Levels Beyond streamlines video and search
The digital explosion in media continues
Levels Beyond’s client list reads like a who’s who of big media brands. Blue-chip customers like Disney, Warner Brothers, UFC, NASCAR, and Sundance use the company’s Reach Engine platform to manage – and leverage – vast libraries of video content.
“We have 82 clients and they are all huge,” says Levels Beyond CEO Art Raymond. “Three quarters of them go to phase two, phase three, phase four, and stay with us for life.”
Founded in 2000, the company has grown to about 60 employees at its headquarters, a converted warehouse in Denver’s RiNo Art District. Sales growth is exceeding 200 percent for the third straight year.
“The digital explosion in media continues,” Raymond says.“That revolution is 20 percent in, so there’s still 80 percent to go. We as an industry have reached a complexity point that manufacturing plants hit in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”
That means some serious innovation is in order. Before implementing Reach Engine, he says that most customers “have six or seven island systems” – and at least a few typically involve Excel spreadsheets.”We’re sort of like the platform of platforms. We bring the whole thing together into one coherent play.” Some clients manage a library of tens of thousands of shows across 80 different platforms with just three people.
If an editor inside Adobe Premiere wanted to search for a relevant clip, explains Raymond, “You can literally search your whole library worldwide from inside Adobe.”
And producers can map out production schedules, work with contracts, and track video from a mobile device, he adds. “It’s like a manifest.”
Users can also employ Reach Engine to tap into unedited news footage and produce and coordinate the launch of teasers across broadcast and social media channels to build awareness before the story runs.
“Think of us like how Google is a platform and Youtube is a platform and Facebook is a platform,” says Raymond. “We started to develop apps on our own platform.”
One such app, dynamic clipping, allows remote Reach Engine users to pull relevant video clips from a network’s sea of video in real time from anywhere on the planet. “With one tap, they can distribute a clip to 16 platforms,” says Raymond. “It’s a whole new world of advertising.”
He continues, “People buy us to create businesses and manage media as a business. They buy us to ignite their model.”
Carol McDaniel, vice president of administration and operations at AXS TV and HDNet Movies in Denver, says Reach Engine has done exactly that. “It has sped up our post-production processes as well as make them more robust,” she explains. “More users are able to work with more content more quickly and deliver it in more ways.”
Levels Beyond’s market has grown beyond major media corporations to encompass religious institutions, NFL teams, and such national brands and retailers as Red Bull and Kroger. Raymond says the target market is “as soon as you hit 10 or more people working and collaborating together” or any distributed teams working with large amounts of video.
The Philadelphia Eagles use Reach Engine to manage everything from mobile content to scoreboard videos. “We became the digital glue for them,” says Raymond. “If they’re shooting tailgate parties, they can throw it on the Jumbotron, Facebook and everywhere else.”
For most of Levels Beyond’s customers, the sheer amount of video produced is too much for the current cloud. A single NASCAR broadcast, for example, can generate 14 to 20 terabytes of video. “Reach Engine has to exist because you can’t move 14 terabytes to the cloud,” says Raymond.
“We’re an automation factory,” he says. “It’s not uncommon for clients to have tens of millions of workflows a month. It’s not uncommon for them to process 400 terabytes in a week.”