Asset Management | So Many Files

Oct 1, 2011 10:00 AM, By Mel Lambert



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Technicolor's central hub allows for projects, dailies and other production elements to be viewed while sharing time-stamped comments and playlists.

Technicolor's central hub allows for projects, dailies and other production elements to be viewed while sharing time-stamped comments and playlists.

It’s a common scenario. It has been decided to move forward by 10 days the final sound-editorial sessions so that the composite dialog, effects and music tracks will be ready for the first day of predubs. So the supervising sound editor brings on a swing gang of eight more editors. Where are the Pro Tools and Logic Pro sessions on the in-house server; and which interconnected WAN holds the re-edited Foley elements from Vancouver, and the last-minute ADR tracks voiced yesterday in England? Wrangling such a large number of digital audio and video files needs a steady hand, and one more vital component: a well-implemented media asset–management strategy that allows everything to be tagged and labeled, and then stored where the editorial and mixing teams can quickly find them.

Chuck Parker, Technicolor’s chief commercial officer

Chuck Parker, Technicolor’s chief commercial officer

For post-production facilities—and the engineers, editors, mixers and creatives who provide them with component sound and picture elements—tracking media during a complex workflow poses major asset-management challenges. Not only must individual files be cataloged and indexed upon ingest, the companion metadata also needs to be integrated into an easily accessible database utility available at each connected workstation. The key, of course, is easily locating an asset, identifying its current status and delivering it to the DAW or mixing console for editing into a composite soundtrack. It then must be made available for offload as a deliverable asset to the client. And it had better be the right version!

Asset management covers all types of media and metadata files—from acquisition to post-production/mixing to archive. Key features of a well-designed media asset–management solution include overseeing all target resources, regardless of format or source, and offering enhanced collaboration across the media enterprise, including production and post. Such an integrated system has to recognize all forms of data-storage topologies—video and audio—and LAN/WAN network access, ideally, should be via conventional IP-based client tools, with easy-to-implement metadata searches and automated workflow throughput.

“We track assets as an extension of our work orders and master catalog numbers in our JD Edwards digital vault system,” says Kelli Clark, senior facility engineer at Fox Post Production Services. “We store BWAV-format files on our storage-area network servers and archive to LTO tape. Our main pain points are tracking the various versions of audio files generated during a film project, and making sure that they accurately reflect various picture changes, which may occur after the mix is completed. What versions have already been entered into the vault that need to be recalled and updated?

“Our new digital vault is under construction here in Los Angeles, with a disaster-recovery center in another to-be-determined remote location,” Clark continues. “When completed, the vault will offer well over a petabyte of storage, using Quantum’s StorNext file systems on high-speed, RAID-format arrays [connected to] Linux servers.”

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