SONUMA - Digital media asset management

SONUMA optimises 80 years of French-language audiovisual archives with the NETIA content management system

sonumaFounded with a view to preserving and promoting Belgian French-language audiovisual libraries, the majority of which came from RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge Francophone), SONUMA chose the NETIA Media Asset Management system as the tool for automating its business processes.
A choice that will make the recovery and broadcasting of archives by RTBF and other media easier.

sonuma audiovisual archive software« Since we were founded in 2009, it has been a fundamental aspect of our business plan to implement high-end technological solutions, and the NETIA system in particular, to make the most of the RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge Francophone) archives, which we officially own ,» explains Eric Denis, IT Manager at SONUMA. « In total there are 120,000 hours of programming in the archives, a real goldmine, with radio segments going back more than 80 years and some even recorded in 78 rpm format. The TV archives go back to 1953. But if we don't do everything we can to protect and upgrade them, they will continue to deteriorate and will hardly get used. »

The protection and upgrading work done by SONUMA was undertaken in three main stages. First, an inventory was made of all of the collections and digitisation priorities were defined. Then, media damaged by wear and time were cleaned and restored before being digitised, a task that SONUMA decided to outsource to one of its partner.And finally, new life was injected into this collective memory:
« For the digitised records to be used, we need to know what they contain.

They had to be sequenced and as much information or metadata as possible attached to each sequence (for instance the names of people appearing in a broadcast, when the programmes were aired, the topics covered, etc.). They then had to be catalogued according to various criteria to allow the people who wanted to access them (documentalists, journalists, columnists) to do so easily,» says Tiffany Tallec, Operations Manager.
« And of course, this information will have to be updated regularly to keep track of the use of each archive. »


The NETIA Media Asset Management system chosen for its comprehensive document management features

belgium audiovisual archive softwareTo approach archive management in a professional manner, SONUMA issued an invitation to tender at the beginning of 2010. The contract was awarded to NETIA. «The NETIA product stood out from the six other bidders as it offered more comprehensive document management features, which we really needed,» recalls Eric Denis.

« For example, it incorporates the concept of Thesaurus, enables fine-grained information to be attached (metadata for practically every image) and has a very powerful search engine. In addition, compared to the other software editors, NETIA, which has a wealth of experience in radio automation, promised to incorporate into its solution the features necessary for displaying the waveform on audio records, which account for over half of our archives.

This waveform visualisation, which makes the sequences visible to the naked eye like with video files, will enable us to catalogue pieces of radio archives more quickly without having to listen to them all the way through

Once the decision had been made to go with the NETIA Media Asset Management solution (MAM), SONUMA's IT Department designed the best possible processes for documentary management of its archives. These processes were then programmed using the NETIA Workflow Engine, which automates execution of these processes.


More comprehensive thesaurus to increase archive use

audiovisual media archive softwareThe first workflow streamlines processing of «ingest» or acquisition of media and uses various tools: Baton software (from Interra Systems) for quality control of media digitised upstream, and Carbon Coder software (from Rhozet) to transcode the checked files to make them available in high and low resolutions. The NETIA Media Asset Management application is then used to integrate the media, and any non-enhanced metadata from various databases, inventories, press releases, etc., gathered by SONUMA, into the central data base. Using the NETIA MAM Module, one can then visualise the low-resolution media in order to sequence it, enhance their metadata or add new metadata. The metadata-enriched media are then indexed in the document data base of the system.

«The NETIA solution has allowed us to overhaul our existing thesaurus to make them much more comprehensive: Casting, Locations (with tree structure for each continent, country, city, etc.), Collection and so on,» continues Tiffany Tallec.
«These thesaurus, which have different structure levels, are then used for multi-criteria document
searches. They increase the possibilities of an archive being used, thus enhancing it


From marketing to monetising archives...

sonuma audiovisual archive softwareThe other workflow or processes in the finalisation phase automate use of the archives, from when an item is ordered to its export into different formats: document files in xml format, high or low definition digitised documents. The first people to benefit from such a workflow were SONUMA's team of archivists and columnists, those given the task of managing the future website (, a site designed to provide the general public with a selection of moments that best represent the history of radio and television in French-speaking Belgium. Their workflow enables to select the archives they want to promote, using the NETIA Media Asset Management module (MAM), summarise them with a short article and then put their subject online.

Another process, automated from start to finish and launched once a day, populates an RTBF database with the newly entered or modified metadata. An export workflow, accessible directly from the radio or TV production tools used by RTBF journalists, columnists and technicians, enables them to look up these document files, create an order basket with the archive sequences they want to feature in their programme, then import the corresponding high-definition files.

«Thanks to the possibilities it offers us in terms of smart media asset management and process automation, the NETIA solution opens up many possible opportunities for promoting more of our archives to the general public and professionals alike,» concludes Eric Denis. «For example, we have a joint project running with Télévision Suisse Romande, Radio Canada and INA to create a gateway for professionals as a way of promoting and monetising our respective archives. This gateway, which will be populated by the SONUMA archives through the NETIA asset management solution, is a way of bringing the unique heritage of our past to life, and making all of the strategic work we are doing to safeguard it worthwhile.»


SONUMA gives new life to the RTBF archives

Founded in 2009 and with a share capital of €40 million, SONUMA (SOciété de NUMérisation et de commercialisation des Archives audiovisuelles) is a subsidiary of RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge Francophone), FWB (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles) and the Walloon region of Belgium. Its mission is to preserve, digitise and monetise RTBF's TV and radio archives, which it owns. These archives, stored until now on various media (16 mm film, one inch tape, Beta SP and digital cassettes, CD, cassette, DAT, 78 rpm disc), cover 80 years of radio production and 60 years of French-language TV production.

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