Icon Fitness Gets a Workout on Facilis Shared Workflow Storage

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Icon Health and Fitness is one of the largest exercise equipment developers and suppliers in the US. Based in Logan, Utah, the company develops and markets treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles, weight machines and yoga and Pilates equipment, sold through its own recognised brands including NordicTrack, ProForm, Weider, Weslo, Gold’s Gym and FreeMotion fitness. 

Icon’s iFit virtual personal training platform, developed with Google, is video-based coaching that works with many of the company’s machines and uses video content to bring personal trainers and various fitness environments into customers’ houses. Icon also produces its own commercials and marketing material for its brands. Creating all of the required content means Icon Fitness needs full-time production and post teams.

Expandable High-Speed System

The Icon team initially purchased a 40TB Facilis system in 2012 when their former NAS system could no longer keep up with the demands of video media and the amount of data that needed to move over their 1Gb Ethernet connection. As Icon continued to grow, and as the products themselves started to incorporate video content, the company decided to purchase a system that could handle the team’s shared editing workflow, which supports up to 10 editors working simultaneously from individual workstations.

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They looked at other vendors at first, since they would now need an expandable, high-speed system with straightforward administration and connectivity options, but decided to continue with Facilis. Because video is the working part of the iFit products in particular, Icon purchased a new TerraBlock 24EX specifically for this brand last year, incorporating two TX16 expansion chassis for a total of 320TB. Most recently, the marketing department purchased a new 192TB 24EX system. All workstations are now connected via 8Gb Fibre Channel to the central storage network to achieve the required performance.

Ryan Humpherys is head of post-production for the Icon Fitness marketing department. He and his team handle all the marketing and social media campaigns at a studio a short distance from the Icon Fitness headquarters. The camera crew either shoots at the in-house studio or on location, at times travelling overseas to film trainers coaching from many different locations and environments.

Editing, Grading and Finishing Workflows

All post processing is done at the Utah facility. Initially, the editing workstations were Apple Mac Pro, but the team has since switched to robust 48-core Lenovo PC workstations with dual graphics cards to support the full Adobe CC suite. Ryan does colour work in DaVinci Resolve, which performs well with both their hardware and the Facilis system. The team also needs to synchronise the machines with the video - Ryan said, “When the video coach tells the athlete that he or she is going to increase the incline or change the speed, we program the equipment to respond precisely in time with the video, which makes the workout experience very immersive.”

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The crew shoots very high-resolution imagery because in post the team needs flexibility in terms of colour, finishing and framing, without compromising the image quality. “We frequently shoot on ARRI Alexa Mini at 4K or on RED cameras at 5 or 6K. We are able to edit the footage natively, without transcoding or making proxies on the Facilis system, which saves time,” Ryan said.

“With 8Gb Fibre Channel connections to each workstation, we get about 500MB/sec on each workstation, so that it’s like having an internal SSD. When we’re pushing around 4 or 6K content, we can edit, move through the timeline and copy files across the system. We have multiple editors working at the same time and have yet to run into a bottleneck.”

As the iFit brand continues to grow, the organisation has built another studio at Icon headquarters.  Eventually the plan is to continue building out the main HQ facility and at that point, the two Facilis storage systems will be combined.

“We anticipate that the flexible nature of the Facilis shared file system will make it fairly easy to combine the servers,” said Ryan. Already, his team can create volumes, groups and manage permissions on their own, even though Icon Fitness has IT professionals on staff. “The new Facilis Web Console has made it simple to mount volumes over the high-speed connection with no IT assistance required.”   facilis.com