Media acquisition and Archive Workflow


Ryan Jenkins TV-Bay Magazine
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by Ryan Jenkins
Issue 109 - January 2016
Hello, I am Ryan Jenkins, a third year student at the University of Portsmouth and as part of my final year on the BSc Television and Broadcasting course, I am the Post Production manager for all television teams making live programmes, something we specialise in. My role has thus far seen me design a workflow that involves archiving footage from our made VTs, and then storing them for future use for cutaways and other archival reasons. Here is a little of something that I have learnt in my attempt to create a fully operable archive system - I hope it will improve how we work.

I found out quite quickly when creating a new archive workflow that there are many different issues to consider; delivery of material to the archive, how much of the project needs archiving and what you are going to use as the main storage device.

Those of you involved with archiving will know all too well that the issue of how to get material to the archive can be as simple as using a portable hard drive, but this is only ideal for small projects as they can take a while to read/write. Another thing to look at could be a portable solid state drive, faster than an HDD but more expensive for the same storage space. However I discovered that all of these solutions have one major issue - they have to be transported from one place to another. Depending on where you decide to have your archive it could be as close as the next room, but if you were a large company with many post houses and an archive center travelling from one to another can be a costly task. With the use of a drop box system networked from all post houses to the archive center it can be a quick and easy process.

The next issue is what to store, and I have asked myself if there is any need to archive all of the rushes for a project or could the final export be fine. Each project will be different in this respect, clients may ask for different things.

Whilst at the point of archive it may seem better to archive everything to do with a project, especially when starting an archive and seeing all of the storage space. One thing students tend to forget is that storage space will fill up quickly, and the more storage space needed, the more money is required in order to acquire more.

Having a system in place that is easy to identify is what is required and ensuring you only archive the necessities saves money and time during the archiving and retrieval process.

I found that it doesnt stop there! Another decision that needs to be made is what kit and methods are you going to invest in? HDDs have a fairly high failure rate which increases rapidly once they reach the four year mark. Now this does not sound like the best way in which to securely store media for future use. I figured it was best to use an LTO system, LTO6 tapes have 2.5TB worth of storage, where a HDD would cost in the region of £50 for 6TB an LTO6 tape would only cost £25. Although if you were to compress the data on the LTO6 tape you can push for 6.25TB. A great saving to be had, however there are additional peripherals needed, LTO tapes can not be put straight into the computer like a HDD. This opened my eyes to the possibility of using an LTO tapes in the archiving process, especially within the university environment having constantly created work being stored on HDDs that are expensive and fail quicker. I learnt that it is definitely worth storing this media on an LTO tape from the perspective of a student solely on the price of storage.

Storage of tapes in an archive need to be easily accessible for future use, otherwise what is the point in having the media if you can not find it when it's needed? Through the use of some LTO software, features are accessible that allow you to see what tapes have been used and the metadata. However having your tapes stored elsewhere in order of use can be just as helpful . Creating a physical library of previously used tapes can aid in the retrieval of the media.

When exporting for archive, making sure the format retains the most information is essential for future proofing of your projects. Exporting final sequences at the highest quality, for example 4K, even though the broadcast version may only be 1080i (or even less!). This will ensure that if the project or footage is to be broadcast at 4K it can be encoded to suit the new broadcast format without the loss of quality. This can also be helpful if the broadcasters equipment is changed thus requiring a different encode, to prevent loss of quality a high master encode can be exported initially. So for example within the CCI studios archive I have been exporting to Avid codec DNxHD codec. This allows for the retaining of quality for future encodes and the codec is freely available as a download from the Avid website.

Over the past few months acting as the post production archive manager I have cemented my aims of working within post production, I used to have a belief that I would hopefully end up as an offline editor, however this has created a whole new world that I could get into. I have enjoyed creating and understanding the best way to approach archiving that can be used in the future, and Ive learned that I can manage my time to enable me to create this asset. As for looking after media, I am no longer thinking about just where I am going to store the media, but also consider methods of retrieval as well. This has determined how I have set-up all of my folder structures behind all of the file systems that I use, not just the archive system set up. It has also reconfirmed my skills within Avid Media Composer and Unity ISIS to help me use it effectively and efficiently. This has been a very trying few months, and there have been moments that I seemed to get smothered with information, however once breaking down all of the stages of the project I found it less overwhelming and a better approach to the project at hand.

Furthering my research into this project I will be looking at media asset management systems as well as different ways in which digital asset management can be utilised within the project. I want to keep improving my knowledge as well as the improvement on the archive workflow itself. I hope you have enjoyed reading this, it has been a pleasure to inform you of what I have been doing as well as what I hope to do in the future.


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Contributing Author Ryan Jenkins

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