Media Giant PR Newswire uses EnterMedia’s Enterprise DAM to Support Media Studio

 

Introduction

PR Newswire is a multimedia platform provider with clients all around the world. Their products focus on helping marketing teams, corporate communicators and public affairs officers to fully utilize available content to engage with target audiences. PRN was paramount in the establishment of the commercial news distribution industry in the 1950’s. Currently, PRN provides end-to-end solutions for media production, organization, optimization and targeting for traditional web, modern mobile and social media outlets. PRN boasts the world’s largest multi-cultural, multi-channel content distribution network.

 

Background

PR Newswire has a software package called Media Studio. They utilize EnterMedia’s Enterprise DAM as the backend, using the REST API to perform different tasks such as getting asset metadata or transcoding. They use several EnterMedia servers for quality control, user acceptance verification, and integration testing for their own features. This Enterprise DAM

More about Media Studio: http://promotions.prnewswire.com/MediaStudio.html

 

 

With so many options in the DAM marketplace, PR Newswire set out to find a consulting partner with subject matter expertise to help the company find the best fit solution. PR Newswire selected DPCI to help the company refine its requirements and support the procurement process for an Enterprise DAM. DPCI worked with stakeholders from PR Newswire to clarify the functional and technical requirements for a new digital asset management system. The team focused specifically on PR Newswire developer’s needs for integrating the DAM with existing PR Newswire systems through web services and API calls.

DPCI helped PR Newswire solicit vendor responses and prepared a set of worksheets that contained business, product, technical, and price questions for vendors to address. These must-have criteria or ‘coarse’ filters were used by PR Newswire to narrow the product landscape down to 5 potential products. The vendor finalists were then asked to submit a response to a set of functional requirements and to present the solution following a standard demo script derived from those requirements. DPCI provided support to PR Newswire throughout the procurement process and helped to validate vendor assertions. This process allowed PR Newswire to map product functionality to its digital asset management requirements and helped to identify the best solution for PR Newswire’s needs and budget.

“PR Newswire is a great example of a well known, global media company that needed a fast, reliable, custom DAM solution to process large amounts of assets. I’m pleased to say that EnterMedia has been able to satisfy their needs.” – Christopher Burkey, Lead Developer/CEO of EnterMedia

 

Technical Challenges

 

1. Building a Fast and Reliable Backend

PR Newswire has a large volume of clients that rely on their Media Studio product. This results in an ever increasing number of search queries, transcodes, and metadata edits. The backend server must keep pace with the requests and demands of each client in order to provide a continuously positive experience. This requires an enormous amount of resources.

The transcoding of images, video, audio, and document files in a quick and efficient manner is paramount to the success of the project. In order to address this issue, EnterMedia invested resources in extending the REST API, and the improvement of a node based clustering solution. These technologies would allow more accurate management of system events, and unprecedented scaling capabilities within a single environment.

2. Converting CMYK Images

Another challenge was reliably converting CMYK images to the sRGB colorspace. This was one of the most persistent challenges of the project. EnterMedia has always converted images to the sRGB colorspace because it is has earned the reputation of being the standard default colorspace for the internet (http://www.w3.org/Graphics/Color/sRGB.html).

There were a wide variety of CMYK images that would need to be correctly processed through the backend conversion system. Some images had no metadata indicating that the image was in the CMYK colorspace. Some images were missing a CMYK embedded profile that defines the mapping of that particular colorspace. Some images had an inaccurately embedded profile. As a result, many of the images that were uploaded to EnterMedia suffered from color distortion when transcoded.

 Case Study - image_cmyk_issue

 

Technical Solutions

 

The primary requirements were a platform independent client, flexible media support (such as unlimited file conversions, custom transcoding profiles, e.g. ffmpeg/ AVConv), local storage, a simple and customizable UI, Dublin core metadata support and configurable user permissions. EnterMedia’s EMShare was able to meet all of these requirements, and more, out of the box. With straightforward support agreements and pricing, experience with migrating other clients from Canto Cumulus, solid documentation and a modern GUI in the browser-based client, EnterMedia was awarded the contract.

1. Building a Fast and Reliable Backend

One issue which caused slowness in converting all of the profiles for an asset was that each of the profiles were being transcoded up-front. PRN regularly uses about a dozen distinct transcode profiles which were used to describe various printable and web-based versions of an image. This issue was solved by exposing a REST API function for transcoding a profile on-the-fly called “convertasset”. This empowered local administrators to make a simple call that would transcode a particular profile on an as-needed basis.

“EnterMedia is a robust and powerful digital asset management system. For our environment we needed a cost-effective system to handle transcoding needs that occur 24/7. This is a very challenging part of the process and EM handles it very well.”

– Morgan Tiley – Senior Developer

2. Converting CMYK Images

Reliably converting CMYK Images with missing or incorrect information required a creative and multi-faceted approach. The issues were solved in a series of steps. It was decided that  CMYK-colorspace images would be handled separately from general input images. Research was done to determine the proper way to use ImageMagick for converting each of the CMYK images with their specific limitations.

Previously, the ImageMagick convert parameter “colorspace” was used to convert all of the images to sRGB. Specifying “-colorspace sRGB” internally maps the input image colorspace to sRGB as best it can, however, this function doesn’t always produce fully satisfactory results. This is what caused the color scheme of the conversion to vary from the original.

The solution to this was to strip the current color profile information from the input image and embed an sRGB profile on the output image instead of using the -colorspace parameter. The system was also modified to use a tiny profile, tinysRGB.icc, for embedding. This profile is very small in size (524  Bytes), so output images are never bloated. This strategy ended up resolving most of the CMYK conversion issues.

However, there were still issues with invalid input images. For instance, some CMYK images did not contain a CMYK embedded profile (an example of this was denoted as “the Manilow case”, because of the content of the test image). There were also several instances where a CMYK image had an invalid CMYK embedded profile.

In total, these were the invalid cases:

Color Space | Color Profile

—————————

CMYK            | none

CMYK            | non-CMYK

non-CMYK    | CMYK

To resolve these cases, a pre-processor was implemented that would correct the images.

This was the resulting pseudocode from the implementation:

// CMYK Image Pre-processing
if (input_image is JPG, GIF, TIF, or EPS) {
   if (input_image is "CMYK") {
      if(input_image doesn't have embedded CMYK profile) {
         Embed a CMYK profile on input_image
      }
   }
}

// CMYK Image Conversion Process
if(input_image is CMYK) {
   convert by embedding sRGB profile on output
} else {
   convert using "-colorspace sRGB"
}

 

Conclusion

Even high profile media organizations with a global client base can rely on open source solution as the basis for their own tools and applications. The increasing demand for high quality media, unique internal product requirements, and the expanding volume of overall content requires a robust, flexible and scalable product. The continued partnership between PR Newswire and EnterMedia is proof that enterprise clients can rely on the software, support and personnel at EnterMedia.

“We’ve worked very very closely with them on new features and issue resolution with great success.”

– Morgan Tiley – Senior Developer