We Asked Employees – What Makes Our Workplace Special?

Workplace culture. It’s something many companies invest a lot of time thinking about. At Chesapeake Systems, we’re thankful to have built a team of talented, intelligent, dedicated, funny employees. They’re energized by what they do and they work hard to provide an exceptional client experience. I personally am thankful that every single person on the team has strong values and ethics along with the wisdom to apply these values to help our clients achieve their goals. I really couldn’t be more proud of our team.

This holiday season, we wanted to give employees the chance to share, in their own words, why they’re thankful for the Chesapeake Systems Family.

“I am very thankful to be a part of who Chesapeake Systems has become in my tenure. I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to share my life with the guys and gals here. It’s often baffling to me what these techies have been able to accomplish. cat[filename] (This is an inside joke for my esteemed colleagues.)”

– Saphrone Blade


“Chesapeake Systems isn’t just the name of an IT company, it’s the name of a family. We laugh, we cry, and we fight (not physically) but it’s all because we care, not only about each other, but about our clients, our work, and our future. I couldn’t be more thankful for being a part of the Chesapeake Systems family.”

– Marina Blandino


“I’m new to Chesapeake Systems. Before I joined, I spoke with colleagues who were customers, and all were uniformly enthusiastic about the company. Now onboard, I find the work ethic, esprit-de-corps and dedication to customer satisfaction to be fantastic. I’m very grateful to be part of this wonderful team!”

– David Garland


“Chesapeake is special in that a lot of us have been working for the company for 10 years or more. We really retain some of the brightest people in the industry, Mark has been amazing in that he has had a lot of savvy and fantastic luck in hiring great people. What’s kept me here is that we take care of each other. There have been hundreds of times where, in the thick of it, I’ve needed help with a given problem and have reached out to my coworkers and they immediately have the answer. We’re a young company and everyone is fun to be around. We have done amazing things. The most important takeaway is that we take care of each other and in many ways are a family.

I think something else that makes us special is that we understand the complexities of our relationships with each other. We work together in some semblance of a traditional hierarchy but we also respect and honor our friendships as we respect and honor our working relationships. We work closely, and candidly, and share knowledge openly to make everyone on the team better. I’ve worked at Chesapeake longer than I have worked anywhere else in my professional life and feel proud to be both part of the team and to have contributed to it’s growth and success.”

– Ben Kilburg


“Why I’m thankful to be part of the Chesapeake team:

-I am thankful for a competent and knowledgeable Chesapeake team that backs me up. They give me confidence in our ability to deliver to customers.

-I am thankful that Chesapeake took a chance on me and offered me a position that I was not entirely qualified for, experience-wise. I am thankful for the challenges availing me as I grow into this new role and autonomy as I figure it all out.

-I am thankful for the broad range of personalities, environments, and technology I’m exposed to working at Chesapeake. Our clientele engages in such disparate, yet ultimately similar, work.

-I’m thankful that my Chesapeake colleagues are willing to be my personal troubleshooting concierges to assist with any tech issue, from finding a good TV to rejiggering the calendar settings on my phone.

– Louise Gebel


“As Chesapeake Personal Services, I am thankful to be continuing a 15-year tradition of empowering our home and small office customers. Our commitment to this service yielded our Best of Baltimore honor this year. Makes me smile to know that our customers are likewise thankful.”

– Clark Riley


“In today’s society I can’t help but think first about our company’s diversity, both internally and that of our customers. Each employee’s own expertise, uniqueness, and approach, influenced by their own personal and professional backgrounds, leads us to great collaboration and a culture of respect for each other and our customers. After diversity comes that culture of collaboration, again both internally and with our customers. This culture welcomes a high level of learning that must always be at the forefront of a successful technology company, while also encouraging team and client collaboration that pushes people to perform at the highest level for their peers and our clients. This diversity and culture makes Chesapeake Systems a fun and fulfilling company for which I am thankful to be a part of.”

– Jason Paquin


“As a former Chesapeake customer I’m thankful that I now get to provide the same level of support to our current customers. The fact that I get to work with a multitude of new and exciting technologies is a plus, too!”

