ITFC uses Space to integrate with TMD MediaFlex system

screensWorking with major broadcast clients such as Channel Five and ITV has always meant IFTC were used to handling large volumes of content. If you also include the range of services they offer such as subtitling, digital asset management, audio description and restoration, you can see that their workflow and demand for storage is pretty intense. The impact of so much HD content has also made it important to be able to put in place a reliable and secure storage infrastructure that supports their business needs.

“Our challenge has always been to be one jump ahead of our storage requirements ensuring we have enough capacity to future proof our business. In the summer of 2011 we increased our Final Cut Pro capacity from 8 to 12 units and our need to access high bandwidth HD streams increased substantially. We therefore decided to evaluate a range of solutions to increase our storage capacity that reflected the demands of our Final Cut editing infrastructure.”

IFTC had some workflow issues with accessing content on fibre shared storage with the TMD MediaFlex asset management system and therefore it was crucial that any new storage solution worked within the framework of the existing IFTC infrastructure. The ability to allow MediaFlex access to the content and then to automatically move, deliver, purge and restore content with ease, was forefront on their wish list.

“One of the solutions we evaluated was GB Labs Space product range. To be honest we’d not had any previous experience with the company when GB Labs equipment reseller Encompass approached us. It was almost by accident that I took the call, thinking that it was the playout company of the same name with whom we have a mutual client relationship. Up to this point, we had been frustrated that some of the solutions we’d looked at didn’t really seem to be designed for the broadcast industry and it was more a case of ‘storage is storage.’ Therefore I was intrigued if a little sceptical about the capabilities and functionality of Space.

With that in mind we agreed to a test period to see how it would cope in a post production ProRes HQ 4:2:2 environment. “Following our decision to include Space in our evaluation process what really grabbed our attention was how quickly we were able to install the unit. Thirty minutes after we took delivery of our test Space we had it working with FCP. Additionally we were able to use our existing network cabling and we didn’t have to install any new software or client adaptor cards. An Ethernet based solution was essential for us to enable flexible working with multiple sources. Space came with 10Gb uplinks to the dedicated switch, to which we added bonded 1Gb links to the LAN.

This enabled us to test not only its storage capabilities to the limit, but the integration with MediaFlex. During our two week trial we achieved speeds of up to 4500 Mbps and the integration with our LAN was seamless. “We also felt that GB Labs really ‘got it’ with regard to our requirements and that they understood the post production environment. It’s also important that the relationship we have with our suppliers is on going rather than ‘transactional’.

Therefore it was good to know that Space came with a warranty with access to a 24 hour support should we require it. “A combination of cost, service level and functionality meant that, after extensive evaluation testing of the unit along with four other manufacturers’ products, we chose to invest in a Space solution.

To meet IFTC’s needs they purchased one Space central storage solution along with two Space Ex companion expansion units. This was combined with two additional RAID units to get as much capacity as possible. In total this gave them 100TB of usable and accessible disc space which more than exceeded our requirements.

“We’d originally had a target of 24 streams of ProRes (HQ) 4:2:2 at an average bit rate of 135 Mbps (target bitrate of 220Mbps) in mind, but with our current Space infrastructure we could easily be working with 36 concurrent streams of Pro Res (HQ) 4:2:2. This certainly answered our need to future proof our storage capacity. However should the time ever come to increase our capacity further the Space Ex solution allows us to add whatever additional storage we require without disrupting our current set up or taking down our operation for any install.

“For our editors, access to content is seamless and immediate. It really does come down to a click on the screen. This has meant that we’ve been able to harness the benefits of Space from day one without any cumbersome training or integration work. “When we started this process we were fully expecting to have to factor in new cabling, new client cards, network tweaks etc., but in reality Space came with none of these hurdles. And it would be fair to say that it was the only solution that ticked all the boxes. Coming at the price it did we were amazed that it exceeded the functionality of better-known solutions at a fraction of the cost.

“Adequate storage can be something that we take for granted. It’s fair to say that it might not be as exciting as some of our more creative tools, but it’s actually essential for content creation and a successful workflow. With the Space storage solution, itfc is now well equipped to continue leading the way in content preparation and media management services for many years to come.”

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