Grading suite at Directors Cut
Directors Cut Films post house in central London specialises in long-form content and has earned a strong reputation in documentaries and entertainment. The studio currently operates 34 offline Avid suites, five online editing rooms running Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve as well as Avid Media Composer, three audio suites and a large grading theatre with FilmLight’s Baselight 2 installed.
As Dolby Vison and Dolby Atmos began to increase demands on Directors Cut’s storage network, the team recently started looking for a new system to replace their proprietary storage. It was important to them to not only have the capacity and bandwidth to support all of their rooms, but also to be able move projects from stage to stage, and from software package to software package, without disrupting the flow of work.
They selected an EFS system from EditShare, who supplied a large-scale storage network. The new installation transfers projects directly between all the operational rooms. “EditShare showed us the ideas behind Universal Projects,” said Mark Manning, managing director of Directors Cut. “They demonstrated that they could move not just the material but also the other aspects involved in post, including bin structures, from room to room, machine to machine, including in and out of Avid, something the other 3rd party vendors cannot easily do.”
Universal Projects is mainly about letting each editor use the NLE of their choice – Media Composer, Resolve or Premiere Pro – without restricting collaboration across the team. It is based on data, not software. Instead of working from inside an NLE, editors use EditShare’s production asset management platform FLOW to organise media using FLOW’s web interface.
With drag and drop tools, media is moved into virtual folders (or bins for Avid users) inside a Universal Project. Users can mark up footage, select subclips or build a shot list as a sequence. Each editor has link buttons in FLOW, used to export the FLOW data to the NLE.
EditShare Universal Projects
The jobs run in parallel, serving to sync projects very quickly. All users connected to the EditShare storage will see the folders or bins immediately, and see the footage and mark-ups inside that were created centrally, to complete the round trip. From that point, editors can sync their changes up to the Universal Project as often as needed to keep it up to date for all users.
Capacity, Resilience and Traffic
The Directors Cut storage system itself holds more than a petabyte of usable storage. It consists of five nodes each of 256 terabytes, configured for a high level of resilience by eliminating single points of failure. The resilience built in also includes duplicated EFS metadata controllers and high speed, fibre ethernet switches.
The metadata controllers oversee and control all movement and connections to large-scale deployments of multiple EFS nodes. The metadata controller maintains high availability to an EFS Workgroup and serves as the traffic manager, controlling and distributing data across the EFS parallel file system on all nodes to make sure that no single point of failure occurs. As in the Directors Cut system, a second metadata controller can be added to the primary one to set up full redundancy.
A sixth EditShare node is also included, in a high security environment, for external communications to and from the network. This node gives access for receipt of content from locations, for remote log-ins, and for delivery.
Universal Projects aside, FLOW is a central part of the workflow structure. The application is visible to clients, who use it to prepare material, monitor progress and review and approve cuts. FLOW supports open interconnectivity, allowing clients to tag and prepare content using standard tools they are accustomed to, like Excel, with FLOW managing those inputs and using them to assemble the right content in the right format for each editor.
Premiere Pro edit and trim
“The EditShare functionality was precisely what we needed,” said Mark. “It gives us secure storage, the convenience of client-accessible asset management, and has simplified workflows across all of our rooms using Universal Projects. We would probably be considered a developer customer for Universal Projects – we have certainly contributed a lot of thought and direction during its development, and have found its functionality to be ahead of anything else we have come across.”
Said Bacho, CRO at EditShare said, “We are pleased with the success of the installation at Directors Cut, because it achieves everyone’s goals. The creative team at Directors Cut is remarkably talented, and we have given them a central architecture that automates all the tedious tasks related to post, so they can just focus on the story.”
Directors Cut has acquired the complete system on a five year subscription that includes the necessary hardware from HPE, warranties covering the whole period, as well as all software updates. Said commented, “Our experience is that some post houses still like to purchase storage on a CAPEX model. Others – like Directors Cut – can see the financial advantages that a long-term deal brings.” www.editshare.com