PROGRESS.film has served as one of Europe’s largest theatrical distributors for many years, and consequently owns huge archives of historical films. PROGRESS was founded in East Berlin in 1950 to handle the release of films produced by DEFA, the state-controlled production unit of the GDR, and until the fall of the Wall in 1989, was the only film distributor in East Germany.
Today PROGRESS holds the entire DEFA film collection, representing the complete film heritage of East Germany as well as various collections from East and Western Europe, Vietnam, Ukraine, the US and other countries. The archive runs to more than 26,000 films.
In 2019, the company was acquired as PROGRESS Film GmbH by LOOKS.film, a production company specialising in historical documentaries. Original footage shot by LOOKS is also added to the archive, becoming a resource for film-makers of the future.
EditShare has a continuing relationship with PROGRESS and LOOKS. As well as supporting in-house production, a three tier EditShare storage network is closely integrated with AI functionality from Veritone to build a platform used to monetise the archive. Veritone is an AI tools and systems developer. It has a proprietary operating system, aiWARE, that oversees and orchestrates a number of machine learning models used to make audio, video and other types of data accessible to people as actionable intelligence.
LOOKS invested in EditShare as a platform to support its production activities, and PROGRESS also considered that the flexibility and security of EditShare’s storage network would serve well as the foundation of its archive projects.
An AI/ML Approach
The goal was to create workflows the team could use to bring large amounts of film online at multiple locations across Europe, and link it with detailed, comprehensive metadata in part generated by AI software. This metadata would form the basis of a highly automated commerce platform from Veritone. Using APIs to integrate the EditShare storage network with that platform, they have built a unified system and process. PROGRESS is able to give archive access to film-makers located anywhere, with a cost-effective license and delivery workflow.
“We acknowledge that our archive represents a unique library of historical and cultural significance,” said Gunnar Dedio, CEO at PROGRESS. “We wanted to make this available to as wide a group of users as possible. Film-makers have simple online access to search through our archive, select the footage they need, create a license and download their content.
“After extensive technical trials, we identified the two best players in the field, EditShare and Veritone. They worked together on the APIs which enabled us to create the effective, special-purpose system we have today.”
Online, Disk and Tape
Operating as the hub of this system is the three-tier storage network from EditShare. The top layer closest to users is an EFS server with a total of 120TB of storage. This gives fast, agile access for online users, including eight editing suites. Supporting that is another EditShare disk structure providing 320TB of nearline storage, making all content in current use readily accessible, and working as a buffer layer to move content in and out of archive.
The third tier is an EditShare ARK LTO8 tape library. Currently, this holds about a petabyte of storage but can continue to grow, and works as a secure backup for the PROGRESS as well as highly resilient long-term archiving. EditShare ARK Tape Libraries are available with LTO Drives in LTO 6, LTO 7 and LTO 8 formats, using either SAS or Fibre Channel connections, while the Ark Disk is based on continuously spinning hard disks with the advantage of high performance for backup, archiving and restoration tasks. EditShare FLOW asset management software, running on its own servers, manages all of these levels of storage and generates proxies as required.
“This archive project has major scope and significance for PROGRESS,” said Said Bacho, chief revenue officer at EditShare. “It is satisfying to know that it is based on standard building blocks from EditShare – server nodes, nearline storage and tape archives, brought together with FLOW software. It also demonstrates what can be achieved with systems based on open standards and simple APIs.” www.editshare.com