In the six months since Richie Murray joined the Forscene commercial team as Sales Director for North America, working in conjunction with Jeff Krebs, he has strengthened our position in the territory. With some early significant wins for Forscene and some great leads lined up post a successful NAB, I thought I’d catch up with the ever-busy businessman to discuss the differences in our Forscene US offering and where he expects it to go from here.
Richie, what is the number one hurdle to overcome with selling Forscene to the North American market?
Simply put, it’s people believing the performance of it. When you tell them it’s a cloud-based editor built on its own powerful codec, they’re sceptical. “How can that be?” is the first question they normally ask, closely followed by “how can I trust its performance?”
Of course it’s very easy for me to put people’s minds at rest, because Forscene is a powerful and secure platform used by some of the biggest names in the broadcast industry. For example, we were used on the Olympics in 2012 for NBCU’s highlights factory producing web and mobile packages and are currently integrated into a number of US news stations’ workflows. We’re also seeing traction with production companies like Leftfield and Magilla Entertainment signing up to use Forscene for use on entertainment shows.
Performance is powered by the Blackbird codec, which is Forscene’s own proprietary proxy. It is designed to handle the proxies of content as high as 4K resolution, with development in process to handle the emergence of 8K – it’s really cutting edge stuff!
What are the key selling points of the Forscene platform?
I would say the fact that it’s cloud-based is definitely number one. This means clients can work remotely, from any location, so long as they have an Internet connection – and it doesn’t have to be super-fast high-speed Internet either! Users have to feel like the content is locally attached and the experience is seamless, with no buffering. This point often links back to the first question, as people worry about how secure the platform is and how quickly they can work with it – we have a security statement on our website that will alleviate these concerns. Forscene really can speed up many kinds of video productions. Take news for example, where you can go from the live recording to breaking news clips being delivered to social media or the web in less than 2 minutes. This is ground breaking and gives our clients the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors.
Coming back to the point about Forscene being cloud-based, how does that work exactly?
Well, our editor runs in a browser, so there’s no need to download anything the first time you set it up. Forscene transcodes proxies of the original media and ingests either static or live growing files into the editor, where a stream can be available a few seconds behind the live content, if that’s your use case, or the dailies will use our intelligent download system to load the media around the playback bar – so no need to wait for the whole clip to load before working with it.
We can also integrate with cloud infrastructure such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon’s AWS cloud, where Forscene will transcode media through a Forscene Virtual Machine running on these third party cloud systems for delivery into the Forscene editor. Once the content has been edited in Forscene, the sequence can then either be exported to social media, or the web or a CDN, or be pushed back to the Azure or AWS cloud.
What other features in Forscene do you feel are worth highlighting for selling into the North American market?
All of them! I think what’s more important to highlight here is which features have been developed specifically for US client needs. I’m working closely with prospective clients here in the US to understand their needs and how Forscene can be adapted to work for them. A lot of it is similar to the UK market, but actually there are some key differences. Take double system audio, for instance: whilst not really used in the UK and Europe, productions here rely on this feature, and earlier this year the R&D team worked relentlessly and now we have double system audio available as a feature in the platform.
Closed captions are another feature that we’ve improved the functionality of in 2016, with advancements to how they display and can be edited on the timeline. They’re so easy to add and edit in Forscene and can be published with the final videos.
I think the last thing to add here as well, is how I work alongside Forscene’s Regional Manager, Jeff Krebs. Having been around the industry for a long time, Jeff is well respected and clients like how he handles the pre- and post-sales support, from training and demos to platform support. I’d say Jeff’s knowledge of the product, combined with my sales experience makes us a winning team to take on the US market!
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Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre