Digital Nirvana – Russell Wise, NAB 2019 Interview

Russ Wise Interview with Digital Production Buzz

Russell Wise, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Digital Nirvana, in this interview to Larry Jordan of Digital Production Buzz from their booth on the NABShow 2019 exhibit floor, describes how Digital Nirvana provides compliance, management solutions, and services for their audience including networks, TV stations, and governments across the United States and outside.

Larry Jordan: Hi. This is Larry Jordan, the host of the Digital Production Buzz. The following interview was recorded live on the exhibit floor of the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas. For all of our NAB interviews, visit digitalproductionbuzz.com. Thinking of cool stuff though, I want to introduce you to a company called Digital Nirvana. Russell Wise is the Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing of Digital Nirvana. Russell thanks for joining us today.

Russell Wise: Hey, pleasure to be here Larry.

Larry Jordan: Give me a description of what Digital Nirvana does.

Russell Wise: A lot of different things. Think of us as a compliance logger and monitor, we’re looking at video, metadata, in a sense we’re a big DVR that records everything from the output of a TV station, satellite receiver, we’re collecting all that information video and metadata so people can review it for compliance reasons.

Larry Jordan: Compliance reason means what?

Russell Wise: Good. First and foremost is FCC compliance. Was there any objectionable video in that or closed captions present? There’s loudness regulation around loudness or regulations in that area. So just to make sure that you’ve broadcasted your content in compliance with government regulations. People also have internal standards and compliance issues. So, if CBS is going to put out an advertisement, it’s got to meet their internal standards for what they would put out. For example, graphics and the branding that might occur and that broadcast have to be there.

Larry Jordan: But stations and networks watch their stuff all the time anyway. They’re not going to put an ad on air that somebody hasn’t looked at. Why do they need you?

Russell Wise: Sometimes if somebody is called into question, they’ll get a phone call and say, closed captioning did not run with their programming. And they’ve got to defend themselves; even back to the FCC, so videos are the perfect affidavit or defense to show that you did. And you are correct, they always QC those ads coming in, but when they go out, sometimes it’s not as perfect as they like it to, including, dropping that ad. It’s gone, and at that point, they’ll get a call from Procter and Gamble and say, hey, what happened to my ad? If you run, they can say here it is, I can invoice you now and you can pay. So, it’s a proof of performance issue right?

Larry Jordan: As opposed — yes, so justification or legal defense, so it serves all of that stuff; cover your posterior.

Russell Wise: Yes, exactly. It’s a good form of insurance, is what we’re selling here.

Larry Jordan: So, who would be people that purchase your services? Is it just the networks?

Russell Wise: Not just networks, it’s TV stations and of course, they are transmitting, a lot of that content goes into OTT. So, they’ll have to look at that level of monitoring. To a lesser degree, governments — think of some TV stations in Malaysia is really is a government broadcast and so they had to keep close tabs on what was said; for that reason.

Larry Jordan: Are most of your clients inside the US or outside?

Russell Wise: I would say 60%, 70% inside, but across the globe, it’s a common problem for different reasons. They all have government regulations to comply with and sometimes there’s censorship issues in other countries.

Larry Jordan: So I’m a TV station, I decide to buy your services. What am I buying? Am I buying a box, or software, or a cloud or what?

Russell Wise: It could be all of the above. For example, it can be on-prem where we are recording locally. We have instances in the cloud and sometimes hybrid models. It just depends on economics and what really makes sense. In addition to that, we have a set of services; we call these web-based micro-services that we’re now applying to that product line, which is where it gets interesting for me at least, because it’s sort of artificial intelligence applications on this particular product.

Larry Jordan: Well, I was just thinking, if you’ve got all these hundreds of hours of material, how will you find something?

Russell Wise: The traditional methods, you can search by time and date. Closed captioning is indexing, search by closed captioning, but that’s where it gets interesting is now with video recognition technologies, we have an application where you can search that database for faces, objects, scene change, even start to program and then look for objectionable content; things that you shouldn’t say and find that. For example, if you’re doing a sports recording and I want to see how many times a product placement occurred, and — then I can go back to my advertiser and say yeah, seven times there it is, and they’ll get your invoice again.

Larry Jordan: Get me paid again.

Russell Wise: Yes, get me paid.

Larry Jordan: So, NAB is about new and new technology. What have you got for us that’s new in the last period of time.

Russell Wise: I think it’s this cloud-based set of services that I alluded to. In that bundle, there are a couple of things. There is a module that’s closed caption generation via speech-to-text. So, instead of transcribing by a human, it’s getting — there’s almost been a tipping point where that technology is affordable and very accurate, right, and it just keeps —

Larry Jordan: Don’t push me on very accurate. I’ll take accurate, but I won’t take very accurate.

Russell Wise: I won’t debate you too hard on that one, but it’s getting beyond the 90, we’ve seen 94%. We’ve recorded the financial statements, the earnings call that happens, and we’re really getting into that 94%, 95%, 96% range with financial speakers, you know how they talk.

Larry Jordan: Yes, I’ve never had that level of accuracy. I’ve been probably in the high 80s, I’ve had to do a lot of clean up. You and I may be using different services, but you’re right, auto-speech detection has just exploded over the last year. What else have you added this year?

Russell Wise: We have another process by which we can look at closed captioning and assess its quality. With all the people publishing to digital platforms, Netflix, Hulu has very strong criteria about the closed captioning that you submit to them. So, it will essentially look at your closed captioning in your files and say is this Netflix compliant? If it is, you push it to Netflix, if not, you can fix it.

Larry Jordan: That implies that the producer has access to your services. You’ve said everything about broadcasts, studios, but never producers. Can producers use you as well?

Russell Wise: Yes, absolutely. We have a product that fits in with Avid. It interconnects with Avid, takes the file out of Avid, pushes it to cloud, transcribes, indexes, pushes it back into Avid and markers, so that now it first gives you a great way to go and to find what content you looked at out of thousands of hours to create a 30 minute show. So, we just introduced that at the Avid show this weekend, very well received. The same product uses the video recognition engine, it can go in and index videos, scene changes, or whatever objects, speakers that you’re looking for in the video.

Larry Jordan: How about people that are using Premiere or Final Cut, which does not have Avid as its back-end. Can they just bring you a file and have your software analyze it?

Russell Wise: Yes, you could push this above to a hot folder and the way we would go.

Larry Jordan: What software do I need for that?

Russell Wise: Nothing really, you’d have the mechanism to push it to a hot folder, we’ll pick it up from there, and then it becomes sort of end-to-end system or a system, yes.

Larry Jordan: So, looking at it from the small workgroup, or the individual producer, what’s like getting started cost?

Russell Wise: Let’s see. You start to talk about by the hour really. It’s, I think in terms of $30 to $50 per hour as we index that and move it back into your system.

Larry Jordan: So, totally affordable for people that are producing just a few hours of content; networks can afford their own, but for independent producers, for less than $100, they could have their show reviewed. That is very cool. I always thought of you as enterprise based and hundreds of millions of dollars in cost. It’s nice to be able to have something which is much more affordable than that.

Russell Wise: Yes, it’s changing.

Larry Jordan: That is true. For people that are interested in learning more about the services you offer, where do they go on the web?

Russell Wise: digital-nirvana.com.

Larry Jordan: That’s two separate words, divided by a dash; digital-nirvana.com. Russell Wise is the Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing for Digital Nirvana. Russell, have yourself a great show. I wish you great success with both the show and coming here.

Russell Wise: Thanks, Larry. Enjoy the day.

Larry Jordan: Thank you.

Link to Audio Interview