What if …… my Post House went ‘off line’ one day?
With the scale of shared storage and number of concurrent editing clients increasing so dramatically over recent years, the amount of ‘work in progress’ and the value of the ‘in production’ assets in the post production facility can often run into millions of pounds. It represents a significant ‘concentration of risk’. Ever shortening and demanding delivery schedules has meant the risk to a major post production business from IT failures or environmental hazards such as fire or flood, or even human error, has become intensified to an almost un-insurable risk. For top post companies, simply backing up data or implementing a disaster recovery scheme has become too crude, too slow and too late, as it may take several days to restore work in progress. The advent of 4K workflows has made the problem even larger.
Integration is one of the most fundamental challenges when it comes to an upgrade or purchase of new equipment. These days, communications between systems have greatly improved, at least on a file level. However, there are often subtle differences which means moving media and metadata around is not always as seamless as it could or should be.
Any connection issue results in a compromised and inefficient workflow. The subtle picture is as important as the big picture. One piece of metadata not being transferred, might be mission-critical if the whole workflow is based on that information.
If the systems employed are not flexible enough, users end up working to the level of the limiting factor in any workflow. Thankfully, it is now rare that a product or solution is a ‘self-contained island’. Most let information be shared in and out and create a standard file so the transfer of media can be achieved between systems. However, the problems come when the workflow requires more than just a simple file exchange. Metadata integration is often an area where non-standard integration is a common issue.
While the thought of fire or flood strikes fear into the heart of those responsible for managing IT infrastructures, the fact is that simple equipment malfunction, like the failure of a disk drive, or even human error itself, are by far the most common causes of local outages. Having a robust major disaster recovery plan in place is of course an essential business process in today’s digitally driven world, however, it is also important to understand how data will be retrieved in the event of more mundane issues too.
The fact is that with tight production deadlines few post houses or broadcasters could afford to start a project from scratch if their primary edit storage were to go down. As a result, many organisations have a significant vulnerability when it comes to maintaining business continuity.
Although many manufacturers are improving their support for data interchange, a solution appears at best, a long way off. Broadcast facilities that want to be more productive need to ensure that their editing systems work together without fuss. Unfortunately that is easier said than done.
Editing software packages are all the same. No, I know that is not right, but in terms of doing 90% of what most editors need to do most of the time, they all offer similar functionality.
To some extent editing software is now a commodity and is interchangeable. Editors are usually efficient and comfortable using one product to complete a project and facilities are increasingly allowing staff to use their tools of choice. Yet, inevitable differences between edit platforms and challenges arise when different parts of the same workflow are managed by different staff with each wanting to use a different platform. Managing such ‘cross platform’ workflows is a challenge due to the many integration issues. Both editors and facilities want and need ‘anything to work with anything’. Yet, this is far from the reality today and therefore integration is one of the greatest barriers to improving productivity that facilities face.