Post houses are increasingly viewing cloud-enabled asset storage and content management as a must-have toolset. Editors and production teams need quick access to content wherever they are, and the cloud can offer benefits such as wider content availability, flexibility of scale-up/down and cost benefits. The reality is, implementing full cloud-based workflows is not easy or cost-effective or fully secure. The adoption of a hybrid workflow that combines current in-house storage with web-based tools offers a safe, convenient and cost-efficient way to leverage the benefits of the cloud while minimizing the risks. Read More
Synonymous with reality TV, Endemol’s 2015 production of Wild Island was set in a remote location off the coast of Central America. The German-produced series, supported by MoovIT production services, featured 14 ordinary citizens left to their own devices to survive on an uninhabited tropical island with no food or water for 28 days. With six cameras covering the action and antics, the production team, who were located on a neighboring island fours hours away by boat, brought an EditShare XStream EFS with integrated Flow to wrangle the 20 to 30 hours of footage they received per day.
No Downtime Mandate Met
On-location team member David Merzenich, manager at MoovIT, cites XStream EFS’ high availability and no single point of failure architecture as key to keeping pace with the production’s 24-hour turn on dailies and zero downtime goals. “I was already very familiar with EditShare storage technology and put their new XStream EFS model through a test run for this particular project,” he says. “The high availability configuration was really ideal given the unpredictable conditions of the on-location post setup.”
David explains the challenges they faced on location: “Utilities such as electricity were prone to frequent outages, especially when it was high tide. The electrical grid was located at the beach’s edge, and the power would come and go with the tide. Adding to the environmental stress we lived with day-to-day was knowing that replacement parts, should we need something we didn’t plan for, were at least a four-day wait due to the remote location. Our production afforded no downtime, and having equipment that could survive the hostilities of weather, power outages and more was necessary.”
Based on a distributed, parallel and fault-tolerant file system, XStream EFS is designed to manage large volumes of media, ultra-high data rates and the complexities of intense media environments, leveraging key technologies like SwiftRead to mitigate resource contention.
Putting Order to the Mass Amount of Media Captured
In addition to a rock-solid shared storage foundation, the team also needed a way to corral the large amounts of content received on a daily basis. Enter EditShare Flow, a robust media asset management platform fully integrated within the EFS solution. Serving as the control layer for managing content, Flow provided the production team tools to automate the daily ingest of content from camera card to EditShare XStream EFS server. Fast-logging templates captured important details, adding metadata to content and making it easily searchable – no tying up multiple editing systems to offload footage or losing valuable editing time searching for the right shot.
“We set up post in several hotel rooms with the EditShare XStream EFS server in the middle room and the surrounding rooms filled with Avid NLE systems,” says David. “We connected the entire setup via Ethernet. It required about 40 meters in total. Everyday the Wild Island cast would receive blank CF cards for their own handheld cameras, which were a mix of Canons, GoPros and Sony Action Cams. Add in 14 separate audio recorders that we had floating around, and we had lots of different files and formats to deal with back in post. But Flow really helped by automating a good deal of the ingest process and supporting a proprietary application we use for syncing audio.”
Part of the ingest process required a proprietary sync tool for anything that wasn’t shot with a GoPro. Each day, 14 audio clips that were approximately 12 hours in duration had to be matched with approximately 200 video clips, totalling 30 hours.
“After syncing the clips, we used the Flow Scan feature to bring the combined material into EFS,” David says. “This was a slightly different use-case scenario than the straightforward Flow Ingest that we did for GoPro captured material. Regardless, just like the straightforward Flow Ingest, Flow Scan generated a proxy file for every clip. This allowed us to log and assemble all of the proxy clips targeted for production into ‘project’ folders, which were reviewed by staff 6,000-plus miles away in Cologne, Germany, using the private cloud module, AirFlow to facilitate a secure remote collaboration workflow.”
Facilitating Remote Collaboration – Cutting Post Time in Half
Critical to the editorial review process was EditShare’s AirFlow, which allowed production staff in Cologne, Germany to connect to the “Wild Island” storage server via the internet. The team in Germany was able to review the proxy files and, if necessary, download the high-resolution files locally, make notations and edits and then upload for the on-location team.
“AirFlow was a great add-on for us,” David says. “It allowed a lot of people located in Germany to actually watch and comment on the clips and even the sequences we created on location. There was no exporting or re-encoding, no uploading to another platform. Our media was secure. AirFlow was very simple and incredibly helpful for reviewing and getting direction on material. In the end, it was a huge time saver and allowed us to be much more creative with developing the show.”
The editors imported the AirFlow proxies into Avid Media Composer and assembled scenes and complete programs. When the shooting was over, the high-resolution storage was flown back to Germany and the Avid sequences were relinked to the high-resolution material. David explains the productivity impact of the remote collaboration workflow: “This saved us 50 percent on the usual post-production time. It’s a workflow we have tested extensively, and the amazing thing is that AirFlow supports this same kind of workflow, not only with Avid but also with other editing applications such as Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro.”
