Ohanian now avid to distribute Signiant


The name Signiant might be unfamiliar to many in the industry, but the company's vp product management Tom Ohanian is not.

Ohanian is co-inventor of the Avid nonlinear editing system that led the transition from film-based linear editing to computer-based digital nonlinear editing. For his efforts, he was the recipient of a 1994 Emmy for the Avid Media Composer, a 1995 Academy Award for Scientific and Engineering Achievement for the Avid Film Composer -- which was upgraded in 1999 to the Academy Award of Merit, an Oscar statuette -- and a 1998 Emmy for the Avid Multicamera System.

Ohanian joined Signiant about five months ago with the belief that another watershed is coming.

"This digital media revolution is disrupting traditional business models, blurring the lines between content creators and content consumers and creating workflow, distribution and content-ownership issues," he says. "To face these issues and take advantage of new business opportunities, content producers need to implement a comprehensive digital media distribution management strategy. ... We are seeing the requirement -- because of file-based workflow -- to be able to put content on a network and coordinate its movement to all the constituents that have to add to it, review it and collaborate, and then ultimately deliver it to a new set of distribution venues."

Signiant has addressed this challenge with a new Digital Media Distribution Management Suite, a software system designed to implement a digital media distribution system within the file-based workflows of media and entertainment companies. This week, it was announced that NBC Universal has standardized its operations using this new development.

The Signiant system has been incorporated into NBC Universal's worldwide technical infrastructure to facilitate tasks including the dissemination of news content to affiliates, the ingest of user-generated material, the upload/download of television content to reviewers worldwide, the movement of movie content from studios to and from postproduction facilities and the delivery of finished content to networks and online portals.

"It's basically the superhighway for electronic delivery," says Rab Mukraj, NBC Universal director of distributed media management. "We decided that digital media distribution management is not something we could piece together from parts of other technologies. We were able to rapidly deploy (Signiant's technology) seamlessly with our existing infrastructure to enhance, automate and extend our everyday operations." He adds that while content movement is not new, the Signiant system offered a unique approach with its file-based functionality.

Time was critical. "Studios need to be able to do this today. With YouTube and Google changing the paradigm ... it's about (delivering) what the market wants to see and being first to market," Mukraj says. "(This distribution system) is one of the highest-ranked projects for our CTO."

Says Ohanian: "I think our company can become as significant as Avid has become in the industry. Most people don't realize that the category of digital nonlinear editing didn't exist (when Avid was founded). I think that Signiant is at the forefront of creating a new category: digital media distribution management."