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Fast-Paced Storytelling on NBC’s The Voice

In the world of reality TV, there are successful shows—and then there’s The Voice. NBC’s hit singing competition is a cultural phenomenon, drawing 13 million viewers for each episode. Now in its tenth season, The Voice is more interesting and engaging than ever.

The show has evolved beyond the standard competition format to blend a unique mix of behind the scenes storytelling, exciting live performances, and candid interviews. Over the course of each season, the audience gets to know each of the contestants and their backstory, which ads a personal touch and engages viewers on a level that’s rarely seen in television.

It takes a small army to put each episode together—the editing team is made up of 22 individual editors! Deadlines are extremely tight, and the team often only has a day or two to turn the raw footage into a cohesive episode. With such a large team and so much on the line, collaboration is essential.

In our new video filmed live at NAB 2016, supervising editors Jason Stewart and A.J. Dickerson and graphics producer Daniel Cox discuss how cutting-edge Media Composer workflows enhance collaboration and enable the team to meet extremely tight deadlines and turnaround times—show after show, week after week, season after season.

  • See how they turn a massive amount of footage into cohesive artist stories
  • Learn how their editing process has evolved over the years
  • Discover how they quickly handle last minute changes
  • Get an inside look at different stages of the editing process

Go behind the scenes of one of the most popular shows on television—watch the video now.

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Expand and Accelerate Your Workflow with Avid Post Production Bundles

Our industry is evolving rapidly, and video post professionals are facing unprecedented challenges. The projects coming through the door are getting bigger and more complex. The rising demand for high-res video content is straining infrastructures and making media management more difficult. Audiences expect higher-quality content. And to top it all off, turnaround times are razor thin.

Whether your post-production work involves movies, TV shows, documentaries, or commercials, new Avid Post Production Bundles can help you streamline workflows, boost efficiency, and deliver your best work possible. Avid Post Production Bundles give you a complete turnkey solution for cutting-edge post production, including new Avid NEXIS intelligent storage and Media Composer software. The bundles integrate seamlessly with your existing Avid solutions, as well as third-party applications like Premiere, Resolve, and Final Cut Pro X.

Avid NEXIS is the world’s first software-defined storage platform for media. Offering unrivaled media storage flexibility, scalability, and control for both Avid-based and third-party workflows, Avid NEXIS is the only storage platform built with the flexibility to grow with you at every stage of your business. Manage your system with unrivaled ease, visibility, and control. Scale your system for any workflow—from terabytes to petabytes. Give critical projects and high-priority teams maximum performance to shared assets while throttling back on less important workflows. With Avid NEXIS you get the reliability you need today, the scalability for tomorrow, and the technology to take your production to the next level.

Media Composer Upgrades Extended for a Limited Time

Media Composer pro video editing software delivers powerful features that will expand your workflow and enable you to edit faster and more intuitively than ever before. Cut with confidence using tools that keep up with the speed of your imagination. Create bigger, richer soundtracks with support for up to 64 audio tracks. Achieve more realistic and dramatic imagery with new HDR workflows, and much more. Take your editing to the next level with the industry’s most celebrated NLE.

The Avid Artist | DNxIO video interface enables you to capture, monitor, and output HD, Ultra HD, 2K, and 4K media quickly—in the highest quality possible. And because it’s designed to be open and flexible, you can use it with your favorite Avid and third-party creative tools.

With Avid Post Production Bundles, you’ll enjoy the industry’s most secure and reliable workflows, trusted by the world’s top production companies and post houses. Gain the agility to adapt quickly to changes without downtime, and easily scale your system to meet your changing needs.

For a limited time, you can purchase an Avid Post Production Bundle and save more than 20% off regular pricing. Contact Avid Sales or visit an Avid reseller to take advantage of this special offer.

Save 20% with an Avid Post Production Bundle

Expand and accelerate your post production workflow with a complete turnkey solution bundle.

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Avid NEXIS is Now Available—Delivering the Industry’s First and Only Software-defined Storage Platform

We’re excited to announce that Avid NEXIS, the industry’s first and only software-defined storage platform specifically designed for storing and managing media, is now available! This award-winning platform enables fully virtualized storage so media organizations can adjust storage capacity mid-project, without disrupting workflows.

Avid NEXIS delivers unrivaled media storage flexibility, scalability, and control for both Avid-based and third-party workflows. Designed to serve the smallest production teams as powerfully as the largest media enterprises, it’s the only storage platform built with the flexibility to grow with customers at every stage of their business.

Thanks to the openness of Avid Everywhere, Avid NEXIS works with all top media creation applications, including Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Grass Valley EDIUS, and many more. Production teams can quickly access a shared pool of virtualized storage resources, which dramatically increases their efficiency.

“We are thrilled about the versatility of the new Avid NEXIS storage platform. Avid has done a great job of adding in the flexibility needed for the many different types of productions that access a single storage system. We are very excited to offer this new technology to our clients.”

—Jon Mauldin, vice president Technology at FotoKem NLS

Avid NEXIS is the only scale-out storage solution that enables our customers to dynamically tune the system to ensure that high-priority workflows always have the capacity, performance and data protection levels they require. Users can give critical projects maximum performance, while throttling back on less critical workflows. This ability lets teams react quickly to changes, adjusting performance and protection levels to match the needs of a project at any stage in the workflow.

The unique modularity of Avid NEXIS enables teams to mix and match storage engines and elastically scale capacity from as little as 20 TB to over 1.4 PB in a single system, without any interruption in service or down time. All Avid NEXIS systems are powered by the Avid NEXIS | FS file system, so customers experience consistent performance, reliability, and protection, regardless of configuration size.

The Avid NEXIS family includes several new storage engine options, designed to meet any scalability and density requirement:

Avid NEXIS is Now Available

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Is there a DR in the House? Disaster Recovery Explained

It seems that everyone I know has a story to tell about the time they lost work when their computer died. The more dramatic versions of these stories typically involve tight deadlines for projects with big bucks on the line. And the usual epilogue to these stories is how they will never ever let this happen again. Backing up data for these folks is now a fanatical obsession.

Fortunately, we live in an age where storage is relatively cheap and plentiful, and systems are available to automate backups. So it’s easy to set things up so that you never have to worry about losing data.

 

Disaster Recovery

In business-speak, disaster recovery is defined as the set of policies, procedures, and systems to enable the continuation of critical business functions. Any outage of the production systems may result in disruption of a business and cause financial loss. To mitigate the risk of such outages, companies can design and deploy disaster recovery systems to minimize data loss and downtime.

In general, operational risk is defined as the risk of losing value when bad things happen – earthquakes, hurricanes, attacks by killer bees, etc.

Operational risk is managed by keeping losses within some level of risk tolerance which is determined by balancing the costs of improvement against the expected benefits. Having redundant components or full system replication is a means to mitigate risks of failures.

This table shows common operational risks, with examples and possible solutions to mitigate risks.

Operational risks

Example

Solution

Hardware/software failure

Server crash

Redundant system components

Localized outage

Loss of power to a server room

Local system replication

Site outage

Hurricane

Regional system replication

DR Modes

A system is always in one of two modes: primary or backup. Only one of the systems can be in the primary mode at any time. Under normal operation, the initial active system is running in primary mode and updates are sent to another system (or systems) operating in backup mode. This allows the backup system to be ready to assume the primary mode in case of an emergency.

When a disaster is declared, a system that was previously operating in backup mode starts operating in primary mode. This event is called failover. When the failed system is restored, it then acts as the backup to the newly designated primary system. This event is called failback. Note that the primary and backup roles are interchangeable between the systems.

 

DR System Configurations

There are multiple server configurations that can be used in Disaster Recovery systems. The diagrams below show typical configurations. Common to all configurations, system A is continually backed up to system A’. If system A fails, clients can immediately connect to system A’ while system A is restored.

 

Active / Passive

In the Active / Passive configuration is the most vanilla of DR configurations. Server System A is continually backed up to System A’. System A’ is only brought online when System A fails, in which case the clients would connect to System A’.

Active / Passive configuration is the most basic configuration for DR. The A’ system is effectively a “warm standby” system that will only be used in the case of a disaster.

 

Active / Active

In the Active / Active configuration both Systems A and A’ are used by clients and are continuously synchronized with each other. If either System A or A’ fails, then the clients of the failed system switch over to connect to the working server.

Active / Active configuration has an added advantage in that both systems can be used simultaneously. However, it may have complications such as conflicts if the same data is changed by different people in both the A and A’ systems. Systems that allow for Active / Active configurations typically allow setting policies for conflict resolution.

 

Shared Active / Active

In the Shared Active / Active configuration two separate systems are over-provisioned to act as a mutual backup. If system A/B’ fails, then the A clients would connect to system A’/B, and vice versa.

The Shared Active / Active configuration has advantages over the two previous configurations in that both systems can be continuously used, without the complications of data conflicts.

You can see more DR configurations in this technical brief.

 

Local Replication

An Interplay Production system is commonly deployed with Avid shared storage systems, either ISIS or Avid NEXIS. These systems can be configured to have local replication using the configurations listed above. For example, here is an Active / Passive configuration.

A second complete system can be configured at another location within the site. This system is considered the Backup Workgroup. An instance of the Interplay Copy service is configured to continuously back up the data in the Primary Workgroup to the Backup Workgroup. This process copies the clips and sequences (asset metadata) as well as the video and audio files (asset essence) to the Backup Workgroup.

 

Regional Replication

For regional replication, where the connection between the two systems has high latency, i.e. over a WAN, the mirroring to the backup system can be performed using the backup and restore functionality in Interplay. A synchronization application can be configured to make a copy of the Interplay backup data to the backup system in an Active / Passive configuration.

The following commands are scheduled to run at a given interval (daily, every 8 hours, every hour, etc.):

  1. A backup of the Primary Workgroup runs
  2. The synchronization application copies the backup data from the Primary Workgroup to the Backup Workgroup
  3. The database is restored to the Backup Workgroup

The media files can be copied using the same synchronization application. A File Gateway system is configured to allow access to the remote backup system using the CIFS client.

 

Applications for Synchronizing Files

There are several applications available for synchronizing file systems. Mirroring is used for Active / Passive systems, where the primary file system is copied to the backup system. Synchronization is used for Active / Active systems, where changes made on either file system are made on the other system.

This table shows free utilities that can be used to actively mirror or synchronize file systems:

Application

OS Availability

Mirror

Sync

robocopy

Win

Yes

No

rsync

Win, Linux, Mac

Yes

No

Unison

Win, Linux, Mac

Yes

Yes

These applications all have the option to use file dates to optimize scanning and file transfers. When files are copied, the new file’s modification date is updated to match the original file. This allows the application to cut down on file “scanning” to determine if a file has been changed, making the process faster.

The applications also have the ability to skip over specified folders. This can be used to prevent the copying of files that are actively being created.

Using Scripts for Continuous Backups

Note that all three sync apps mentioned above work as a “one shot”.  The commands will not run in a continuous mode without some further scripting. However, this can be easily achieved in most scripting languages, using power of “goto technology”:

 

echo mirroring system-a to system-a-prime %date% %time%

:start

robocopy system-afolder system-a-primefolder /e /purge /xd creating

timeout /T 60 > NUL

goto start

 

The script above will repeatedly copy new or changed files from System A to A’. It starts in the directory named “folder”. The “/e” flag specifies a recursive copy, which scans all subdirectories looking for files to copy. The “/purge” flag causes the deletion of files and directories that no longer exist on System A. The “/xd” flag will cause the application to skip over files in any folder named “creating”.

Also note the number 60 in the timeout command. This specifies a one minute delay between file system scans to reduce the CPU and IO load. This number can be tuned to balance the I/O load and frequency of backups to the DR system.

DR Tag Team at the ACA

At the ACA in Vegas last week, I gave a presentation on DR with Dan Keene from World Wrestling Entertainment.  WWE is a global sports entertainment company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The company is one of the largest producers of original content distributed to 180 countries across the globe. They produce more than 40 hours of original programming every week. Dan discussed WWE’s plan to build a regional Active / Passive DR system to duplicate their production media on Avid shared storage and Interplay to a virtualized environment at a remote location using the techniques mentioned above.

We got some good questions after the talk. Here are a couple of them with answers:

 

Q: What software are you using for switching clients from the primary to the backup system?

A: WWE uses a utility called Production Selector from Jelly Bean Media to automate the connection to their systems.

 

Q: How do you keep the users and workspaces between the primary and backup shared storage systems in sync?