– Ethan Hansen


“I’m thankful to Chesapeake Systems for so many reasons. I’m glad that after over twelve years, every day I still wake up knowing that I work with my adoptive family (I’m originally from Massachusetts, so my actual family is a little ways away). My colleagues at Chesapeake are some of my closest pals, and so are many (most?) of the clientele I have the joy of working with. Every day brings something novel, with new technologies and media workflow challenges emerging constantly. We continue to redefine ourselves, and it is such a rare thing to work for a company that can continue to reinvent itself, and constantly be innovating.”

– Nick Gold


“I am thankful for the opportunity to work with some of the most interesting people on the planet. That includes the clients, vendors and my colleagues. I am thankful for the opportunities to grow and expand my skills. You never lose when you reach for knowledge.”

– Brian Summa


Ready to work with our team? Contact us at or call 410-752-7729.


An Imperfect Philosophy – Why You Can Do Better Than “One Throat to Choke”

Years ago, I was meeting with a longterm Chesapeake Systems client and a storage vendor we commonly resell, integrate and support. The vendor was appreciative of the client’s business so he asked, “Why have you guys stuck with us so long and been so loyal?” The immediate response, without hesitation, was “We like to have one throat to choke!”

A new angle to an old argument
In the technology industry, we hear the phrase, “one throat to choke” all too often. Clients want a turnkey solution – a prepackaged solution, typically from the same vendor. They want one person to call if things go awry. But there are fundamental flaws to this approach.

For one, instead of focusing on success, your company is operating from the get-go as if the system is going to fail. Second, a storage company that includes asset management software might offer a turnkey solution, but once you do anything with it other than exactly what they built it for, you lose support, and who wants that? Third, you’re assuming that a single-vendor solution actually exists.

We get that on the surface, you may see value in having one support number to call, one support center that understands every need and guarantees they are met. But as a company that spends the vast majority of our time spec’ing solutions that meet our clients’ needs, budgets and growth plans, we know the reality is that behind every solution are multiple vendors, manufacturers, development firms, etc. For example, a storage vendor selling a storage appliance is reliant on an operating system they didn’t write to run it on; a RAID manufacturer’s controller that they commonly don’t develop or maintain; a SuperMicro, Dell, HP, AIC, or other server chassis and mother board; and the list can go on and on. Commonly, entire product lines from one vendor are rebranded products from a third party manufacturer under partnerships and license agreements. Even Avid, often thought of as the example of the “single vendor vertical solution provider” relies on many third party components in their overall ecosystem (which may or may not be obvious when looking at their quotes).

So what does this mean for you?

Synergy between the client and vendors is still the ultimate goal. Accountability still matters. But rather than looking at your relationship with your vendor as “one throat to choke,” take a more positive perspective. Don’t assume failure. Instead focus on achieving meaningful business results and the successful outcomes that are possible. View your vendor as “one person to hug.”

Having someone who focuses on the entire puzzle is possible. But inviting tiers of support, where any single manufacturer or development firm focuses on and supports their piece of the puzzle, is a positive aspect of integration.

What makes Chesapeake Systems a good partner is that we bring the right manufacturers and vendors to the table and represent you to make sure you’re getting the best out of them. To us the very definition of a Systems Integrator is the party that can take true responsibility over multiple solutions and mixed environments. It is not our opinion that manufacturers are often the right party to be the one taking responsibility of the environment in the same way.

We look at:
How do they talk to each other?
How are they compatible with each other?
How do they meet your unique needs in the first place?
Does each piece of the puzzle represent the best balance of value and functionality for the customer?

How the collaborative approach works
An open collaboration means each party knows what piece of the puzzle they are responsible for and how they all come together. We call these partners on your behalf for any support, and they understand how they fit into your puzzle.

Benefits of a collaborative approach include:

A better review of ideas – it’s a melding of the minds.
More ideas, and vendors pushing one another to do better, leads to growth.
Bringing multiple pieces together can help you meet your business goals.
Every partner is focused on their piece and works to make that piece better, support that piece better or integrate that piece better.
Nobody is in it alone. Support tends to be quicker and more reliable when manufacturers are focusing on their piece and not the whole puzzle.

The reality is, Chesapeake Systems doesn’t know everything. But we do know the right people to call and we develop the partnerships to get it done right.

Ready to see how Chesapeake Systems can help you achieve your business goals? Contact us at or call 410-752-7729.


