CASE STUDY: MTV Vault Project
14 April 2017 - 14:35, by , in Case Studies, Metaforce, Comments off

pdf-downloadMetaforce, Crawford’s cloud-based, descriptive metadata solution, specializes in onshore human generated descriptive metadata and clip selection. When Viacom specified metadata tagging as part of its MTV Vault Project, Metaforce was the ideal solution to meet the challenge. The immediate success of the project – allowing all MTV teams from MTV News to programming, promos, press and more dive into the archive – was in large part the result of the the media files tagged by Metaforce.



MTV originated with music video programming. Three minutes at a time, MTV’s newly coined “VJ”s toured viewers through the world of music. As the network evolved, so too did its programming. Music programming gave way to reality, comedy and drama series. All in all, the network was left with thousands of hours of footage sitting in boxes. Thus was born the MTV Vault project.


“The MTV Vault Project sought to transform the footage tape library into a curated digital library,” said Jamie DiVenere, project manager of Viacom’s Vault Project. “The three-track project involved identifying valuable assets, digitization, and descriptive metadata writing.”


Once relevant content was selected and digitized, the project team was faced with the challenge of identifying potential programming. Descriptive metadata was essential, including artists, song titles, interview topics and keywords for all digitized resources. To implement the metadata tagging, Viacom selected Metaforce by Crawford Media Services.



Accurate metadata records are the best way to add value to digital assets. Budget and labor allocation often makes internal metadata entry a challenge. In most workflows, the processes of data entry are not streamlined and metadata tends to be inconsistent and therefore less useful. Organizations typically face inadequate staffing to tackle the demands of constantly writing metadata.


Metaforce specializes in descriptive metadata writing. “Because it utilizes an experienced, distributed workforce of media contractors, Metaforce is able to deliver the hyper-efficient results outlined by Viacom, said Corinne Whitney, Director of Content Services for Metaforce. “Our skilled team accesses the Viacom content through a secure, proprietary platform, using custom-built, cloud-based tools. A key differentiator of the service is the ability to centrally manage tasks, files, and metadata services. As content and metadata needs change, so too does the allocation of Metaforce staff to the project.”


High-value content services were customized by the Metaforce team to fit the the needs of the MTV Vault Project, allowing Viacom to focus on reusing their original content.



Metaforce leverages a distributed workforce of contractors to catalogue studio recordings, live programs, on-site events, awards elements, and source tapes. The team adheres to strict Viacom guidelines to identify talent, activities, interviews and performances that have potential reuse value.


With over three decades-worth of programming and source tapes to screen and describe, scaling the remote catalogue team to suit the needs of the project was key. Metaforce engineers developed an API with Viacom’s internal DAM system that made it possible to both stream secure video for tagging, and export the metadata back to Viacom for immediate use.


In 2016 alone, 46,615 assets (media files of video tapes) were metadata tagged, creating 301,602 unique fully described events, each with 22 descriptive fields. Complete metadata was then imported into Viacom’s digital asset management (DAM) system. The resulting searchability allows the Viacom editorial teams to curate and reuse clips from the freshly tagged interviews, appearances, performances, and news pieces for future programming and social media content.



DiVenere spoke at the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), and shared some successes of the cataloguing efforts. MTV, VH1, CMT and Comedy Central collections house an important pop culture video archive that Viacom was ready to both preserve and share.


“The transition from physical production elements into a master class digital archive logged within the Music Group’s internal CMS system is a large scale feat,” said DiVenere. Converting production source tapes, master tapes and audio source tapes, into a curated digital library now allows Viacom to better leverage the value of their content for reuse and monetization. Metaforce was a critical component.



The MTV Vault Project was extensive, when considering the amount of content and number of assets that were catalogued. Despite this project’s immense scope, Viacom utilized just a portion of what can be accomplished with Metaforce.


About author:
Director of Content Services at Crawford Media Services. Since 2014, Corinne has spearheaded the remote workforce for Crawford’s metadata tagging division Metaforce. Under her guidance, the Metaforce team has tagged 45,000 media files and 300,000 unique records for Viacom’s MTV Vault project. During her Emmy-Award winning career in post-production, Corinne worked to streamline deliveries in new technologies (SD to HD, Stereo to Surround Sound, Analogue to File-based) across hundreds of hours of documentary content for television.

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