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Authentic Entertainment Chooses Cache-A's Prime-Cache Archive Appliance for File-based Workflows

Oxygen's 'The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck' Goes Completely File-based (September 17, 2009)
DMN Newswire--2009-9-17-- Cache-A Corporation, a leading supplier of small form factor archive appliances, has announced that Authentic Entertainment, one of the leading producers of original content for cable networks, has become the first customer to utilize the new Prime-Cache archive appliance in its facility in Burbank, CA.

Authentic Entertainment has produced a growing list of innovative and popular reality shows as well as documentary and special programming for networks like the Travel Channel, Bravo, TLC, Court TV, Food Network and Oxygen.  Its many current and upcoming projects include Ace of Cakes, Flipping Out, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Toddlers and Tiaras, Science of the Movies and The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck.

According to Will Pisnieski, Post Producer at Authentic, the company edits and finishes all of its shows in-house using Final Cut Pro as both its main source for writing and editing.  They have a total of 34 edit suites and six assistant editor suites as well as another 70 writer/producer iMac stations that are all connected to a 108 GB Facilis TerraBlock media storage network.  Pisnieski oversees all aspects of post-production for the company, everything from media server management and new equipment purchasing to recommending workflows for new shows.

"The key reason behind our move to Cache-As Prime-Cache was the need for us to have a reliable, high-capacity and cost-effective way to create source masters from memory card and disk-based cameras,"said Pisnieski.  "At the same time, the Prime-Cache gives us multi-editor access at every stage of production as well as safe and secure long-term archival storage."

Oxygens new show, The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck, for example, is completely file-based; its shot at a Dallas restaurant on Sony PMW-EX3 HD camcorders using dual SxS cards.  An onsite digital technician transfers all of the cards onto FireWire drives, which are then shipped back to the Burbank office where they are offloaded.  Next, the original MXF files are converted to a high-resolution QuickTime format, and the original MXF files are archived every night on LTO-4 tape using the Prime-Cache.  Each LTO-4 cartridge stores a single days worth of shooting in the field so it becomes very easy to figure out where the source content is should they need to rebuild something.

"The Prime-Cache is vital at the front end,"Pisnieski said.  "Before we even ingest into the Final Cut or convert to an editing format, we archive the original sources.  Also, if theres a point where a hi-res QuickTime file is misplaced or something becomes corrupted, we then can go back to the LTO tape and begin the recovery process.  And retrieving archived files from the Prime-Cache is very easy."

Feeding the Machine

The Naughty Kitchen has six editors, with two or three editors working on a single episode at any given time, and dedicated assistant editors that use three stations for all of the ingesting and compression.  However, those stations sit inside a machine room so if its a busy night and they have to bring into full resolution two or three different series at the same time, The Naughty Kitchen assistant editor can move out into a bullpen of edit bays where he can choose any one of the 34 different edit bays to begin the transfer of data to the Prime-Cache system for nightly archiving. 

"This show in particular is relentless,"Pisnieski said.  "I mean, there is so much footage to sort through, so much conversion going on, so much effort feeding the machine all day.  We have a huge advantage in having the Prime-Cache connected to our network as opposed to being directly connected to any one computer or station.  It makes for a very flexible workflow.

"Also, the interface is so easy to understand,"he added.  "I like that I can go back and retrieve and look at any tape that was ever made in the database.  It really is the ideal system, especially for the show were doing right now."

While the benefits of this all-digital file-based workflow are readily apparent now, Oxygen was originally skeptical toward the idea because they hadnt shot any projects in HD yet.

"We had to convince them, first of all, that the look of the show required smaller HD cameras because we were shooting in a restaurant -- its a very tight environment -- we wanted the camera operators to be concealed,"Pisnieski said.  "Once we convinced them that this is the camera we want to shoot with, we then had to convince them of the delivery format.

"The cost of doing a back up to Blu-ray of all the original MXF files and then shipping them off to Oxygen was financially not possible,"Pisnieski continued.  "One LTO tape that holds 800GB goes for $45, while a 50GB Blu-ray disc costs $50.  It doesnt add up, even if you had the budget, to go with Blu-ray when you get 16 times the storage at less cost.  Not to mention, of course, that the speed of writing to an LTO tape is so incredibly fast compared to writing to a Blu-ray disc -- and Blu-ray discs can fail.  LTO allows them to recover their data very easily if they ever wanted to rebuild the show for international distribution."

In an era of tightening cable programming budgets, it became readily apparent that the industry-standard LTO format was the right choice, and the Prime-Cache was the easiest, most flexible tool to begin LTO archiving.

Ideal Exchange Format

In addition, because the LTO data is written in standard "tar"format, companies do not need another Cache-A device to recover the content; the content on those cartridges can always be retrieved on any LTO-4 drive.  This also makes it the idea exchange format, which makes it appeal to networks and others that want to avoid investments in proprietary technology. 

"Some of the shows were pitching right now have to be turned around much faster than ever thought possible, with the ability to see dailies in the field,"Pisnieski said.  "Theyre also shooting in more remote locations, where a camera that records on videotape may become damaged because of temperature.  So the file-based format is going to be absolutely necessary for some of our upcoming programs in the years to come, and LTO tape will be the ideal long-term storage for us as well.  Looking at all of those factors, the Cache-A Prime-Cache is exactly what we need.  Its the perfect fit."

About Cache-A Corporation
Cache-A is a leading supplier of small form factor, network-attached archive appliances for the digital film, broadcast and professional video industries.  Cache-As archive appliances provide "source masters"in acquisition workflows when using the new memory card or disk-based cameras.  They also provide long-term archival storage with easy access at every stage of production.  All of the companys products come in easy-to-deploy, low-cost configurations based on industry-standard LTO tape drives.



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Related Keywords:cache-a, file-based workflows, Authentic Entertainment, The Naughty Kitchen, Prime-Cache, Ace of Cakes, Oxygen


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