Why You Need a Solutions Architect – Ben Tells All

I remember seeing a T-shirt for Solutions Architects that read, “We do precision guess work based upon unreliable data provided by those with questionable knowledge.”

While that is a somewhat comical take on the role of a Solutions Architect (SA), I can tell you that the precision part is on point. Being an SA involves work of an extremely tedious, detail-oriented and time-consuming nature. At the end of the day, I’m the “behind the scenes guy who makes it all happen.”

How I got here
My path to the SA role is probably a bit unconventional. While attending college at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, I met a young student by the name of Jason Paquin who would go on to become my esteemed colleague here at Chesapeake Systems. We were both members of the Society of Recording Technology Students and even started a small record label, Stepping Stone Records.

In my previous house, where I constructed a decently isolated project recording studio, I would often socialize with another Chesapeake Systems colleague, Nick Gold, who attended college with my wife.

Through these contacts, and because of my technology skills and passion for media and entertainment, I found a home at Chesapeake Systems. I began work nine years ago as a systems engineer and eventually evolved into the role of SA.

What does an SA do?
The SA typically begins by gathering all the technical details from a client’s environment such as:
What tools do they use?
What cabling, servers and storage they are running?
What is their nonlinear editor of choice?
What version of software they are running on workstations?

Then we identify the problem
Do you need help with a storage system?
Do you need help with media asset management?
Do you need helping building out a new studio?

Finally, we architect a solution
Sometimes the “problem” may be as simple as a system refresh, or it may be as complex as “What do we do with these 1,000 tapes because we want to provide them to people as quickly as we can?”
Once this preliminary work is complete, we generate a concrete parts list, a statement of work and a Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) chart that helps us make accurate labor predictions. I think about everything that needs to happen to deploy the system correctly and how long it will take us to do that.

What does it take to be an SA?
1. Blend of business and technical skills. Designing and dreaming up a system that will work best for clients involves a lot of negotiating with the account executive, where you both advocate on behalf of the client, working to achieve a balance that both meets the client’s needs and fits within their budget.
2. Ability to analyze and assess. Utilizing PERT, I have to be able to advise clients on how long a project will take. We then generate a well-written statement of work that delves into the nitty gritty of prerequisites for the company, such as ensuring they have a floor in place that will support a 900-pound system.
3. Ability to flesh out solutions. One of the major aspects of an SA job is having a vision and creating the plan to execute it. You are charged with presenting a realistic path forward that will work best for your client.
4. A great team. As we mentioned above I work closely with our AEs, but I think it’s also important to call attention to all the folks who lend me their strengths and are a big part what makes Chesapeake special. Our Sales Manager, Project Coordinator, and Chief Technology officer are my trusted allies and advisors. Our Systems Engineers and workflow masterminds, and of course some fantastic vendor SEs, help me work out the complexities while we design and plan our projects. I couldn’t do my job effectively without them, and a big part of being an SA is bringing everyone together and distilling their contributions into the right solution.

Why I love it
The work I do requires a lot of attention to detail, but paying attention to the little things leads to big things happening. I also have the opportunity to work with the coolest technology around and the smartest guys in the room. You’re at your best when the people around you are better than you. Even though sometimes that’s daunting, you profit from it every minute and hour of the day and it hopefully makes you better, smarter and kinder.

Furthermore, at Chesapeake Systems, we have access to some of the smartest people in the world doing the coolest things in the world. Sometimes a client is working on a project that you get to see before anyone else ever does or perhaps you have the chance to watch some behind the scenes shenanigans nobody will ever see. We have longstanding relationships with many of our customers and have the opportunity to walk shoulder to shoulder with some of the biggest media creators in the world.

Interested in how Chesapeake Systems can help you with your projects? Email, visit or call 410-752-7729.


David Garland joins Chesapeake Systems as Director of Business Development

Software. Digital Media. IT Architecture. Digital Workflow. Project management.

These are just some of the areas of expertise David Garland brings to his new position as Director of Business Development for Chesapeake Systems.

A senior IT executive who has worked for organizations such as Bertelsmann, A&E Television Network and FTI Consulting, David brings a wealth of media and technology experience to his position, which became effective Sept. 19.