A: Currently it’s a manual process. Changes to users and workspaces on the primary system must be made to backup system. Avid is looking into using the Data Migration Utility to help automate making these changes.

 

By the way, if you happen to be in the Washington DC area on May 25, you can catch my talk on DR at the SMPTE Bits by the Bay Conference.

 

Conclusion

Utilizing system redundancy, locally and/or regionally, is the best way to ensure that media production systems keep running smoothly. Various DR configurations can be deployed to meet the needs of your business. There are free tools available to automate the backing up and restoring of data to local or remote systems.

Using these techniques will ensure that your big budget project won’t go bust if bad things happen. Knock on wood.




Red Arrow Industries Utilizes Avid Shared Storage for Animal Planet Special

Red Arrow Industries started as a two-man post house, and over the last nine years we’ve grown to nearly 40 employees. Unlike most production companies, here at Red Arrow we produce and edit everything from 10 second promos and two minute digital content to half-hour and hour-long series for networks such as HGTV, Travel Channel, History Channel and Animal Planet. Also, unlike most production companies, we were able to do nine years of work without shared storage.

Until recently, most projects fell into two categories:

  1. Short forms needing only one editor and could easily fit on local storage, or
  2. A network series where each episode was stand-alone (meaning footage from episode one wasn’t needed for any other episode).

Red Arrow Editor Mason Carden taking full advantage of Avid Shared Storage’s workflow for the upcoming Monster Week special

But this spring we sold a series that we knew would require shared storage— a reality show that would benefit from editors having access to all footage at all times. You just never know when you might need that footage shot during week one in the final episode, am I right?  So Red Arrow made the plunge and purchased our first Avid shared storage system: the Avid ISIS 5500 64TB.

At the same time we were gearing up for this new reality show, we were actually working on a one-hour special for Animal Planet’s Monster Week. We had two editors working on the show during the day. Each had roughly 6 TB of local storage. The majority of the footage was ProRes HQ and Canon C300 with some GoPro and Sony GH4 footage converted to DNxHD. They’d share bins back and forth during the day. At night our assistant editors (AEs) would copy any newly created media (renders, scratch VO, titles, etc.) back and forth to keep each clone identical – our rudimentary version of shared storage.

Rough Cut 2 timeline of Red Arrow’s Animal Planet Monster Week Special

The day we got network notes back from Animal Planet on rough cut one was the same day our ISIS 5500 was installed. Knowing we had a tight turn around for rough cut 2 (RC 2), I asked our AEs to copy the media from local storage to the Avid Shared Storage overnight so the editors could hit the ground running the next day.

Red Arrow Senior Editor Claudia Russell (@ClaudiaMRussell) working on 1-hour special for Animal Planet

Red Arrow’s IT room

The benefits of shared storage were immediate. While these two editors could simultaneously work on separate acts, our post producer could be in a third bay reviewing interview clips or updating the script. Music and graphics imported in one bay was immediately accessible to both editors. Our colorist could easily open an act and apply a quick grade to some troublesome footage. I could watch in-progress cuts in another bay without requiring the editor to stop down for the review.

In just a few short days we knocked out the notes and easily hit our deadline for RC 2. It was a great test for our shared storage, and we now have the confidence that it will shine during the creation of our upcoming series. I can’t believe it took us so long to finally dive into shared storage.

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Accelerate Production with Avid NEXIS—Next Gen Software-Defined Shared Storage

Technology in our industry continues evolving at a blinding pace, but for shared storage it’s about more than just size and speed. Manually copying media between separate storage silos and hurdles in sharing media throughout the processes slows creativity. It’s now all about intelligent workflow and connectivity. It can be difficult to figure out the best integrated storage system and solution for your organization or creative team. Let’s start with the obvious big challenges you’re facing:

 

  • The sheer volume of source material and content you need to manage is staggering, and it’s only going to keep growing
  • The pressure for fast turnaround times on projects is intense and a serial workflow is choking it
  • Too much time is wasted on non-creative tasks like copying/moving media
  • Your media isn’t protected at all times in case of failure, and failures happen
  • Team members need to connect and collaborate. Some even over long distances

 

At Avid, we believe the future is a fully virtualized collaborative system that connects people around an integrated shared storage platform. (Yes, we literally invented storage virtualization two decades ago with the Avid Unity MediaNetwork). Everyone told us that generic off-the-shelf storage options just don’t cut it for professionals and facilities, so we started working on an innovative new storage platform. And now, it’s here.

