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The Metaglue Informer

If you're curious how our products or how MXF can work for you, chances are someone's asked us before. See our frequently asked questions below. 


If you don't see what you're looking for drop us a line!

What is Metadata?

Metadata is defined simply as "data about the data". However, in a "broadcast" context is usually taken to mean extra information about the audio / video content. Although the term itself has only recently become common in the broadcast industry, metadata has been with us for years. Sticky labels on tape cassettes and programme notes stuffed into tape boxes are all metadata.

What has changed recently is that with the introduction of file based transfer of material, the metadata can be added electronically to the A/V content (which is also known as the "essence").

The exciting part (and, yes, it is exciting) is that lots more useful information can be added in a way that you have specifically chosen.

Metadata Basics

How is metadata going to help my business?

For a start, "tying" the metadata to the essence means that content is more easily found and you know what you have found.

However, with only a small amount of imagination, the possible benefits can be enormous. In particular, you can automate many processes that require "human" knowledge to work.

As a few examples:-
Content management
For example, you can ensure that the content is accurately labelled for transmission, with the correct format or aspect ratio going to the distribution channel. You can be confident that rights usage is documented and used correctly, which can be a nightmare to manage currently.

Process control
Today it can be very difficult to convincingly combine "real" video material with computer generated backgrounds, particularly keeping the two in step through complicated moves. If changes to the camera position and lens settings are captured during the shoot and stored as metadata, this information can control the changes in the animated background. This will both speed up the task and give a more convincing result to the viewer.

Resale of content
If someone approaches your company to buy clips of an external shot of a café in Paris in the rain, are you likely to have that material? More importantly, could you find it? And yet the information is known at the time of shooting and could easily have been captured. This can make the difference between an easy sale and a difficult sale - or even no sale at all.

In reality, the list of possible benefits is endless. But only a small amount of thought is needed to identify the business goals and key processes that can be helped.


When I open an MXF file which has been through post production and check the contents with MXFixer, I see error messages that I do not recognize. What are they?

Avid makes more use of the extension capabilities of MXF than any other manufacturer - both to include information for compatibility with AAF and to include bin column information. Unfortunately, few other MXF decoders are tolerant of these extensions, even though they comply with the SMPTE standard. MXFixer flags them all as warnings, and we advise you to do a test import into the downstream equipment to check that it can cope.


Can I be sure that a file I have received has good metadata?

This question has really two main parts. Firstly does the file have information in all the metadata fields that I require? Secondly, can we confirm the integrity of that information?

The Metaglue products that make it easy to answer both these questions are MXFixer and AAFixer. These products take apart the incoming file and analyse the metadata contained in it. There are several ways to display the information, depending on the requirements of the process at that stage.

However, a few of the options are:

  • to show all the metadata,

  • to show selected fields which are especially important to your operation or,

  • to give a simple "traffic light" display to show how closely the information matches your needs.

When used with Diffuser this makes a powerful combination that can understand nearly all (Is this too downbeat?) the metadata in a file and also create custom forms or XML scripts to import your own metadata.


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