In this business development role, Chesapeake Systems was seeking someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, and David has a proven track record in this area. In addition to co-inventing patents for several multimedia and content distribution systems, David cofounded his own consulting business, Digital Dawn, LLC,  in 2009 focusing on media and entertainment clients.

David’s expertise and connections will be invaluable to Chesapeake Systems as we work to grow and strengthen our industry presence as experts in producing shared storage, media management and workflow automation systems for numerous industries.

David will be working primarily out of New York, one of the largest media production hubs in the U.S.

“I think Chesa has done an amazing job with growing slowly and carefully and putting together a culture that allows them to scale,” David said. “I’m excited to work for a company that gets the job done and does it well.”

He said he enjoys both the consulting aspect and the “people side” of the business.

“The Internet has disrupted the media enormously and it’s created all sorts of opportunities and also all sorts of pitfalls for companies, and helping to navigate them through that is really fun,” he said.

A husband and father, David enjoys a variety of interests such as jogging, bicycling, playing the guitar, making wine and brewing beer. He also enjoys cultivating his love of languages, trying his hand at Spanish, French and German in addition to English.

As we continue to grow our company, we are very much looking to David to leverage his networking skills and proficiency in media and technology to highlight the value of working with the experts at Chesapeake Systems.


E-Book: MAM to the Rescue

You came to the right place.

Media Asset Management is complex and the MAM vendor landscape is vast.

If anybody knows everything you need to know before making a MAM purchase, it’s the experts at Chesapeake Systems.

Our e-book will outline:

  • How a MAM frees you up to get more media to more distribution outlets
  • How a MAM can tie into your existing workflow
  • How to budget for a MAM
  • What you should know before choosing a vendor
  • How to gauge the right MAM for your organization
  • Simply fill in your email address below and our free e-book will be on its way!

Effectively Preserving Your Media Assets May Mean More Than You Think

Wil Smith was not a typical Bowdoin College student. He matriculated to the Maine school at the age of 28 after first enlisting in the U.S. Navy and serving in the first Gulf War.

That wasn’t the only thing that set him apart.

In an emotional audio interview recorded through an independently funded organization known as StoryCorps, Smith recounted how he secretly came to the school as a single parent and told nobody of his infant daughter, Olivia. He spoke of how he would take his daughter with him to his night job at Staples as he tried to provide for them both. Eventually, the school community did find out about his secret, and formed a support group for Smith and Olivia.

As he spoke with his now adult daughter in the interview, Smith became noticeably emotional as he recounted his graduation in 2000.

“My graduation day from Bowdoin is a day I’ll never forget,” said Smith, who walked across stage with his diploma in one hand and Olivia in the other. “All of my classmates, they stood up and gave me the only standing ovation.”

Smith, who graduated from law school and went on to serve as associate dean of multicultural student programs at Bowdoin, told his daughter, “I draw my strength from you. I always have.”

Smith died in 2015 at the age of 46 after battling colon cancer.

While nobody knew at the time of the StoryCorps recording what Smith’s future would hold, because this interview between father and daughter was recorded and preserved, it will be a special piece of history that both she and anyone who hears it will be able to treasure.

Since its inception more than a dozen years ago, StoryCorps has captured more than 100,000 such conversations from Americans of all walks of life. Like StoryCorps, many of our clients at Chesapeake Systems also capture and store important content every day, whether it be powerful news stories, video interviews, performances, speeches, game day highlights, etc.

In 2015, StoryCorps’ founder and executive director Dave Isay, a former radio journalist, won the TED prize and used the million-dollar prize to create a StoryCorps mobile application. Users of the free app record 11-12 minute interviews and then upload them to the Library of Congress.

Over Thanksgiving of 2015, StoryCorps invited students across the country to record an interview with an elder through the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” project. You can read (or listen) to more about the project in this NPR interview with Diane Rehm.

At Chesapeake Systems, my colleagues and I are very connected to this notion of preservation. We work with organizations all over the commercial spectrum, in non-commercial areas and with various types of interest groups representing a broad extreme of perspectives, attitudes, opinions and agendas. In the same way that StoryCorps captures everyday experiences and shines a very brilliant light on the humanity behind them, we at Chesapeake Systems want to help our clients with the tools that will enable them to record their own slices of reality from various perspectives.

