By Terence Keegan, M&E Daily
Media fulfillment and post-production services provider 2G Digital is leveraging accelerated file transfer software by Signiant to further expand its digital delivery business.
Burbank-based 2G — one of five iTunes Preferred Vendors — currently delivers between 350 and 450 movies and television programs per week from studio clients to Apple for electronic sell-through via iTunes stores in the U.S., Germany, Japan, Mexico, and other territories. 2G owner Chuck Filliettaz tells M&E Daily that the recent installation of Signiant’s accelerated file transfer software — combined with the facility’s high-speed, fiber-optic infrastructure — has enabled the company to operate at greater capacity.
2G Digital’s post-production roots date back to 1993; the company began adding services such as digital backup and delivery following the advent of full-HD production and nonlinear editing 10 years ago. Initially, digital preparation and distribution services resisted classification. “For a long time we were saying, “We’re ‘post-post-production,’” Filliettaz says. “’Fulfillment’ is a little bit better.”
The company’s clients include major movie and TV studios which rely on 2G to ready content for sale as iTunes downloads, and to prepare programs for distribution on other digital platforms.
After one longtime studio client began requesting “special deliveries” for global markets, Filliettaz says, 2G hit upon a service niche of preparing international versions of digital content. Filliettaz says that electronic sell-through files used to contain audio dubs and subtitles for only one language. Now, the facility delivers films and TV series to Apple in what are known as “three-twelve” packages, containing three dubbed languages and subtitles in 12 languages, as the digital retailer shifts to more of a “global packaging of content.”
“Global packaging” for iTunes currently comprises more than half of 2G’s fulfillment business, Filliettaz estimates.
Matt Thomas, Signiant account manager, notes that the demand growth for digital delivery services coincides with studios’ changing approaches to global content distribution. “Where we have seen the heaviest adoption of our tools” by studios, Thomas says, is in the facilitation of “international day-and-date releases for theatrical [features], as well as condensed timeframes for television releases.”
Signiant’s Media Manager software provides security, management, and control of automated file exchanges between 2G Digital and studio clients that also have Signiant software installations (or “agents”), speeding tasks such as the processing of raw content, the addition of metadata and closed captions, and formatting conversions. With Signiant’s Media Exchange software, 2G can initiate desktop-to-desktop file transfers, which in turn enables secure delivery of finished content to playout centers and broadcasting facilities.
Acceleration of file transfers is crucial in a business that’s increasingly time-pressured, observes Filliettaz. “It’s a little like skiing on an avalanche,” he quips. “We are often given 200 to 300 titles at a time [from a given studio], on a two-week turnaround. But there’s always something inside of [each group of titles] that will be 48 hours.”
While much of the electronic sell-through package preparation still must be “done by hand to get it right,” Filliettaz says that 2G is automating “sections of the workflow” as the business commoditizes.
Filliettaz adds that while many of 2G’s major-studio customers had already employed Signiant software themselves, the facility’s installation will simplify digital delivery for more clients. “We do deals with independents that only do a few features a year,” Filliettaz notes; with these clients, “Signiant really helps level the playing field.”