Aspera, NexGuard: Watermarking’s Increasingly Important, But Not All Solutions are Created Equal

A growing number of media and entertainment companies are using watermarking as part of their security initiatives to combat piracy, but not all watermarking solutions are able to meet their needs, according to Aspera and NexGuard.

NexGuard’s customers had faced a few challenges when it came to the application of watermarks, Gabriel Cantin, product manager at NexGuard, said Nov. 8 during the webinar “On-the-Fly Watermarking with NexGuard and Aspera.”

NexGuard’s customers said they were looking for a “server-side” watermarking solution for when they needed to distribute a file to “many recipients,” he noted. Those clients wanted to “apply a unique watermark” and they needed to have a “secure and reliable high-speed file transfer” over any distance required, “so that’s why we partnered with Aspera,” he explained.
A “seamless integration is very important for our customer” also, “so that’s why it’s key to have an out-of-the-box solution with an intuitive user experience,” he said. In addition, clients wanted to have the watermarking applied at the time of the file transfer, “with no delay,” he said.

NexGuard and Aspera developed a two-step solution in which they integrated NexGuard File Delivery with Aspera high-speed file transfer. NexGuard File Delivery with Aspera Faspex enables on-the-fly watermarking as part of the delivery process, according to the companies. The solution applies a watermark to a company’s assets as soon as recipients start downloading, they said.
Aspera Faspex is the IBM division’s server application that it said provides an intuitive, efficient way for individuals and groups to collaborate and easily exchange files and directories of any size over any distance, from anywhere in the world.

Formats supported by the NexGuard/Aspera solution are ProRes HD 422 (all profiles) in MOV, XDCAM HD 422 in MXF, H264/MPEG4 AVC in MP4 and other formats on request, according to Cantin. The detection time is “between three to five minutes of content and it depends, of course, on the quality” of the video content, he said.

NexGuard, which was bought by the Kudelski Group in 2016, has “strong roots” in the watermarking sector and has been conducting research and development for more than 20 years, Cantin noted at the start of the webinar. Its focus is on anti-piracy solutions including forensic watermarking and fingerprinting, he said, adding it’s been working with studios, content owners and post-production houses for the past 10 years. Those clients have been using watermarking in their workflows for production, post-production and distribution, he said, adding NexGuard has also deployed watermarking for business-to-consumer applications on pay-TV and over-the-top services.

Aspera’s “DNA is innovating” on transfer technologies, Tobo Atchou, senior customer solutions engineer at Aspera, said, pointing to its patented FASP protocol technology offering highly efficient bulk data transport. FASP is the “core to all Aspera’s high-performance data transfer software,” according to the company.