We’re still very much at the beginning of the Internet era, and things are not only going to change in the 21st Century, they are going to change drastically. As quickly as technology changes, we have to pay close attention to not only saving our content, but how we preserve it. The file formats we use today can easily become obsolete in a decade, putting them into what’s known as the digital dark age.

We want to help our clients understand the historical significance of the content they create every day and its potential educational impact down the line. Whether they are conducting a humanitarian interview such as StoryCorps, writing an online article about law enforcement and the black community, or recording an amazing sports feat, all of it will help to give people 100 years from now a glimpse into our early 21st Century lives. Even our most banal videos may prove to be of value beyond what we’re capable of understanding today.

To learn more about how Chesapeake Systems can help your organization with preservation, call 410-752-7729.


Chesapeake Systems’ Client Steps Up to Help in Flood-Damaged Louisiana

If there’s any place that’s all about community, it’s Chesapeake Systems’ customer Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA. For more than 20 years, Healing Place Church has strived to fulfill its mission to be “a healing place for a hurting world.”

That mission was tested this summer when south Louisiana saw an unprecedented amount of rainfall Aug. 8-14 that dumped an estimated 6.9 trillion gallons of water on the community. Homes and businesses were flooded and more than 20,000 people had to be rescued. According to USA Today, 13 lives were lost, the area endured an estimated $110 million in agricultural losses and 40,000 homes were damaged.

Even though the church’s “Dream Center” in the heart of Baton Rouge sustained flooding damage, volunteers came together to transform the site into a distribution center filled with clothing and supplies. Overall, Healing Placed Church served 28,000 meals to displaced families as well as staffing distribution centers to help people meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

To see videos of how Healing Place Church has helped make a difference, click here.

Chesapeake System stands in solidarity with our client during this particularly challenging time.

I have visited a Healing Place Church and have seen firsthand the dedication they have to serving not only their own community, but the community at large. The level of enthusiasm and energy they put forth is just inspiring, and something I know south Louisiana can really benefit from during the rebuilding process. Though the flood waters have subsided, great challenges and work remain for this community, and much support is needed. To consider donating to assist with disaster relief, please visit Healing Place Church’s website.


Is Your Company on Board with the Media Service Bus?

Have you ever found yourself with what seems like 50 million things on your plate? Perhaps you wonder what you’ll do first, if you can get it all done and how all the pieces will come together.

Those in the media world involved in production, post production and distribution of video probably often feel the same way. Video editors are seeing more file formats than ever before, with no sign of that slowing down. There is more and more software available to manipulate and craft media. There are more and more systems available to collaborate around media in the creative process. There is an explosion of outlets on which to distribute media.

With so many pieces that need to come together, the question becomes how do you properly architect file-based workflows that take full advantage of IT systems? To help answer that, let’s take a look at an industry that’s doing it well.

The package shipping industry seems to have their system down pat. From the moment you go through your computer to create and print a mailing label for your USPS or FedEx package, the shipping company is made aware of that physical asset and proceeds to track it through an elaborate system. As the package travels across state lines to different distribution centers, every single step of its journey is tracked, right down to you signing for it with that electronic pen. This intricate shipping workflow happens millions of times every day as the software and IT platforms connect every little facet.

I always tell people in the media industry, “Imagine if someone had to complete every step of that workflow by manually moving files between folders on a hard drive.” In a word, that would be ludicrous. In two words, it would be what we at Chesapeake Systems would describe as, “banana pants.” Just the idea that you could have humans moving little data files around for this complex workflow is unimaginable. It would require way too much manual labor and leave the system susceptible to human error.

Yet ask any video editor or media manager how aware they are of every last little move a file goes through as it moves through their system, and chances are they are very aware. The reason for this is because they are likely the ones who moved it. Something does exist, though, that can help with automation, integration and organization.

In the world of enterprise software technology, there is an architecture pattern known as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) that is capable of integrating heterogenous applications. A computer bus is a communication system that transfers data between components inside a computer or between computers.* It acts as a communication hub that various sorts of subsystem communications flow in and out of.

The ESB is “a software architecture model used for designing and implementing communication between mutually interacting software applications in what’s called a service-oriented architecture (SOA).”** It is not one piece of software, but rather software technology that ties all the other software subsystems together – improving efficiency and allowing you to scale.

