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Avid Media Composer and EditShare Solution Delivers Smooth Workflow

Fremantle Media’s production of the Channel Ten show MasterChef Australia captures 4.11 million viewers.

On a cold Sunday night in July, no less than 4.11 million viewers tuned in to watch the finale of Channel Ten’s smash-hit show, MasterChef Australia. The finale capped a phenomenally successful series, with MasterChef rated as Australia’s No.1 show so far this year and Ten’s highest rating show since OzTAM ratings began in 2005.

Huge Amount of Raw Content

Shows don’t get to be this huge by accident. In this case, a key element of the show’s success was Fremantle Media’s post-production work. Fremantle could be said to have cornered the reality-TV market, producing Biggest Loser, Project Runway and Farmer Wants a Wife, among others.

Scott Rowan, Director of Post Production at Fremantle says ‘These kinds of programmes often use up to 8 cameras and generate a huge amount of raw content. A series like MasterChef can produce up to 6,500 40-minute tapes; that’s about 60 hours of source material for every hour of programming. You can imagine how important smooth workflow is, especially when you have to deliver 5 hours of programming a week for just one show. Last February, FremantleMedia delivered 20 hours in one week.’

Digistor Key Partner

To cope with this extreme workload, Fremantle turned to Digistor, one of their key partners, to scale up their systems.

‘We’d been renting some gear, but once we appreciated the true scale of MasterChef we knew we had to expand,’ says Scott. ‘We’ve worked closely with Digistor for over eight years now, and we’ve been at the leading edge of the business technology-wise the whole time. Digistor have always helped us to get over the line, they’ve been with us throughout our development.’

Digistor installed 17 Avid Media Composers, two Symphony Nitris Suites and a 20-terabyte EditShare system. Adding to Fremantle’s existing suites, this gave Fremantle over 70 Media Composers and the capacity to handle their workload internally. Sixteen of the Avid systems were installed on the latest Apple Mac Pro Nehalem 8-core systems.

Avid, EditShare and Digistor

‘Avid is the only editing product on the market that could possibly cope with our workload,‘ says Scott, ‘its workflow, media management and finishing tools are second to none. Symphony is also critical to turning out six episodes a week. It’s the only product that enables us to dothat. One huge advantage we have is that we use the same set-up on all our shows, so our staff can switch from one job to the next almost seamlessly. Without this combination of smooth workflow and superb technology we’d never get it all done on time, whilst maintaining the highest standards.”

Fremantle’s Senior in-house engineer, Nick Parker adds ‘In this business, reliability is absolutely critical, which is one reason why we’re an all-Mac shop. Our longstanding relationship with Digistor and their broad experience help us to ensure virtually zero downtime. This allows us to concentrate on evolving and moving forward without worrying about technical hitches.’

Scott adds ‘I know that with Digistor I can get a custom-built system to suit whatever show I’m working on – this kind of dedicated technology delivers huge productivity increases. Digistor help us with all our pre-planning and enable us to get the ball rolling. By involving them from the start we really lower our operational risk; this means that once we’re up we rarely need a service call.’

The EditShare installation, a 20TB 8RU unit, is designed to maximise media sharing and storage for their multi-user editing environment on MasterChef. EditShare’s Project Sharing works inside the Avid application so that editors can see all the bins and project files being used by all editors in their group.

Fast-Paced Reality TV

Digistor’s Managing Director, Andrew Mooney said, ‘We’re once again excited to be part of Fremantle’s major rollout of Avid and EditShare systems. The Fremantle environment in reality-based TV production is fast-paced and requires strict turnaround times. Avid’s well proven edit workflow, coupled with EditShare’s flexibility, performance and competitive price gives Fremantle the edge they need.