“NEXIS delivers unrivaled flexibility, scalability, control, and extensibility not only to the Avid MediaCentral Platform but also key workflow enabling third-party media applications like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X, so you can meet any production challenge.”

Avid NEXIS is the world’s first and only software-defined storage platform, enabling fully virtualized storage for all media environments. What does that translate to for you? The NEXIS intelligent software system does some incredibly powerful things like offer a real-time scalable set of definable/resizable workspaces and a solid protection scheme that can cover you for up to 5 drive failures.  Intelligent also means it is a media aware next-generation file system with pre-integrated hardware – which means it’s purpose built and tested to work as a cohesive system, (unlike generic storage and third party software). The bottom line is that NEXIS delivers unrivaled flexibility, scalability, control, and extensibility not only to the Avid MediaCentral™ Platform but also key workflow enabling third-party media applications like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X, so you can meet any production challenge. From the smallest production teams to the largest media enterprises, NEXIS is the only storage platform that has the flexibility to easily scale and grow with you at every stage of your business.

With NEXIS, we partnered with our customers to reimagine the possibilities of what shared storage could and should be for both media production and media professionals. The result truly is Next-generation (Intelligent and) Integrated Storage.

Now if you already own an Avid ISIS system, don’t worry—your system is not obsolete. You can add NEXIS storage right alongside your existing ISIS and seamlessly access both systems from the updated NEXIS client. Avid ISIS is fully supported and tested to work with the new NEXIS intelligent software system, so you can keep your Avid ISIS system and continue to expand its capabilities.

The NEXIS family is about providing media organizations and creative teams with massive benefits over generic storage and hodge-podge solutions. Compared to off-the-shelf storage, NEXIS is a more cost-effective, powerful, and flexible system that is designed and optimized specifically for the rigors of professional media production. Compared to Avid ISIS, NEXIS has some key advantages like the ability to mix and match engines (as we mentioned above – you can add a NEXIS to your existing ISIS | 5500 environment, for instance, where previously you could only expand by adding more of the same type of engine). NEXIS also has the advantage of offering these additional options over ISIS | 5500/7500:

 

  • Half Populated Engine Options
  • Common Spares
  • SSD Acceleration
  • Mirror plus Dual Disk media protection
  • Upgradeable Redundant Controllers for High Availability support

 

Because NEXIS is workflow-connected storage that’s purpose-built for the open Avid MediaCentral Platform, you can and will streamline and accelerate media production in any size broadcast, post-production, government, corporate, house of worship, live event, or media education environment. The hardware and software components are tuned for optimal performance of digital media delivery so that you have extremely predictable, reliable results.

Avid NEXIS will enable your creative team to collaborate in real-time, regardless of what type of media software you use. Thanks to the openness of Avid Everywhere, NEXIS works with all top media creation applications, including Media Composer, Pro Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro, Grass Valley EDIUS, and many more. All NEXIS systems are powered by the Avid NEXIS | FS file system, so you’ll experience the same consistent performance, reliability, and protection—regardless of the size of your network. It’s also the only scale-out storage solution lets you configure the system to give high priority projects more power. You can give critical projects maximum performance and throttling back on less critical workflows.

The NEXIS family includes several new storage engine options, so you can pick the system that’s the best fit for your organization.

  • Avid NEXIS | E4—Medium-density integrated storage engine
  • Avid NEXIS | E2—Small-footprint integrated storage engine
  • System Director Appliance—Increases Avid NEXIS scale and redundancy
  • Media Pack—Pack of 10 drives with 400MBytes/Sec of performance and 20 TB or 60 TB of storage
  • Redundant Controller—High-availability option for Avid NEXIS systems
  • Avid NEXIS | PRO—Professional-class integrated storage engine

The Avid NEXIS | PRO introduces an even more accessible price point and capabilities for professionals and small teams. Existing ISIS | 1000 customers can benefit from NEXIS | PRO capabilities with a software update.

The Avid NEXIS family will be available starting in Q2 2016.

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Invest in your future with the reliability you need today, the scalability for tomorrow, and the technology to take you beyond. Take your storage to the next level with Avid NEXIS.

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