If the shipping industry can successfully incorporate an ESB, then the question becomes, “Is there a Media Service Bus (MSB) for the media industry?” Before answering that, I should clarify that a MSB should not be confused with scripts, which can be quite sophisticated and assist with automation, organization and ingesting. While scripts are helpful, in the end, you end up with a bunch of scripts each responsible for their own thing, with no central authority or cohesion.

The whole point of the MSB is to look at workflows associated with creating content, manipulating content, reviewing content, archiving content or distributing content and think of them as a set of interconnected and actually integrated services. A MSB would be a truly orchestrated architecture that sits in the middle of your platforms and enables them to communicate directly to each other through it and to see each other as services that can be automated.

This level of automation is possible. Chesapeake Systems works with Enterprise Service Bus platforms that are specifically tailored to the media industry, and we have experience rolling them out.

Want to talk about how implementing an MSB can help you? Give us a call at 410-752-7729 and we’d be happy to chat.

* Wikipedia, “Bus (computing)”,
** Wikipedia, “Enterprise service bus,”


If You Don’t Know … Now You Know

Have you ever walked into a grocery store to pick up something to make for dinner and realized once you’re in there, “I don’t even know what I need to get?”

Clients in the market for asset management and production storage technology often feel the same way. They know they need something to solve their pain points and challenges, but as they see all the offerings before them, they don’t know exactly what they should get.

That’s why consultation is such a critical piece of the service Chesapeake Systems provides.

Our Chesapeake Systems’ experts can fully inform clients about product offerings (and the difference between MAM, PAM and DAM) and make recommendations on how to move forward. We also learn a lot from the process. We may be the expert in the room, but each client’s needs and environments are different. Keeping current and challenged is fun for us and it makes us more relevant for the next client.

Why You May Need a Deeper Engagement
Our first step is consulting with a potential client is typically to ask for more detail on their environment and how it relates to the needs they believe they have.

Some general questions we ask them are:
What are the formats you’re working in today?
What are the camera formats you shoot in and the edit formats you edit in?
What are the deliverable formats?
Where do you deliver?

In scenarios where we don’t get clear answers or we ask different individuals within the same organization and get differing answers, it will come to light that a deeper engagement will be helpful.

We form a partnership with the client where we say let’s sit down and go over your entire infrastructure and your workflow and figure out what you need today and what fits in your budget. Then we’ll make a plan to phase in other items.

Sometimes an existing client is ready to take things to the next level. They’ve invested in storage and archives and now they’re ready to move forward and become more organized within that environment.

In either scenario, we’ll create a deliverable that walks the client through every step of their environment as well as provides our recommendations.

How It Works
The best way for us to truly help our customers is to understand how they work. And the best way to do that is to immerse ourselves in their environment.
We meet with stakeholders to determine their goals, their ROI and what their definition of success is.
We’ll talk to everyone from department heads to administrators to identify challenges and goals and what it is they do day-to-day.
Then we’ll join our client’s team for a few days. We’ll watch them plan their next shoot, we’ll study their workflow, we’ll actively assist in tasks to help us really learn their business, etc.

Why It’s Worth It
Our consultation process helps us judge for ourselves what level of asset management clients need. In turn, the client walks away with the information they need to justify a purchase to stakeholders.

A paid consultation will result in a detailed document that explains the various offerings and carefully defines each option. There will be a review of every step of the client’s environment, from workflows to formats, and, finally, our recommendations for moving forward. Clients will have a better understanding of the offerings, they will have their questions answered and they’ll have a document in hand that outlines the next clear step forward.

Interested in meeting with us? Reach out at or call 410-752-7729.


Q&A: ScreenMux Creator Shares the Scoop on New Recording Tool

I had a chance recently to chat with Björn Adamski, the creator and originator of ScreenMux, to find out the scoop on the time-saving, user-friendly, standards-compliant screen recording software.

Q. Björn, I’ve known you for a good number of years now. First at Hamburg Pro Media, makers of the MXF4mac plugin set, and then at Telestream, one of the leading encoding system manufacturers. You’ve been immersed in file-based workflow for ages, and now you have started something new, and you are offering a tool called ScreenMux. Tell me about it.

