Seminole Productions expands EditShare Shared Storage, Integrates Flow Media Asset Management and Ark Backup & Archiving.

Seminole Productions, a Florida State University (FSU) auxiliary organization, is known for giving its students the ultimate “hands-on” video production experience. Located in the athletics department, Seminole oversees a large [6000+sf) complex with two control rooms, a large studio with both green screen and conventional studio set up, and 19 Avid Media Composer 7 suites for use by both students and staff. It also operates a centralized control room that is connected via fibre to the university’s nearby football, baseball and basketball facilities as well as other athletic fields and stadiums. The production team, which is staffed with a mix of full-time video professionals/instructors and university students, is tasked with covering FSU live events, as well as producing the university’s pre- and post-game shows. The team covers an impressive 120+ live events and is responsible for producing 130+ athletic television programs yearly.

“We are a professional facility with equipment from the real world of broadcasting,” states Jim Garbarino, associate director of Seminole Productions. “You’ll find EditShare, Grass Valley, EVS, Avid and other manufacturers’ kits in regular use within the unit. Our aim is to give students an authentic view of what working in the media is all about.”

And that professional approach has paid off. With the university’s sports team consistently ranked, wildly popular, and heavily viewed, there is a significant investment in media production and programming. In fact, Seminole Productions’ infrastructure and workflow for producing live event coverage and pre- and post-game shows is so advanced, they are contracted by sports broadcasting heavyweights ESPN and FOX to produce FSU live and pre-/post-event programs on their behalf. ESPN has even installed two fibre connections between its headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, and the Seminole Productions facility.

“For ESPN, Seminole Productions manages the full production for men and women’s basketball, Pro Day and Spring Game football, baseball, volleyball, soccer and softball games. We have our media students work on all aspects of the ESPN production. The learning experience and exposure are phenomenal,” declares Garbarino. “The relationship and production have worked so well that Seminole Productions has been approached to produce a ‘Behind the Scenes’ show for ESPN sports programming.”

Seminole Productions is also a contractor for FOX Sports, producing the broadcaster’s segments for many FSU sports shows, as well as preview programs of upcoming games. “Like ESPN, our professional setup meets FOX’s standards. With FOX, we go one step further by providing insider access to the team’s activities, which gives way to more programming options such as pre-season shows. And like our deal with ESPN, our students get to work on primetime productions. It's a win-win all around.”

All material shot by the production unit is in high definition, but much is also produced in 3D Stereo. FSU is one of the few schools to create programs in that format. At least two 3D cameras cover university football games beyond the usual complement of 5 HD cameras.

Superb Storage

Central to the enormous production and post-production content management needs of the FSU unit is EditShare. Several years ago, the facility installed an EditShare shared storage system, and this proved invaluable to both students and staff.

“EditShare central storage meant that our editors could access all the material they needed for their particular programs much faster. Ingesting just once, and then making content available to all authorized users on the EditShare network, was a game changer – as was EditShare’s project sharing capabilities. We couldn’t work to our schedules today without having the EditShare system,” emphasizes Garbarino.

With increasing production and programming demands, Garbarino needed to expand the Seminole production infrastructure to support the growth. This past summer, Seminole added a 96TB EditShare Energy system with integrated Flow media asset management and Ark backup and archiving capabilities. They plan to implement EdtiShare’s AirFlow for web-based Flow access as soon as it is available.

Garbarino initially felt that the production facility would need only to increase its shared storage capacity and add an archive system. “The idea of integrated archives was great. However, when we saw EditShare’s Flow media asset management solution at NAB, we realized the enormous potential with regards to managing ingest and asset tagging and tracking, and hence added it to our must-have list.”

Huge Time Saving

By expanding the EditShare system to include Flow media asset management and Ark for integrated archiving, repeatedly digitizing the same content or spending hours looking for assets - whether they were on the shared storage system or in Seminole archives - would no longer be an issue. “Thanks to Flow, assets are tagged and stored on the EditShare in a logical manner, allowing staff to quickly and easily retrieve them. Previously, a search for an asset could take hours. Now it can be done in seconds. The pre-editing and pre-production time saved is enormous.”

The production team takes advantage of Flow’s centralized File Ingest capability, freeing Avid editing suites for editing. Sources of ingest include live feeds, P2 cards, Sony 700 cameras or the DSLRs generally employed for interviews.

“We create our own melts from cameras through our EVS system, and then store them on EditShare through Flow,” explains Garbarino. “If there is a multi-segment show being taped, the first segment is pushed to EditShare as soon as it is competed, and editors begin to work on it immediately even while the studio ops are still taping the next segment.”

One person is placed in charge of Saturday game-day content. The following day, several students tag the content ready for production purposes. Multiple staff members and students can then work on the footage, using Flow Browse to locate the required material and create packages throughout the week in readiness for the next pre-game program.

On a normal day, there can be between 12 and 20 people simultaneously accessing the material from EditShare for various projects. “Our production turnaround times are very fast and many editors are collaborating on projects simultaneously and continuously. The EditShare server is as solid as a rock, and with the expanded media asset management and archiving capabilities of Flow and Ark, it is facilitating our production and post-production workflow much more efficiently.”

Garbarino continues, “We were able to completely de-clutter our content by building a methodical metadata schema. We took advantage of the customizable metadata tags in Flow Logger and standardized the way we tag assets for just about every searchable play. For example, we have tags for completed passes between 10 and 19 yards or 20 and 29 yards. Now staff can quickly locate material for shows and trailers that need to show a series of successful passes from 10 to 19, 20 to 39, 40 to 59 yards, and so on.”

He goes on, “When we used to work on tape, it would take producers and editors many hours to find shots that illustrated a point. Now, thanks to Flow asset tagging and tracking, everyone has immediate access to the footage needed to complete his or her particular packages. No need to tie up an edit bay. We can log in from a standard desktop system and begin assembling our content.”

Further Operations

Beyond the television production requirements, EditShare helps FSU complete its other obligations. “Once the game programs go to air, the content is automatically sent to a digital media department, which manages the distribution to other platforms such as web.”

With the expanded EditShare workflow in place, the job of archiving historical material has started. Once the athletic seasons are over, and the production schedule is not as hectic, this process will intensify until all the material is in digital form. When completed, Seminole staff and students will be able to use Flow to search and retrieve material from the archives. They will be able to browse low-resolution proxies and use Flow to trigger migration of the full-resolution files from the archives back onto the main EditShare shared storage server. The automated process takes care of the technical complexities and file format conversions associated with archived materials.

Jim Garbarino concludes, “The expansion of our EditShare systems means that we have an even better production workflow than before. It has been of enormous benefit in meeting our production commitments. More than that, though, it has provided even more insight for our students when it comes to experiencing what the outside world of television production entails. It has been a fantastic investment from both an educational and production point of view.”