More facilities are looking beyond just the traditional needs of shared storage and collaborative workflows, as the amount of data they have to manage increases and workflows become more demanding.
As the EditShare reseller for Singapore and the Philippines, our recent installations certainly reflect this trend. Here are some examples of the challenges that our customers face and how integrating EditShare’s solutions helped overcome them.
Managing Production Assets
Shoot ratios have increased. According to some of our clients, a 10 minute final delivery could generate 2 to 4 hours of rushes. The discipline associated with shooting on film or tape seems a thing of the past, as file-based acquisition liberates the shooter from any physical limitations that film or tape might offer.
With a host of affordable 4K cameras now available on the market, high-resolution acquisition is on the rise. This is leading to a marked increase in storage requirements and an increased demand on CPU and GPU performance on the editing workstation. Some facilities choose to transcode to a mezzanine format, in order to lessen the strain on the editing workstation, generating more media and introducing more versions in which to manage.
These then brings about the need to better manage the volume and the various versions of production assets.
EditShare storage users are taking advantage of Flow, the production asset management software service that comes with every EditShare storage server. This allows them to search, browse, view metadata, log, create sub-clips and add markers. These additional tools allow for better organization of their media assets and for a truly collaborative workflow.
Beach House Pictures, for example, who own a 3-node XStream EFS 450 384TB system (above), use Flow extensively in their production workflow. The tools in Flow are particularly useful in the documentary and tv series work, from the ingest phase through organising the media for the various post production process to the generating the final masters.
Singapore Press Holdings (Wanbao) also use Flow as a means for writers and editors to quickly locate the media that they need. They also have a long term objective in mind, which is to catalog their content for quick and easy retrieval in the future.
Moving Bits, based in Singapore are one of the early adopters of Editshare here, recently upgraded to the XStream EFS200 model. They were using their system without the Flow management tools for several years. Given the nature of the work that they did, they did not feel that production asset management tools would significantly increase their efficiency.
They then came along a project last year where the customer, located outside of Singapore, wanted the ability to review rushes as the project was being shot. Shoots were happening in various locations around in the Southeast Asian region, with the rushes being sent back to Singapore for editing.
They decided that the easiest way to accommodate the clients request was to use Airflow, a browser-based client. Turning on proxy-creation for this project in Flow ensured that any ingested media had a low-res and streamable mp4 version automatically generated.
These proxy files were made assessable to the overseas client, so that they were able to review clips moments after they were introduced to the Editshare storage. Essentially, Moving Bits created their own private cloud. And all this process was done without the need of any additional work on the part of the Moving Bits staff.
Archiving projects and media
When we visit facilities that have been in business for more than 5 years or so, we often see data ‘archives’ in the form of spinning hard drives. In some facilities, we see more than 200 hard drives dedicated to archiving projects and their associated media. An Excel or Google sheet usually accompanies this library of hard drives, acting as a means to link media to drive.
Many of these archives grow organically. As the production company grows and takes on more and more projects, the natural tendency is to use the same hard drives that were used to store the rushes as a means to archive the project and media, with a little house-keeping and organisation before tucking it away on a shelf.
Over time, shelves full of hard drives emerge and several challenges begin to surface. One of the common and often frustrating challenge that facilities face happens when you try to find something. An excel or google sheet only helps to some degree and is reliant on the accuracy of the data that is input. Surprisingly, many facilities rely on memory when it comes to the details contained in their archive, which is a problem when a key member of the staff or management leaves.
We hear stories of editors spending hours, sometimes days, plugging hard drives in and out of his workstation, one after another, browsing through folder after folder, looking for the clips that are needed.
And that is if the hard disk works at all. The moving parts of a hard drive don’t like to stay immobile on a shelf and we often hear of drives that fail to work when needed. An expensive trip to a data recovery centre often follows if the content is deemed to be of value.
The facility owner begins to ask himself if there’s a better and more cost effective way to this. What seemed to be a simple and cost effective way to store away projects and rushes often turns out being unreliable, with costs that keep growing.
How does EditShare help solve this? By offering Ark Tape, a 24-slot or 48-slot, LTO 7 tape library solution. LTO technology have long been used in banks, data centres etc. and is a proven technology for long-term, safe and reliable archive of data. Each LTO 7 tape holds 6TB of data and costs in the region of US$100, making it the ideal archive medium for the media and entertainment industry, which consumes large amounts of data.
What really sweetens the deal is the combination of Flow and Ark within the Editshare eco-system. When used together, it creates an environment where content is managed from the time it is ingested, through the post production process and onto the archive phase. All throughout, users can browse proxies of the content, whether the original high-res media resides on the Editshare server, in the tape library or is off the tape library and tucked away on a shelf. Flow always know where the content is.
2 recent clients chose Flow and Ark, for slightly different reasons:
Hoods Inc., who have been in the TV content creation business for more than 10 years, found that it was just taking too much time and resources to retrieve archived content, without putting a proper media asset management in place.
August Pictures is another company that’s been in business for more than 10 years and have amassed a huge library of content during this time. It aims to properly catalog their large library of projects and media.
Facilities are always looking for ways to increase the productivity and reliability of their production and post production processes and workflow. Editshare offers a number of products and features to help achieve this.
There are some processes in a typical production or post production workflow that are tedious, repetitive or prone to errors. Editshare offers Flow Automation, an additional layer of intelligence to Flow . Repetitive tasks like copying, moving, deleting, transcoding and organizing projects or media spaces can be triggered at regular times of day or week or based on user actions.
It’s easy for the average user to design workflows as well, through an easy-to-use node-based interface.
Automated Quality Control
In modern media workflows, the earlier any issues are found, the easier and faster it is to rectify them. To achieve this, Editshare also offers QScan, a family of fully-featured Automatic Quality Control (AQC) systems, engineered to check the integrity of media files at user-definable points in a production workflow. Failure to check could result in major headaches further down the line. For this reason, Quality Control is often carried out at the start and then at the end of a workflow, either as a manual or an automatically scheduled operation.
Qscan is also available as a stand-alone product and not restricted to the Editshare server environment.
Editshare’s File Auditing feature essentially tracks every operation made on any piece of content that resides on the Editshare eco-system, by any user on the network, over time. So if someone moves or deletes the file, whether it’s done accidentally or maliciously, the system tracks it and is able to tell who moved it and when. Enforcing this level of accountability makes for a more secure environment.
Editshare is a great partner for any facility to have, with their software tools and features that go way beyond just shared storage, helping a facility to better manage the ever increasing amount of content that it handles.
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