Advanced Workflow Solutions Enable Cost-Saving Automation and Efficiency for VC Medios
By Tonny Marquez, Engineering Vice President, VC Medios
Headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela, VC Medios manages technical operations for Latin American cable networks including A&E, History, Lifetime, H2, E! and IVC Net. Building on the tangible benefits realized by the company’s first deployment of Masstech solutions to automate the movement of file-based media between systems, workflows and facilities, VC Medios added two more MassStore systems in 2015 to support the company’s growth and geographic expansion.
VC Medios first turned to Masstech in 2008. Planning the move of their playout operations from Caracas to the HBO Latin America facility in Sunrise, Florida, VC Medios Engineering Vice President Tonny Marquez recognized the need for the company to transition its tape-based operations to tapeless, file-based workflows. “It was clear that file-based, digital delivery would be the most efficient and cost-effective way to transfer content between the two countries,” said Marquez.
Marquez set out to find a solution that would efficiently manage and automate the movement of file-based content not only between locations, but also internally between VC Medios’ archive, post production and playout processes. After learning of MassStore while researching solutions at the NAB Show and evaluating it against alternative systems, a recommendation for Masstech by VC Medios’ new playout partner solidified Marquez’s decision. “The reference was very positive, and choosing the same solution also helped ensure seamless media and metadata compatibility between the sites,” he explained.
VC Medios deployed a MassStore system with an IBM TS3500 tape library in Caracas. The system manages the movement of content between their archives and post production workflows, transforms the resulting media and metadata into the required distribution formats, and then transfers the content to a similarly-equipped MassStore system in Sunrise. Automated workflows driven by the Sunrise-based MassStore system move the received content to Grass Valley servers for playout.
More than 40,000 hours of content encompassing 1.2 petabytes of storage are currently saved in the Caracas-based archive, with an average of 500 hours being added each month.
Expanding on Success
Following their successful experience with this first system, VC Medios installed two additional MassStore systems in 2015 to address their expanding needs. Purchased from Venezuelan systems integrator Avcom, one of the new systems was deployed with an IBM TS4500 library at VC Medios’ newly-opened production center in Bogota, Colombia. The second new system, paired with a Spectra Logic tape library, was added in their Caracas headquarters to support operations for IVC Net, a new Venezuelan entertainment and sports channel distributed both locally and in the U.S.
VC Medios’ MassStore systems now support end-to-end workflows spanning all of their locations. Post production activities are split between the Caracas and Bogota sites. Programming from VC Medios’ content partners is delivered to the Caracas facility using Aspera accelerated file transfer technology. MassStore transforms received content – as well as material retrieved from the LTO tape archive – into VC Medios’ preferred XDCAM production format. MassStore then moves the content into the first post production and QC workflow at the designated site, for localization such as dubbing.
Once that work is complete, MassStore moves the resulting content to a second post production workflow, where it is prepared for multi-platform distribution including cable playout, Video-on-Demand (VOD) and TV Everywhere delivery across multiple viewing devices. Masstech workflows transfer the playout-ready files to Sunrise, where the local Masstech system moves them onto the playout servers and notifies the automation system.
Seamless Integration Drives Workflow Efficiency
MassStore’s extensive array of native, API-level, third-party integrations allow media and metadata to flow seamlessly between VC Medios’ diverse operational systems, maximizing workflow efficiency. In addition to the aforementioned archive libraries and playout servers, the MassStore systems interface directly with VC Medios’ Avid Media Composer and Grass Valley Edius editing systems; Dalet asset management and GV Stratus production management systems; and Imagine Communications ADC-100 automation.
The combination of these comprehensive integrations and MassStore’s future-proof flexibility is extremely valuable as VC Medios’ needs continue to evolve. “With MassStore, customized workflows can be created that enable us to easily integrate new systems and devices as we bring them into our environment. That open flexibility is important to us,” Marquez noted. VC Medios will be taking full advantage of these benefits as they add an Avid Interplay system in the coming weeks, using MassStore’s highly-regarded Avid Interplay Web Services integration to enable maximum efficiency and tight interoperability between the two products.
MassStore’s high-quality, built-in transcoding has also proven valuable. VC Medios uses a broad variety of compression and file formats, including GXF-wrapped MPEG-2 and DV25 for HD and SD playout, and XDCAM-HD in MXF for production. MassStore automatically and transparently transforms the media into the needed formats as it moves between systems and workflow steps. Marquez also cites MassStore’s ability to perform Partial Restores of archived media as advantageous, maximizing efficiency by retrieving and transferring only required sub-clips to their Avid Media Composer environment.
Substantial Cost Savings
Beyond the operational advantages, the Masstech solution has also delivered tangible, quantifiable business benefits. The fully file-based processing and distribution enabled by MassStore allowed VC Medios to eliminate Digital Betacam tapes from their workflows, saving the company an estimated $300,000 USD per year in tape costs, shipping, equipment maintenance and physical space.
Masstech’s support services also earned compliments from Marquez. “Their technical support and post-sales service are key references when I talk about Masstech,” he said. “Whatever technical or workflow challenges we have encountered, their team has gone to great lengths to always find a solution.”
“MassStore forms the backbone of our file-based operations and digital delivery workflows,” Marquez concluded. “As Masstech adds new capabilities to their solutions, we will continue to explore how we can further incorporate them to support our company’s growth.”