Oregon State University Covers Its Vast Learning Initiatives
Land, sea, sun and space…and everything in between
Deemed a preeminent research facility, Oregon State University is one of two educational institutions (Cornell being the other) to receive a land, sea, sun and space grant designation, making it one of the most comprehensive undergraduate, graduate and doctoral academic programs in the world. And to match its vast offering, the university recently implemented the end-to-end EditShare tapeless workflow solution to facilitate media production and sharing across its Media Services, Intercollegiate Athletics, Orange Media Network and Outreach and Engagement departments.
The EditShare installation facilitates convergence of each department’s operations and drives all production and post-production media management. It serves as the central hub of production for activities ranging from real-world newsroom production and playout operation to fulfilling requests from outside sources like sports broadcasters who want historical game and player footage on the latest OSU draftee, to creating online course material for the university’s hybrid classes.
“Although each department is independent, they do have reason to share assets,” comments Rick Brand, Associate Director for Technical Services at OSU’s Academic Technology department. “The existing setup made it incredibly difficult to locate and share media. Outreach and Engagement had been using a ‘sneaker-net’ setup, the Student Media department was still on analog devices and Athletics was on a shared platform that was at its capacity and near end of life. There was no centralized repository or mechanism for transcoding and making media usable. Adding to this complex setup, we operate in an environment where the students are always in transition, and in the process, some of the media goes with them. EditShare provides campus-wide standardization, allowing us to better take advantage of all content, whether it was captured five days ago or five years ago.”
The foundation of the campus-wide installation is based on a tiered storage platform comprised of over 200TB of EditShare shared storage, and a 160-slot Ark LTO tape library for integrated archive and backup. Multiple Geevs broadcast servers with tools for managing multi-camera and newsroom workflows facilitate a wide range of ingest and playout productions. EditShare’s Flow media asset management solution serves as the installation’s control layer, providing simple-to-use tools to manage media from ingest to archive. Acting as a mezzanine service across campus, Flow offers key automation and cloud-based production capabilities that organize content for easier and faster access, with AirFlow offering remote production support. And because EditShare is designed for collaboration, it integrates with industry-standard broadcast components like OSU’s Ross automation system and virtually all professional non-linear standard editing applications including Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and EditShare’s own Lightworks.
It’s all about research and finding the right technology partner
“When I first began looking for a media solution to replace our non-connected system, I knew that there were other ‘media production’ needs on campus. After taking stock of what was needed in terms of capabilities for each group, I looked for solutions that we could all somehow share and with that, share the cost, giving us all the capabilities we needed within the budget limitations of the university. It was an approach that was a bit outside the box, but it worked,” reflects Rick.
“We talked to a number of manufacturers and EditShare continually came to the top as the only technology flexible enough to be able to create a connected infrastructure that would support the various media needs of sports, news and education media production, without dictating a specific workflow for any one group,” he continues. “This was key, as while all the groups work independently, they have a need to share content and collaborate at varying times. With EditShare, no one loses their independence or media production capabilities. We saved money and kept our autonomy.”
The core of the EditShare multi-workflow installation, which is housed in the university’s new Student Experience Center building with fibre connections to each department, lets students and staff easily tap into media and share from any desktop or laptop system connected to the EditShare network. It also gives them user-friendly tools to efficiently capture, edit and distribute the content for their in-house newsroom, studio and athletic productions and online video courses, eliminating complexities of media migration and transcoding.
With technical expertise in media, Rick’s group took responsibility for administering the EditShare system and working with EditShare closely to design and deploy the massive installation. “The EditShare support piece has been great. With the installation, we’ve got some older hardware in our mix and of course, there were some challenges around that,” reflects Rick. “To ensure we were up and running, we spent a lot of time getting the older equipment to operate with the new installation. They even sent us new drives and network cards to ensure compatibility. This was significant as we had never had any major failures since day one of the installation.”
The hub of activity – news, e-courses, sports
Emulating the modern day newsroom, the Orange Media Network at the Student Experience Center boasts two brand new studios with state-of-the-art control rooms using EditShare Geevs connected to the Ross newsroom system. Rick comments on the new facility infrastructure, “The Student Media facility is outstanding. They have all the ingredients that make up a real-world facility and broadcast everything from news to magazine format shows to live music productions. Shows are recorded by Geevs in HD onto to the EditShare storage server and broadcasted back out by Tightrope Cablecast. Professional newsroom integration with the Ross Newsroom system gives the students hands-on experience to a proper news workflow.”
Over at the Outreach and Engagement department, also known as ‘ECampus’, students and staff are able to work remotely thanks to AirFlow. “The ECampus group creates a lot of hybrid courses for the university’s online classes. Just about all of these courses have a video component to them, such as an introduction by the instructor, and this is where AirFlow is important,” states Rick.
Adjunct instructors often record their introductions and other video course elements off campus. Since they are the content experts, these instructors need to give the initial edit directive and then send on to one of the ECampus editors for finalization. The entire editorial review facilitation from draft to final approval is managed by AirFlow. “We use AirFlow for the instructor review. We have created guest accounts where stakeholders can log in and view footage, make comments and set in and out points,” comments Drew Olson, ECampus Videographer. “The old way of doing it was uploading the unedited video on our server or YouTube and the instructors would send back timecodes of video they wanted to keep. Now, I just pull the footage into my NLE and can begin editing. It has been a huge time saver.”
And of course there is the Intercollegiate Athletics group, which is responsible for creating promos and programs for OSU’s world-class sports programs. Leveraging the centralized storage server, Flow and Ark, the production team, staffed by students and professionals, collaborates with story production through EditShare Project Sharing, tapping into the deep archives through EditShare Flow, pulling material back into production storage should a “Throwback Thursday” image be required for a promo or production. Rick adds, “The group is also using AirFlow for immediate production needs, where content needs to be reviewed and approved before distribution and the approver, such as a coach or Marketing, is not in the production room. AirFlow lets them log in and make notes.”
Rick’s group, Media Services, is responsible for capturing and creating highlights of the University’s many events, including athletics. “We produce the board show in the arena, from which we do a melt of that footage and we give it to Athletics for ingest to the EditShare,” says Rick. “We can all browse the footage thanks to Flow.”
And where does all this content eventually go? EditShare Ark Tape. “We have a lot of room on our EditShare online storage, but when we want to put something in deep archive, without forgetting about it, it goes into the Ark. With Flow tracking the assets and offering a nice interface to visually browse the archives, it’s easy to recall footage,” comments Rick.
Thanks to their combined research efforts and budget sharing, OSU has one of the most advanced media production infrastructures in the world, ensuring their students hit the ground running when they enter the media race.