PILOT uses EditShare to manage growth of post facility

Monday, September 10, 2012

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When doing upfront pieces or creative pitches, PILOT often has several editors cutting different versions of the same project in order to present many options.

PILOT, a Manhattan-based post-production facility, has significantly grown in terms of projects, tripling the number of non-linear editing rooms since opening its doors in 2008. A full-service creative brand and media consultancy agency, PILOT provides professional post services for a number of genres, including Reality Episodic, Film, and Brand Integration. Their impressive client list includes A&E, FX, The Food Network, NBC, and Turner.

For PILOT’s Systems Administrator and Post-Production Supervisor, Nathan Rausch, it has been challenging to keep pace with the facility’s expansion. Adding to the mix of growth hurdles Nathan faces is the ever-changing technology. New standards and formats add a level of complication to the busy post facility whose many projects already come with a wide-range of formats to manage. 

Behind the scenes with Post Supervisor Nathan Rausch 
Anytime PILOT discusses adding another edit room or a new format, we need to assess the viability of the technology PILOT is using for acquisition, editing, storage, asset management, and cable infrastructure. This has been the process from the day our doors opened back in 2008.

PILOT was busy out of the gate. On any given day, a truckload of media would show up. For the quick turnaround of projects, the content would need to be ingested and screened by multiple producers and writers on-site and off-site. So from the very beginning, proxy generation and asset management were a key element in the PILOT workflow, and we designed PILOT’s original infrastructure comprising of Apple Xsan and Final Cut Pro (FCP) with Final Cut Server. 

A Change in Technology Opens the Future 
In 2011, Apple changed course and stopped developing Final Cut Server. During that same time, PILOT was in the midst of a substantial agency expansion. The combination of the two prompted us to assess our workflow needs and consider an infrastructure makeover to better support future technologies and projects. We came to the conclusion that PILOT would design a collaborative editing workflow around a centralized storage system that would support more than Apple applications and formats. The central storage platform would need to be a shared solution that would support multiple editing vendors and a much wider range of file formats, including those introduced in the future. It would need to be highly scalable with options for cost-effective expansion.  

PILOT finds EditShare MAM Enabled Storage
After pricing out and comparing several SAN & NAS solutions partnered with combinations of asset management systems, we decided on Editshare with Flow asset management leveraging Gigabit Ethernet. 

As a systems integrator and media workgroup consultant, I have had experience with EditShare and felt confident with its technology, support and commitment to the industry. However, we did have one main concern and that was the move from Fibre to Ethernet. PILOT’s content/data needs are significant. After a thorough bandwidth testing, and knowing that 10GB Ethernet is an option should we need to move to higher bandwidth needs, we put that concern to bed.

The implementation of the new EditShare infrastructure let PILOT expand from five to 15 edit bays equipped with a mix of Avid and FCP applications. We doubled the amount of storage available and were able to use multiple NLE's simultaneously in any combination we needed throughout the agency. 

PILOT’s vast scope of service offerings caters to an array of clientele and just about every type of media available: XD-cam, RED, ProRes, AVC, DVCPRO, MXF, P2 and more. And the newly designed infrastructure let us manage any file format situation with ease. 

PILOT staff access media in any room from any editing application.  They can also access it from a standard desktop system through the Flow MAM application. This capability is a key timesaver. With Flow, producers and writers have the ability to make string-outs and rough cuts from proxies, which can be then be dragged and dropped by editors into FCP or Avid for finishing. The EditShare system automatically re-links to the actual media files with no delay. This cuts out the time-consuming step of logging or paper cutting, then having the editor track down that particular shot in the original source footage.

The system also gives the team more of a selection. Rather than looking at select reels or a rough cut, the creative staff have access to all of the source footage and dailies, giving them the full view of available content without the need to tie up an edit bay or editor. 

The new EditShare installation also provided enormous gains in project sharing. EditShare's ability to share and collaborate on Avid projects is impeccable. Throw in the ability to lock and manage FCP project files, or use them as if they were the equivalent of read-only bins in Avid, and PILOT editors and assistant editors are collaborating better than ever. 

At a moments notice, the direction can change to “everyone start cutting a new version based on Edit Bay 1’s current version.” The Editor in Edit Bay 1 clicks ‘save’ and everyone can immediately begin cutting their own version of the saved sequence, without the need to exchange XMLs or copy a project file. This kind of rapid turnaround is invaluable to our clients.

As a post supervisor, one of the biggest benefits is that all of the cuts and projects are found in the same folder. We no longer have to search for files stored on local drives and ask the team "where did you put that last edit?” Projects / content are saved in a logical manner, easily retrievable through the Flow search engine for future use. 

A Collaborative Platform is Key
Implementing a MAM / shared storage platform for the PILOT infrastructure proved key in managing the increasing growth and dynamic number of formats we manage on a daily basis. Today, everyone has structured access to every piece of media at any given time, in any room or producer desk. Once an asset comes in, screeners screen, writers write, editors log and cut, and graphic design starts. Sometimes this happens simultaneously. Regardless the situation, the infrastructure we designed manages it with ease and allows us to focus on producing a great PILOT product for our clients.

About the EditShare Tapeless Workflow
EditShare seamlessly integrates high-performance shared storage solutions — XStream, Energy and the newly announced Atom — with video ingest (Geevs and Flow), media asset management (Flow), and archive (Ark), to offer broadcast and post-production professionals a productivity-enhancing, tapeless workflow on a highly scalable infrastructure. With powerful capture, logging, searching, sequence creation, and project sharing, as well as easy archiving, the workflow becomes streamlined and more efficient. From start to finish, metadata and media are easily searchable and accessible from EditShare central storage or archives. Background processes are also transparent to users, allowing them to focus on their creative efforts.

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