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Specification Project Aims to Revolutionize Data Authenticity

The Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) and automation experts from the Fabric and Flomenco used the Sept. 15 ITS: Automation event, held during IBC at the W Amsterdam, to give an exclusive sneak peek into the Authenticated Data Specification (ADS).

Those behind the groundbreaking project within the 2023 IBC Accelerator program are looking to revolutionize data authenticity and availability, shaping the future of entertainment data in an increasingly interconnected media landscape.

During the ITS: Automation panel session “Authenticated Metadata: Why it Matters for Automation,” the panel provided insights into the collaborative efforts, technical innovations and industry collaborations that have driven the creation of the new specification.

“This is sort of a flagship IBC fast track program, where they kind of sell it as an apparatus for lots of different businesses to get together and solve an industry problem kind of for the benefit of everyone,” Andrew Holland, VP of data services at Fabric, explained.

“I think the good thing about the IBC Accelerator is it kind of gives you this artificial timeline, so you get everyone together; you get all these big names in a room [and] everyone agrees to do it and they’re paid a fee,” he said.

And then suddenly you look up and you’ve got three months” to meet and give a status update on “this colossal project,” he added. “It really focuses everyone’s mind. They realize IBC is coming down the track and we’ve got to do this. And it really is amazing what you can get done … when the pressure’s there and the company logo’s up there and everything has to happen in time.”

He added: “The industry challenge we’re trying to solve is very frustrating for some of my clients when they look out and they see that the data they’ve spent lots of money” on to create marketing material “ends up not being the data the public are getting to see at the end of the show.”

What is also being seen is that “because there is no standard … when you’re delivering metadata, there’s this endless multiplicity of having to customize deliveries for each” customer you’re delivering it to and it’s “just a big-time suck, wasting everybody’s time,” he said.

“So, we thought … if we can kill two birds with one stone, we’ll create a system of authenticating and verifying the canonical, essential metadata fields for studios and content owners [and] data owners,” he explained.

To do that, he said, they realized they must “first define what the essential metadata fields are … and then, from there, we’ll need to create a system of actual authentication [and] verification that will propagate this authenticated data out there, and then [provide] kind of a stamp – an actual sort of recognized industry stamp of authentication. Kind of like, I suppose, what you get in Europe on like a really fine cheese.”

Moderator Hollie Choi, managing director of EIDR, went on to introduce guest speaker Justin Briars, director of studio products and services at Fox Entertainment, who noted there are indeed challenges for content publishers, metadata aggregators, and other partners and vendors in the industry that include a lack of efficiency and duplication of efforts.

The ADS project has a chance to solve those challenges thanks to, among other things, the many companies that have been involved so far, Briars said, noting the problem wouldn’t get any better anytime soon without a solution such as ADS.

Ryan McKeague, Flomenco CEO, went on to tell viewers that his company’s “no code media workflow platform … really takes the complexity out of building media workflows and empowers the users to do that.”

Much like the previous project, the Cloud Localization Blueprint, there are many different partner products involved with ADS, including Fabric on the metadata management side, EIDR doing ID management and, in this case, the new ADS service doing the verification and provenance part of the data, McKeague said.

“You have all these different systems and, while they’re all amazing systems on their own, the real business value comes when you connect all these things together and create a workflow that achieves business value,” McKeague said, explaining: “That’s really what Flamenco does: [It] allows customers to do that very quickly and cost efficiently.”

Choi asked Richard Kroon, director of technical operations at EIDR, how ADS is different from EIDR’s ID system.

“EIDR is four characters long,” Kroon joked, before explaining: “EIDR is focused on identification: globally unique, curated identifiers so you have certainty of what the content you’re talking about is. Whether it be an abstract work, a cut, an encoding — whatever it is — with clarity. But it keeps the bare minimum metadata to accomplish that.

Only just enough for unambiguous identification and deduplication. It doesn’t have synopsis, genre, local release dates, full cast and crew, the names of the characters played by the actors. These things aren’t present in EIDR, not available in EIDR, never have been and never will be in EIDR.”

And that is what ADS is providing, he added: “a standardized mechanism to encapsulate all that material and deliver it in a way that people can consume without having to build unique point-to-point interfaces for every single vendor they’re trying to work with, upstream or downstream.”

The inaugural ITS: Automation event was produced by MESA and sponsored by Amazon Studios Technology, Fabric, Eluvio, EIDR, and HAND (Human & Digital).