Avid Solutions at the Heart of the Image Hub at the Centre National De La Danse

By in Video Editing

The Image Hub at the Paris-based Centre National de la Danse (CND) is tasked with keeping a video record of everything that happens there, acting as both a RAM memory and a heritage media library. Beyond that, its role is to transmit, preserve and enhance the dance archives. A few months ago, the Image Hub updated its equipment with a 64TB Avid | ISIS 5500 centralised storage solution and an Avid Interplay | Production asset management tool, working on the MediaCentral | UX cloud-based collaboration platform. Post-production expert Vidélio Cap’Ciné, a partner of the CND for more than 10 years, installed the new system. The final outcome is a powerful workflow that greatly simplifies the post-production and archiving stages.

The new Avid stations used for the production of audiovisual content at the Centre National de la Danse.

Le Centre National de la Danse

The Image Hub of the CND, run by a team of five staff, is the only place in Europe transmitting and preserving this visual history of dance, with interviews, testimonials and recordings of performances adding an educational dimension. The Hub is located within the CDN’s premises in Paris, and from the outset the production and post-production methods were designed to allow for development as technology improved. Until 2003, the production format was Digital Betacam and post-production was done using two Avid Media Composer edit suites with Avid Media Dock local storage. By 2010, the Image Hub had undertaken several upgrades to its editing suites and the Media Composer units were mainly used to edit performance recordings.

Stéphane Caroff, Head of the Image Department at the Centre National de la Danse.

In 2010, the Hub switched to HD format with a Nitris DX upgrade of the Avid stations and Sony XDCAM HD filming units. This new format enabled the team to switch to a file-based system,. However in 2013 the question of obsolescent systems arose, as noted by Stéphane Caroff, manager of the Image Hub: “I’d been thinking for a while about the changes we needed. We had to produce more and more content and start digitising the archives of the Dance Cinema Library, which we had acquired in 2012. However, budget constraints mean you can’t always do everything as soon as you’d like. But things began to take shape. The CDN received a one-off grant, and as it was not set out in the initial budget, we had to move fast to use it.”

Avid and Vidélio Cap'Ciné worked together on the installation of the editing stations.

“In October 2014 we launched a feasibility study, and by the end of December the work was complete. The new equipment was quickly implemented, partly because of the support we got from Vidélio Cap’Ciné, our long-time partners, and from Avid France.”


—Stéphane Caroff, manager of the Image Hub

The node with its bays, the nerve centre of storing and sharing media at the Centre National de la Danse.

The Image Department now has access to five Media Composer editing systems on Nitris DX hardware.

The Image Hub now has five Media Composer units, including two Nitris DX stations, and a 64TB Avid | ISIS 5500 centralised storage unit—and everything is managed by an Interplay | Production unit with Media Central | UX.

The new equipment is used not only to produce CDN’s own content, but also to manage all the archives, which initially presented a big problem because there was no inventory or archiving. The Dance Cinema Library had some recordings on hard disk, but also hundreds of VHS cassettes. A content inventory had to be created, and priorities established for processing and digitising this content.

The audiovisual archive now includes all the collections in one – around 15,000 records in total. “Our archiving work has been made so much easier now that we have such a large storage capacity and a new working environment. The archives have grown over the years, and to absorb this volume we had to update our equipment. We needed to find solutions to broadcast the content with fewer and fewer resources, and make workflows more fluid,” says Stéphane Caroff.

The Avid ISIS | 5500 centralised storage, with 64Tb capacity, provides access to the Centre National de la Danse’s archives.

A coherent workflow

The CDN includes numerous dance studios, although only three are accessible for public performances. They have video and audio links with remote control, which makes recording easier, allowing signals to be received to the node. 90% of recordings are made with a single camera and a Sony PDW-700 camcorder in XDCAM HD. Filming these performances is part of the key remit of the Image Hub. Beyond performance, the production hub also conducts interviews with dancers, artists and choreographers.

The arrival of the Avid Interplay | Production asset management tool has considerably changed the workflow; for example, the availability of low-res versions via the Avid MediaCentral | UX platform now gives librarians access to all the digitised items from their desktop. Data export can be done quickly and easily, for example to create Media Library catalogues. “The Avid MediaCentral | UX system is easy to use and requires much less administration than I expected,” said Stéphane Caroff.Its users are not necessarily technicians, but despite that, everyone took to it quite quickly. It’s reliable and stable. From now on, both archivists and librarians will have access to records from the start, which can be used more easily. Editing procedures have been simplified for basic editing and rights management has become easier. In total, hundreds of hours of footage is produced every year”

Avid and Vidélio Cap’Ciné were able to provide a suitable solution to meet the needs of the CDN Image Hub, playing a major role in the production and preservation of historic dance content.

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