***Update 4/13/10***
A follow-up to this blog post expanding on the relationship between COVE and Merlin can be found here.

In an effort to better promote and distribute COVE content a hi-resolution image will soon be added as a requirement for the Core Content Package of COVE.  This means you will be required to provide a hi-resolution image when you are ingesting your content into COVE. We estimate that this requirement will go into effect some time in the next 8 to 12 weeks.

To ensure that this new requirement does not unfairly increase producer workload a new feature was recently added to the COVE Admin Tool that looks like this:
This new feature is an image transcoder. It allows you to ingest one hi-resolution image and, with the press of a button, generate the images required for other COVE-powered products.

With this powerful new tool you can currently generate the following images:

  • Standard 16x9, Standard 4x3: These are the images for the COVE-Merlin feed. This feed will pipe metadata about COVE content into the Merlin database. Merlin will then use that metadata to promote COVE content throughout its system. Click here to learn more about Merlin.
  • Partner Player: This is the poster image that appears in the window of the COVE Partner Player, before the user clicks the play button.
  • Stackcard: This is the COVE Stackcard


In this first version of the tool you are only be able to generate these images. They will not be linked to their respective COVE-powered products. For this reason, you will still need to ingest a separate COVE stackcard image into the system.  You will also need to continue to ingest an episode thumbnail for each piece of content.


It is a good idea however to begin ingesting your hi-resolution images for new and archival content now because:

  • In upcoming releases of COVE these images will be automatically linked to their respective COVE-powered products. Any images you’ve already generated will also be linked so you’ll save yourself from having to go back through your archive.
  • The Merlin image (Standard 16x9 or Standard 4x3) will be required for your COVE content to be promoted through the Merlin platform.

Because this image transcoder will be generating images for many different platforms the required image size is 1920x1080 pixels. This multi-platform size will ensure that the image transcoder can generate a quality image for all of the various platforms your COVE content will be distributed and promoted on; both now and in the future.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, the hi-resolution image will soon be the only required image for COVE.  At that time the transcoder will generate all of the required images, including the COVE Episode Thumbnail. So in exchange for your work to provide a larger image you will no longer have to create multiple sizes.

Here is how you use this new feature:

When you are ingesting a new piece of content

  1. Have your hi-resolution image in the same publicly accessible folder as your other video and image files.
  2. Create a new episode in the COVE Admin Tool as you normally would.
  3. Enter the URL for your hi-resolution image into the “Additional Images” field. (located in Step 1: Required Episode Information)
  4. Fill out the rest of the metadata form as you normally would. (Step 1, Step 2, Step 3)
  5. Submit your new content by clicking the “Submit” button
  6. Your new images will be generated.

If you wish to generate images for a piece of archival content:

  1. Click the “Edit/Manage Episodes” button in the COVE Admin Tool
  2. Find the episode you would like to generate images for on the “Browse Programs” page and click that episode title.
  3. This will take you to the “Episode Details” page.
  4. Click the button that says “Create New Image Assets”
  5. This will take you directly to the “Additional Images” field in Step 1 of the metadata form for that episode.
  6. Enter the URL for your hi-resolution image
  7. Click the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page
  8. Your new images will be generated

PBS is currently working on some changes to the interface of this new feature. We will be updating the text around this field and will be sure to let you know when those changes go live.

We hope this new tool helps to reduce your workload as we continue to build new COVE-powered products to distribute your content. As always, please let your program manager know if you have any questions or feedback.

-Dan Haggerty

Below is a diagram of how this transcoder works


  1. Hi Dan,

    Can you please give us ample warning as soon as you know the date this will be 'required'? I did not know the images were supposed to be 1920x1080 so I will have to redo the ones I have put in so far.


    1. Dan Haggerty AUTHOR

      Hi Molly,

      My apologies for the confusing wording around that field in the COVE Admin Tool. We are fixing it so the 1920x1080 requirement is included in the explainer text.