Also assisting in the creative development onsite was EditShare’s advanced project sharing capabilities. Shipped as part of the shared storage environment, EditShare project sharing allowed editors to share projects and collaborate on story development, which is key in the fast-paced productions of reality TV productions.
“The XStream EFS system really gave us the margin of safety we needed with the content,” David says. “The decision to go with the new model was the right one. We needed to know that this system would be operational, regardless of what was thrown at it. The performance was so amazing that after one of the power outages, we didn’t even recognize that we forgot to power up one of the nodes. Really impressive.”
But there are two parts to the success equation for this setup. “Flow really helped us organize the massive amount of clips we had,” David says. “The support for Avid and the ability to work with proxy files really made the editorial workflow so much faster.”
For more information on EditShare solutions, please visit www.editshare.com.
4x EFS Node (32TB each)
2x Arista 7050 TX-64 Switch
Flow Databaseserver (32 TB)
Flow Worker Node
1x Flow Ingest
10x Flow Browse
Workstations for Logging:
6x Canon XF305
9x Canon XF105
40x CF Cards (128GB/64GB)
4 Sony Action Cams
1x Sony ODS –D55U Optical Disc Archive
30x 1,2 TB ODC 1200RE
EditShare media infrastructure eliminates content silos to bring continuity across media production workflow; Flow MAM, XStream EFS and Ark create tiered storage with extensive media sharing, production and automation capabilities Read More
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We’re all living inside a giant media asset management system. It’s called the universe, and some remote parts of it run intelligent software called “Humans”. We somehow manage to keep track of a seemingly infinite mountain of assets.
But we’re not very good at it. We forget things, and we definitely can’t keep track of every single blade of grass that drifts into our field of view. We’re imperfect. We lose stuff.
In the past, when our daily media workflow revolved around film reels and videotape, it wasn’t so bad. With film, you can see the content – you only had to look at it. And with videotape, at least you could stick a label on it before stacking it on a shelf.
Digital video is now a done deal. Tape is only used for archive and restoring vintage material. Today, production is done with files, and the problem with files is that they all look the same. In fact, they don’t look like anything at all. You can’t really “see” them: all you can see is the name of the file on a computer screen, and if your files have names like “ 000000” to “8738752”, with no additional data about the clip, then it is completely impossible to work with them unless you go through them one by one.
And even if the files have good, consistent names, what about multiple versions, each with slightly different content? What about different formats, aspect ratios, colour grades? The list is almost endless. Working without good asset management is a nightmare and a liability.
There’s a long list of software available to help. Not all of it does the same thing. It’s useful to break it down into three main categories.
- Media Asset Management (MAM) – traditionally focused on managing the lifecycle of finished media assets
- Digital Asset Management (DAM) – more of an emphasis on image and document assets so tends to be used more by general media agencies than post production facilities
- Production Asset Management (PAM) – this is for content creation and packaging: post production, in other words.
What are the prime reasons for adopting PAM in post production?
The biggest of all of these is organisation. From ingest to delivery, it’s essential to manage assets securely on behalf of your clients during the creative process. Every single asset is there for a reason, and it has a value. Organised assets are worth indescribably more than disorganised ones.
Automate repetitive or complex tasks. With the right software, you’ll be able to set up automated workflows and routines to do the most complicated jobs: jobs that cause projects to overrun, and which tie up valuable (expensive!) employees. Transcoding, QC workflows and content delivery can all be automated.
With multiple employees working on the same project, it’s essential to manage their collaborative efforts. If you get this right, it will turbo-charge your business. If you get it wrong, it’s at best inefficient, and at worst, a recipe for disaster.
Frees up resources
Stand-alone NLEs contain asset management, but without a centralised system, each one is an island, or “silo”. This leads to fragmented and ineffective workflows. Worse than this, these expensive resources are often tied up with browsing, logging, trimming and even previewing. None of these activities now need a fully-fledged NLE: virtually any modern computer – laptop or desktop – can be used for these tasks with the right PAM software, freeing up the NLEs for intensive craft work.
Create new business opportunities
The more control and visibility you have over your assets, the more you can share, package and distribute them, either business to business, or business to end user. Information is profit, and a good PAM creates and adds information at all stages of the process.
A well designed Production Asset Management (PAM) system improves your workflow and business efficiency. It makes complex tasks simple and routine. It maximises profitability while allowing your employees to focus on doing the best possible job. Your creative budgets will go further.
Editshare Flow is a scalable Production Asset Management system that simplifies and turbo-charges the creative process. Several editors can work on the same timeline – with all the major NLEs. Spread across all of Editshare’s products, it is a unified environment where creatives can work together while technicians, administrators and managers optimise the use of resources.
Editshare Flow is unique because it is designed from the ground-up to work with closely with Editshare’s shared storage, and yet is available either through a workstation or via the web.
And now with Flow Story, a fully-fledged remote NLE that’s built into the fabric of the Editshare ecosystem, the creative process can start anywhere, and any time, whether you’re in the office or working remotely via a broadband connection.
For more information on EditShare’s Flow asset management solution and how it integrates with their XStream storage range please go to their website: www.editshare.com/products/flow