A: ScreenMux is the first desktop recording software that captures any screen content straight to MXF and therefore is specifically designed for fast and efficient Broadcast and News operations. MXF files created by ScreenMux play everywhere and with everything: NLEs, playout servers, transcoders, archives. ScreenMux is also very easy to use. Operators, editors and journalists don’t need to worry about technical details. ScreenMux handles everything to create the best possible output with a few mouse clicks.

Q. That sounds … Exceptionally useful! Were you surprised to find that such a utilitarian tool didn’t already exist in the marketplace, in terms of meeting your vision of simplicity of use, and workflow, that such an application should offer?

A: Well, there are quite many solutions available. However, who does not complain about the vast amount of different digital formats, codecs, containers, and such? With the increase of formats also complexity of available solutions increased. Transcoding solutions are among the most complex video products out there and it can be a frustrating experience for both the customer and the developer to support the endless possibilities of format combinations.

And then you go to a webpage or social media site and you ask yourself how to get this selection of rich media content into a video transcoder the way you exactly need it.

Professional video conversion tools out there are made by engineers for engineers and available screen casting tools are made for prosumers and creatives. It’s like two different market segments that don’t have anything in common. Therefore my vision for ScreenMux is to provide a recording tool for Broadcast needs and at the same time I wanted to simplify the user experience drastically. A journalist without any technical knowledge understands the ScreenMux user interface straight away. Pro users and engineers will enjoy the freedom to just convert everything that plays on the computer screen straight to a world-standard MXF file.

Q. Would you please take a moment, and walk me through a few typical environments and workflows that you feel could really make use of ScreenMux? How does ScreenMux improve efficiency for these types of operations, that don’t use this type of an approach to screen capture today?

All forms of content have one thing in common: It just plays on our screens, in Web browsers, in apps. It plays fine and now the question is how to get the content back into the production cycle, how to reuse it, how to archive it? All this in a standardized form as MXF without any extra steps.

First of all, ScreenMux is not an editor. It’s purely and solely a recorder for Broadcast operations. We focus on this one thing and this thing we do best. We don’t want to increase complexity by adding editing capabilities to ScreenMux if the standard MXF it creates can be processed by every NLE out there such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro or Media Composer. It’s even better to use an external NLE because only external editors can take advantage of the coolest feature: Edit-while-Ingest. ScreenMux creates standard Sony XDCAM HD422 compliant MXF OP1a files. This file type is ready for Growing File Import, means it can be processed externally while the recording is till ongoing. In bigger broadcast environments you may have quite a few journalists and operators who would use ScreenMux to capture all sorts of online content. The MXFs are written to a central storage and can be imported from there directly into NLEs or into a central MAM. Editors can start editing the growing MXF files just seconds after the recording started. The MAM can create proxy files and load the assets into the database the same way. File workflows aren’t faster than SDI? This one is.

Then we all know too well these situations where all file importers fail, but, VLC as a last resort at least plays the buggy file. So, in such situations do we really want to try reaching out to whoever created the file and ask for another proper file delivery? This is the one file with one minute duration that needs to go live in 5 minutes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just click one button and the content that plays in VLC just turns into a standard error-free MXF file, just like that? With ScreenMux you can, and you can record straight to the playout server and even play the MXF to air while you’re still recording with ScreenMux.

Or, imagine even simpler tasks. The latest Star Wars movie trailer is available on YouTube in 2K. Why download it from another portal where you need to register, login, search, then select and download the most appropriate of the provided versions? You pick the ProRes movie, then wait for the download, convert into MXF, recognize that the source wasn’t 16:9 so you have to alter the crop and scale settings and convert again. Don’t you just want to make the 16:9 selection with ScreenMux and hit record on top of the 2K YouTube movie knowing the built-in scaler, MPEG-2 encoder and MXF muxer handle everything perfectly fine while also making the content available during the ongoing recording session?

There are dozens of examples. Even the Panama Papers PDF can be recorded from screen to MXF. My vision is to provide ScreenMux to journalists, editors, operators and engineers. It’s a great solution for daily News workflows as well as just a simple fallback tool.

Q. I can think of many different environments we work in at Chesapeake Systems where this could be a very useful tool to have on the belt, so-to-speak. News operations as you said, promotions departments, you name it. Can you describe how licensing works, for a department of 5, a smaller business operation of 50, or even a large enterprise environment of 1,000+ users?

