ST. CLOUD UNIVERSITY BUILDS REAL-WORLD BROADCAST CENTER WITH EDITSHARE
Centralized storage and archiving creates production efficiencies and educational opportunities for university tv station.
Located in Minnesota, St. Cloud State University has developed a popular television production program centered around a “real” broadcast operation.
“UTVS (University Television Station) started cablecasting in 1978,” explains Derrick Silvestri, the TV studio manager, SH building coordinator and UTVS advisor. “We now operate the St. Cloud State Sports Network on Charter Channel 823 HD and Charter Channel 426 SD along with UTVS Channel 21. UTVS also provides 24-hour streaming through Livestream, and the News operation provides live streaming on the UTVS News (www.utvsnews.com) website for viewers.”
The station generates a variety of programming ranging from live local news five days a week, Spanish news, sports including hockey, basketball and football, and music programming. There is also a selection of non-live programs, including a movie review show, sports highlights, and general entertainment and community affairs programming.
Derrick says that each year provides an opportunity for new programming content with the fresh intake of students bringing diverse ideas to the station.
He explains, “Students enrolled in broadcast or production courses are required to participate in a course lab, which, in this case, involves our news broadcasts, with a 5pm and 6pm newscast Monday to Friday, which goes out live to over 33,000 households. Furthermore, students in specific production courses produce different programming that is also aired on UTVS. A majority of our student members - over one hundred - are also involved in producing content for a wide range of shows that are not course-specific. Our hockey transmissions are the only paid broadcasts that have an entire student production crew, with professional talent and a faculty/staff advisor and engineer.”
Upgrade for efficiency
Already a highly efficient operation, UTVS turned to professional system integrator Alpha Video (Edina MN), to upgrade its systems to include EditShare high-performance shared storage, asset management, and archiving solutions. These additions, which were also deployed by Alpha Video, have enabled Derrick’s team to create a better workflow and take advantage of more production opportunities. “In all, we purchased and installed a 128TB XStream shared storage unit, Flow media asset management with capabilities for ingest and browse, and Ark Tape with a 24-slot LTO-6 tape library.”
EditShare XStream systems can start out with just one 16-drive storage unit. Then, as demands increase, up to four storage expansion units can be added to create a total of 80 drives. And with high-capacity disks, that generates over 320TB of storage in a single XStream server. Flow is EditShare’s powerful media asset management software that provides the ability to manage any file type, not just video content. The system allows audio clips, still images and documents to be tracked throughout a project. Users can even add their own “asset type” metadata to these files.
Ark Tape provides an integrated solution for easy, energy-efficient backup and archiving of media and projects from EditShare shared storage systems. Designed for EditShare's own LTO-6 tape libraries, which range from 24-slot to 560-slots, Ark Tape seamlessly integrates with Flow, making restoration a breeze. Whenever media files are sent to Ark Tape, a proxy file is automatically created so you can view what's on your LTO tapes in Flow Browse. When you restore from Ark Tape, you can either select the exact files you want to restore using the Flow Browse interface, or you can restore the entire EditShare Spaces to the exact state they were in on any date when an Ark Job was run.
Replacing Silos with Collaborative Solutions
Prior to switching to EditShare, tapeless editing with P2 cards and SD cards was carried out using external hard drives and several dedicated MacPros with 1TB hard drives. Sports melts and footage were stored on Mini-DV and BetacamSP tapes, while several shared 1TB drives were used to store features and content.
For editing, the facility uses Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer 7 and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. All 12 editors have 27” iMacs with Panasonic P2 Readers.
Derrick reports that after an extensive search for a storage and archive solution, the EditShare equipment was purchased because it is the most cost-effective and user-friendly storage system available. With EditShare, all non-linear editing workstations are connected to the shared storage server with advanced project sharing capabilities that allow editors to collaborate on projects and programs, eliminating the pains of a sneaker-net setup.
Centralization is crucial
“The most important workflow benefit EditShare has created is the provision of a central place to store and retrieve assets – the XStream shared storage server with integrated Flow Asset Management and Ark archiving - to store various content, such as news features, hockey melts and complete shows. Prior to our implementation of EditShare, storage was not consolidated and was often on random computers and arbitrary hard drives, with no organizational system and no media asset management.”
He continues, “EditShare Flow allows our producers, reporters and programming department to access content, review low-resolution proxies, and organize production material all from their desktop systems. No need to use one of the editors to review content. It’s faster, more efficient and much more organized in terms of content indexing and storing. In the past, if a reporter wanted a hockey melt, he or she had to physically get the tape from the producer, ingest the tape, and then edit the file on the computer. Now, everyone has an opportunity to access that file off the EditShare shared storage server via EditShare Flow – and that has significantly increased productivity.”
Derrick states that the specific benefit of using EditShare Ark is the ease, with which content can be backed up – and then readily accessed for subsequent use. In addition, the LTO-6 tape library provides further backup of content for future access in a format that is small enough to store in the station’s archiving facility. “LTO-6 archiving with Ark Tape is extremely cost-effective compared to the use of additional hard drives.”
He goes on, “We plan on archiving all our sports melts and broadcasts, as well as all of our news features and production material, for five or ten years to come. We also anticipate eventually archiving all of our standard definition archives, which amounts to thousands of tapes, and making them digital H.264 or MPEG-2 files for ease of access.”
When producing the station’s hockey broadcasts, between three and 13 personnel simultaneously use them system, while during news transmissions the number ranges from six to 12. “All of our editing suites are connected to the EditShare shared storage server, allowing a significant number of reporters and producers to access content at the same time.”
He concludes, “EditShare gives us the flexibility to have our producers and editors access all of their content from any computer on the EditShare network, which allows for greater collaboration and time saving. Furthermore, the central storage of all of sports, news and historical content in combination with Flow asset management provides for the most efficient access to required material. With news and other production content available to all of our students, we can facilitate easier collaboration and editing, which increases the productivity of our workflows. It was the right move to install EditShare.”