Ascent aims to take lead in digital post

Company unveils products at NAB

With post-production becoming increasingly digital, Ascent Media Group is set to roll out a suite of services that will enable its clients to digitally manage all aspects of the process, from content creation to distribution.

The Santa Monica-based post-production conglom, owned by John Malone, will use the National Assn. of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas this week to unveil four products that target the film, television and commercials industries:

  • A Digital Screener Service that will enable its clients to electronically access films, TV shows, trailers and commercials that are stored in a digital vault, rather than search through footage housed on VHS tapes or DVDs. Video and other content can also be delivered with antipiracy protections and accessed remotely worldwide from any computer with Internet access

  • DRMD, a service that enables users to package and distribute elements required for alternate language dubbing reference materials and regional DVD authoring

  • A Media Tracker service that specifically targets marketers and advertising agencies, giving them the ability to store and electronically deliver audio and video files via high-speed Web lines

  • Ascent Media’s Virtual Telecine, which creates high-resolution digital file masters for any video format.

Ascent said that the new products, three of which are part of the company’s overall digital asset management system, aim to make the post process faster and more cost-efficient by enabling clients to eliminate the need to duplicate videotapes and ship them worldwide via traditional methods.

But they’ll also help Ascent become a one-stop shop, keeping clients inhouse rather than have them go elsewhere when they need post-production work done.

Ascent formerly operated as Liberty Livewire, which was founded in 2000 to oversee more than 50 facilities in five countries that Malone had acquired in a post house shopping spree. Those companies included post heavyweights such as Four Media Co., Todd-AO, Soundelux, Riot, Encore, Method, POP, Level 3, Soho 601 and Rushes.

Idea was to consolidate the various facils and their 3,700 staffers into one company in order to offer clients a one-stop source anywhere in the world to produce, manage and distribute entertainment programming.

Ascent now operates as three divisions — Ascent Media Creative Services, Ascent Media Network Services and Ascent Media Management Services — to handle everything from telecine, online and offline editing and f/x to sound mixing, DVD authoring, encoding, uplink services, Internet delivery and video-on-demand.

The post biz has long been talking about creating a one-stop shop to digitally manage entertainment content. However, facilities have found it difficult to develop a way to deal with the multiple hardware or video formats their clients use.

“It’s a lot more complicated than people think,” said Bill Humphrey, prexy of Ascent Media Management Services. “There’s a lot of software out there that’s not all tied together. The ability to do that is complicated. People are using video and physical assets that are different. A platform needed to be designed to organize all that technology.”

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