RS MPS spycernode clipster

Motion Picture Solutions (MPS) international film services facility handles mastering, distribution and expertise in Digital Cinema Package (DCP) creation. The company’s customers include Hollywood studios, but its services reach much wider, encompassing many independent movies as well. In an average month, MPS will work on at least three major features. For a global release, it can create DCPs for up to 35 different territories.

MPS handles all of this work on eight Rohde & Schwarz CLIPSTER mastering workstations, making the facility a major user of the  CLIPSTER platform. To support their workstations, the company has recently invested in the new media storage system, R&S SpycerNode. Their two 5U84 SpycerNode systems are configured in a synchronous cluster spread over two locations.

One part of the cluster is in MPS’ Mission Hall site in Olympia, London, and the other in a data centre 11km away. They are connected by two diverse dark fibres running 100 gigabit ethernet over CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) optical multiplexing. The ingested data is immediately copied to another location, creating an instant backup.

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CWCM combines multiple signals at various wavelengths for simultaneous transmission over fibre cables. It is also an economical method of making the most of existing fibre by decreasing the channel spacing between wavelengths.

SpycerNode integrates IBM’s Spectrum Scale, formerly known as General Purpose File Systems (GPFS), which Head of Technology Eric D’Souza considers is critical to SpycerNode‘s performance. “Spectrum Scale upgrades the previous SAN file systems and uses 100gigabit ethernet as the interconnection,” he said.

“In contrast to the earlier layer 2 fibre channel, 100 gigabit ethernet makes Spectrum Scale faster and more affordable, and allows redundant layer 3 network topologies to be extended over metropolitan distances. Layer 3 is able to implement functions like encryption or RAID redundancy, and multiport connections. Networking and storage now share a common topology.”

SpycerNode’s synchronous replication means that the data exists in two geographical locations for disaster recovery. Snapshots make it possible to recover files that have been accidentally deleted or changed.

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The SpycerNode system’s ability to deliver fast storage for the CLIPSTERs at MPS is the most important factor. MPS versions the DCPs based on markets. For a big release, they might have 120 shots that need localisation and graphics work. This could include road signs that might be in a particular language that need to change according to the territory. On one project, a film had a shot of a mobile phone that had a crucial text message on it, which had to be cut out and resupplied in 32 different languages.

Eric said, “Any sort of editorial trimming that MPS need they can do within CLIPSTER. On a typical project, film masters will be in DCDM format (Digital Cinema Distribution Master) or DCP. They come in via Aspera to our Data I/O department where they are ingested on to SpycerNode. From here any clips that need localisation or modification are exported using Clipster. MPS teams work on the shots with a combination of tools including Adobe After Effects, Cinema 4D and Nuke, before dropping them back into the timeline on the Clipster ahead of mastering to DCP and distribution.”

MPS has to be able to service clients looking for the most up to date techniques as well as all of the traditional deliveries. They see particular advantages in fulfilling versioning within the IMF package, particularly with respect to demand for VOD. To output another VOD version in the pipeline is fairly straightforward, so the fact that the Clipsters are all IMF-capable was one of the reasons for buying so many of them.

RS SpycerNode

The colour processing engine is another key capability for Clipster. MPS hasto service the HDR market, and CLIPSTER allows them to work with Dolby Vision HDR for cinema as well as equipping them to carry out HDR for VOD.

These workflows require up to date storage facilities. “Clipster is the hub of mastering DCPs at MPS, so it was essential that the new storage architecture would directly support Clipster. SpycerNode creates a single large, fast namespace for all systems working on a project,” said Eric. “Data does not need to be moved during the workflow, which makes our teams more efficient throughout the operations here.”