios, brands and digital businesses to run their content operations. Today, the platform manages over 1.6 million hours of content globally.
PFT’s solutions have helped save costs for its clients by 30 percent and enhanced efficiencies by 40 percent. Close to 50 percent of major studios in the US use CLEAR’s SaaS applications for production, broadcast and distribution. It fulfils Video on Demand (VoD) of 10 million assets annually, and manages over 100 K hours of new TV episodes and 10,000 hours of live streaming content annually.
AI/ML: The next frontier
According to Muralidhar Sridhar, Vice President, AI/ML and Global Head of Product Management at PFT, one of the most promising opportunities for organisational transformation in the M&E industry lies with leveraging business intelligence from data. And while data is ubiquitous, generating relevant insights with actionability is key. According to their research, many companies have tried to collaborate with various vendors to develop Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) engines towards this end, but to no avail.
To meet these requirements, PFT developed CLEAR Vision Cloud — a native media recognition AI platform that helps solve real world business problems of TV Networks, Studios and OTT platforms through both technology and consulting.
CLEAR Vision Cloud comprises two key components — Data Packs and Action Toolkits. Modular Data Packs facilitate operations related to basic metadata, advanced metadata, premium metadata, video comparison, compliance and transcripts.
The Action Toolkits facilitate discovery, segmentation, content moderation, Video Comparator and language-related operations. “These are enveloped by PFT’s unique Machine Wisdom layer that transforms basic facets of cognition into meaningful higher level knowledge in the CLEAR Vision Cloud,” says Murali . “Thus, CLEAR Vision Cloud does not just produce accurate data but also actionable data.”
Murali also mentioned that PFT is actively strengthening its solutions internally to provide outcome-driven offerings. “For example, our Remastering team has been using CLEAR Vision Cloud for video conformance...What used to take 60 hours to conform to a TV show now takes just two hours and accuracy levels are over 90 percent on conforms. Similarly, CLEAR Vision Cloud is used to conform dubbed audio tracks to original video with over 99.5% accuracy enabling a quick human check and edit to achieve over 90% automation of process”.
PFT delivers cataloguing and metadata services to some of the biggest broadcast networks, studios, brands and sports bodies across the globe. Like most cataloguing service providers, its process was also manual. With CLEAR Vision Cloud’s Segmentation toolkit, Murali says that all the physical segments are now automatically identified and tagged. This has reduced the segmentation time from 30 minutes to about 5 minutes for a 30-45 minute video.
“Our creative teams are also using CLEAR Vision Cloud’s Promo Assistance and Promo Quality Check functionalities to automate mundane processes and enable more creative time for the editors. With the entire Promo QC process now happening on the cloud, we don’t need any edit suites for this process, and the editors can work on more creative tasks,“ says Bhaskar Sitholey, Sr. Vice President, Techno-Creative Solutions at PFT.
The AWS factor
PFT had an innovative idea for product enhancement, and participated in the ISV innovation cup to validate and transform the idea into a product. During the course of the challenge, PFT had access to AWS solution architects to review architectural designs and build Vision Cloud on AWS. Access to joint solutions with AWS also helped
“Clearly, we wanted to go-to-market (GTM) together with AWS ,with our solutions built on AWS Cloud as a SaaS. We are building solutions that will ensure business value realization for our end customers and with AWS hosting many M&E customers on the cloud, it was a win-win,” says Murali.
“PFT plans to aggressively reach out to its new and existing customers, and AWS’s customers on the value of CLEAR Vision Cloud. To that end, joint GTM access will really help PFT and AWS serve customer needs in the M&E industry.”.