By Alex Farmatino, Coordinating Producer at Raycom Sports
For the past 4 decades Raycom Sports' has produced collegiate sports content for both syndicated and cable packages distributed nationwide. In addition to our current partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference (we handle production for the conference's "Regional Sports Network" and will be providing production services for ESPN's coming ACC Network) we have also produced live mobile and documentary content for the Carolina Panthers, Blizzard Entertainment, The Basketball Tournament and Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live. As Coordinating Producer, I have been fortunate to work with our great staff and hundreds of freelancers across the country to produce Emmy-winning content for Raycom Sports since 2004.
At the end of 2017, we were presented with an exciting but daunting challenge from our corporate office, digitize our entire video library. While our current video workflow had been fully digital for multiple years, 40 years of content creation left a massive amount of invaluable historical assets on video tape. Our overall collection of nearly 40,000 tapes ranged from high definition formats like HDCAM and DVCPro to Betacam and 3/4 inch. Any operation who has functioned for decades is familiar with this dilemma.
The conversation concerning what approach to implement for this initiative went on for years for a variety of reasons. Off-site housing of a video library can be very effective with the appropriate budget, but several factors made that workflow a tough functional reality for a mid-sized production operation like ours. Since storage is a monthly cost in any remote library arrangement, all conversations about storing our entire video library elsewhere resulted in contingencies of lowering the quality of video archived or increasing the acceptable turnaround time for assets retrieved to lower expense. As someone most concerned with the quality of video content and the workflow environment for our editing staff, these concessions were unacceptable. The connectivity and storage necessary to make a remote archive function as if it were on location ultimately proved too cumbersome.
So how best to store these newly digital assets locally? Having utilized XDCAM cartridges since our jump to High Definition, we had witnessed first-hand the durability and read/write speed benefits of Sony's disc-based solutions. That experience, combined with the massive Optical Disc Archive (ODA) workflow implemented by the Golf Channel, among others, demonstrated that massive asset libraries could be stored locally without using data tape. Having also seen the Carolina Panthers implement the ODA solution (Raycom Sports has broadcast the Panthers preseason games since the team's inception since 1995), we were convinced ODA was the best fit for all of our production needs as we took this first step into the world of digital video libraries.
Thanks primarily to the tireless efforts of our Production/Archive Manager, Rob Chorney, Raycom Sports has digitized over 20,000 video tapes as of December 1st, 2018. The material digitized represents about 85% of our Atlantic Coast Conference content (we've been a broadcasting ACC football and basketball games since 1983) and about 60% of our overall library. Our Sony Optical Disc Archive PetaSite implementation consists of 3 chassis housing 190 slots of ODA storage and four Gen2 drives. In total, this footprint gives us over 600 TBs of storage in our active repository. Masstech's Flashnet middleware allows for editors working within our Avid Media Central environment to archive and retrieve assets from within the Avid GUI, something that has increased editing efficiency across the board. We have even seen an increase in our video licensing revenue with so many assets more readily available for distribution.
Thus far we are extremely pleased with the PetaSite system. Thanks to its potential for scalability and the coming release of Gen3 technology, I am confident our video library will be securely housed by Sony for years to come.
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