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The background

In April 2012, Cologne duo Mrs. Greenbird applied to take part in X Factor, a singing competition broadcast on German TV station VOX. And on 25 November that year, they were voted the winning act.

Over the course of the contest, countless hours of footage was captured of the twosome – much of which was to be made available as extra content on various TV channels and online platforms.

Cologne-based production specialist Magic Media Company (MMC) was tasked with viewing and editing these recordings – along with footage of around 24,000 other X Factor hopefuls.

Before the material began flooding in, the postproduction supervisor and his team began considering how to manage this process more efficiently and effectively. It quickly became clear that there was a need to extend their existing systems.


The challenge

MMC needed to be able to process video material at eight edit suites simultaneously, with each showing nine feeds in a multi-camera configuration. However, the existing hard disk capacity was insufficient for the task – and the network infrastructure was not capable of transmitting such large data volumes between the central storage system and individual workstations. The MMC team required eight edit suites for processing XDCAM HD 422 feeds in a nine-way multi-camera split-screen view, two Pro Tools systems for mixing, and four additional editing desks for data ingestion. This meant the planned solution would need to keep a minimum of 78 video streams up and running at any given moment. No mean feat – it would be like driving a Ferrari up and down the motorway at 300 km/h, 24 hours a day, six months at a time.

When planning the system, two factors were of key importance: the computing power needed to decode the XDCAM codec in real time, and the data throughput rates of the server and client interfaces.


The solution

The MoovIT team’s first task was to determine how many hard disks were necessary. The combination of the XStream Workflow Director and three EditShare XStream Expansion Chassis meant the central storage system would require 64 hard drives – that is, a total of 64 terabytes.

MoovIT upgraded the HP hardware (editing software: Avid Media Composer) to include a new 10-gigabit Ethernet interface, and connected it to the central storage system via fibre-optic cables. This made it possible to seamlessly stream nine video feeds simultaneously.

To maximise performance, the entire storage system was configured as a single logical unit (stripe set across all four chassis). In fact, the solution ultimately surpassed MMC’s initial requirements – supporting processing of up to 90 XDCAM HD 422 streams.


The implementation

As production was well underway, it was necessary to first mirror the data that had already been ingested (10TB) onto a second server. The MoovIT team then reconfigured the existing system before feeding the files back in. The entire process was completed in just one weekend – allowing the editors to continue to work undisrupted.

Moreover, MoovIT was tasked with expanding the system for post-production of the VOX ‘X Diaries’ series, using the 3HE version of EditShare Energy (16 hard disks). Plus, as the next series of another music talent contest – Deutschland sucht den Superstar (DSDS) – kicked off, the MMC team needed to sift through a further 32,000 videos. To facilitate this, MoovIT added twelve additional editing desks and an XStream Workflow Director with three Expansion Chassis – a total storage capacity of 64 TB.


The benefits

By editing video streams transmitted from the studio on up to 10 editing suites at the same time, using a nine-way multi-camera split-screen view, the MMC team could complete an entire 140-minute show in just six days after recording the first shots – a significant time saving.


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