A. Typical inquiries are around 20 seats but customers tend to scale the install base after they gain some experience. We have quite a few Site License requests and we are happy to provide those together with some volume discount. We want to keep the administrative part as low as possible for both sides so testing, deployment and licensing are part of the philosophy to provide an easy-to-use solution. An activation process is not required and deploying ScreenMux for 1,000+ users is as easy as for 10. We are discussing feature requests and roadmaps closely with customers, as a close and trustful relationship is very important for us.

Q. How does the licensing cost structure work, from a pricing perspective?

A. The price is $299 per seat. It’s traditional per-seat licensing including Support. There is no subscription and no separate SLA charge. That isn’t really much for a Broadcast focused solution. We can offer this price because there are no 3rd party suppliers involved. All components and the application development itself are provided by nablet. We own all video processing technology we use for ScreenMux such as our own MPEG-2 Encoder, our own Image Scaler and our own MXF Muxer. This gives us the best possible control over quality, performance and stability and we can also work very efficiently using solely our own stuff. We pass this cost advantage over to customers. In addition there can be some volume discounting for installations with 20+ seats.

Q. Is there any way a prospective user can try the software out to make sure it works well for their purposes? Are there limits to the trial version?

A. The only limitation of the demo version is that it embeds a permanent watermark without impacting performance. There is no expiration, no demo serial number, no limited feature set. Just a permanent watermark, that’s it. This allows long and unlimited testing without time pressure. The customer decides.

Q. Do you see this project as the start of something new for you, and do you have plans for other broadcast-oriented software applications focusing on utility and simplicity? Is there anything you can share about what’s next, beyond ScreenMux?

A. ScreenMux is the first solution created together with nablet, and the experience is awesome and very promising. nablet is a spin-off from MainConcept and I have been working with them for a few years. We are a great team and it’s lots of fun working together. nablet owns an incredible broad set of advanced video technologies for Codecs, File and Streaming Formats, Fingerprinting, Scaling, Denoising, Color Conversion, Framerate Conversion, Telecine Operations, Image Stabilization, Analyzing, and more. So, there is lots we can do and I have quite a few ideas and concepts how to improve and streamline workflows.

First we want to further extend the feature set of ScreenMux. For example it’s quite a heavy task to perform screen capturing of HD or 2K online videos and encode straight to XDCAM HD422 in realtime on a laptop or low-performance computer. We already own the technology to load online streams into our own video player. Having the stream in our own player allows us to buffer the frames to disk and to convert the native stream data (instead of the screen pixels) to XDCAM HD422. This adds three benefits: First, it even works on slower computers as we can process slower than realtime (still with the benefit of Edit-while-Ingest with a growing MXF file). Secondly, on fast hardware and with fast download speed we can process faster than realtime. Thirdly, screen capturing records everything on the screen and blocks the computer for other tasks, while stream capturing only records the video stream and can run in the background.

We also have customers who want to record hours of incoming online video. We performed successful stress tests of one hour of screen capturing on stronger hardware and it does the trick but a few hours is a really heavy load. So if you want to only capture an online video then a stream capture option might be better. I really want to add this feature in ScreenMux to allow customers to switch between Screen and Stream Capture mode whatever works best in each situation. The mockup is done and I think this will be super hot. It’s quite some effort and requires lots of testing with different streaming formats and URLs. Therefore we are looking for customers who want to support this feature by committing to a discounted order and helping to test it. We’re already talking to some customers in the US, so maybe CHESA can bring some more to the table ;-). Another request that is in the pipe is to output the screen selection to an external video device. The good thing about this feature is that it also supports older and less powerful computer hardware. To summarize, I think we have much on the plate for ScreenMux. For other new things, just wait and see! I promise you will know first.

Well Björn, this has been fantastic — thanks so much for spending some time to talk with me and fill us all in on your new endeavor! ScreenMux is definitely something I can imagine many of Chesapeake Systems’ clients having a use for. We are a reseller of this application, so I encourage anybody reading this who has interest to reach out to us for more information or a quote. As Björn said, if you have a high number of users who might have a need for this, we can discuss volume pricing. Finally, to download the trial version, just go to and hit the “request trial” button (which will spawn an email to Björn and his team). Björn and myself are interested to hear feedback from people who give the software a spin in their environment.