      We are honing in on a specific date for when this will be a hard requirement and once we've settled on one I will be sure to let everybody know via the Producer Exchange blog.

      In the mean time though it is a good idea to begin working on ingesting these images now. The images you generate now will eventually be linked up automatically so you will be ahead of the ballgame.

      Thanks for working through this new requirement with us.



  2. I'm concerned about the size of the required image and how that is going to affect our workflow.

    We generally use screen grabs from the video for our Cove assets since it is usually the most reliable source of quality images related to the clip. High res promo photos are sometimes an option but not always, especially on our local programs. Screen grabs of that size would only be available on HD programs and I'm not sure yet how I'm going to work that into my production process (we don't digitize our programs for the web in HD)

    Will the system accept 640 size images as an alternate if the ideal is not available?

    Does the high res requirement also apply to chapter thumbnails or do we still create those at the thumbnail size ourselves?

    1. Dan Haggerty AUTHOR

      Hi Jon,
      Hopefully the 8-12 weeks will give you some time to examine your workflow and see what is possible. If you're running into any major problems let your program manager know and we can look at possible options.

      Any work you can do to begin generating these hi-res images now will help you in the future though because they are going to be needed more and more as PBS builds new platforms and distribution methods.

      The hi-res promo photos I think are going to be a good source for many producers and many situations.

      Another option is to export individual HD screengrabs from the edit suite you edit the broadcast version in.

      Finally, yes, the hi-res requirement will eventually apply for chapter thumbnails as well. This feature has not been added to any of the upcoming iterations of COVE yet though so I think it will be a little farther out.



  3. Dan,

    To clarify - does this apply only when we are ingesting a new piece of content into COVE? Or do we have to go back and supply high res images for all the content already existing in COVE?

    1. Dan Haggerty AUTHOR

      Hi Molly,

      The hi-res image will be a requirement for both new and archival content in COVE.

      Here is how you can prioritize that work though:

      • First priority: New COVE content. The sooner you can begin to ingest hi-res images with your new content the better.
      • Second priority: Any archive video you are using the COVE partner player for. This will get that nicer poster image into all of your Partner Player implementations.
      • Third priority: Archive content that receives a lot of consistent traffic. This is because that 640x360 Merlin image will be required for your content to be promotable through the Merlin system. So you want to be sure to have a hi-res image ingested for the archival  content your users are most interested in.
      • Fourth priority: Archive content that has a long shelf-life. This is for the same reason as the previous priority.

      Archival content that does not have a partner player implementation, doesn't have much of a shelf-life and doesn't see very much repeat traffic should be your last priority.

      If you prioritize your work in this manner I feel confident you will be getting the most bang for your buck.

      Thanks so much for all the great questions.



  4. I think there are going to be situations where a high-res image just isn't available. In particular, I'm thinking of web exclusive clips that aren't necessarily shot or edited in HD or archived programs in SD (most local stuff is in SD as well).

    Will the system accept 640x360 images if that's all that's available?

    1. Dan Haggerty AUTHOR

      Hi Jon,
      Is is possible to generate a 1280x720 image from those web exclusives and SD archive programs? That is the next size down that the system is also capable of accepting.

      The 1920x1080 size is a policy requirement rather than a specific technical requirement.

      The system will accept smaller sizes. The 640x360 image is the smallest it will technically accept but should only be considered as a last resort. It is a less than ideal solution with some serious implications.

      It is imperative that every effort is made to get the 1920x1080 size into the system to future-proof your content.

      As PBS continues to build new products powered by the COVE and Merlin platforms images this size are going to be more and more necessary. Any piece of content that does not have images this large is going to require extra effort to promote and runs the chance of having a reduced presence.

      As I mentioned above though, the first priority moving forward is for new content. I think once we get that nailed down and take a closer look at what is possible with the archive content we may be more flexible.

      The 1920x1080 requirement is a very rigid for current and new content though.

      We are working on a follow up to this blog post that explains these issues further as they relate to Merlin so please keep an eye out for that.