Discovery Goes Green with Avid Workflows
To maintain its leadership position in the television industry, Discovery Channel needed the ability to generate a rapidly-escalating volume of high-quality content, necessitating a shift from tape-based to file-based workflows. Avid Interplay and Unity ISIS not only enabled the channel to achieve that goal, but go green in terms of saving both money and the environment in the process.
Now, based on those two solutions, the asset management infrastructure at Discovery affects virtually every aspect of the production process, making its workflow truly organic in more ways than one.
“First off, everyone in the media industry knows that tape is extremely bad ecologically,” comments Clayton Dutton, Vice President of Post Production and Media Operations for Discovery Communications LLC., “so cutting down on physical tape assets allows us to reduce our ecological impact..”
Making the Most of Their Media
But going green also means growing financially. Operating in over 100 networks across the globe, Discovery knows a great deal of their success rests on making the most of their media by keeping costs down while maximizing accessibility, openness and quality.
As Clayton explains, “it's critical for us to know what media we have, what we can deal with and what we can deploy across the world. Because in today’s content anywhereworld, media comes in so many different file types and flavors. SD, HD, and soon, 3D. Hi-res. Low-res. 23.98. 24P. 30P. It’s nearly endless.”
Prior to the deployment of ISIS several years back, LVD SCSI drives were used at Discovery, which meant that if a suite went down or anyone needed to share media, drives would have to be physically removed and plugged into another suite. Now, almost everything is connected to Interplay, up to and including the audio suites via Video Satellite, and Interplay is currently capable of tracking over 2 million files.
The Time Had Come
When Discovery edit suites were cutting between 10 and 15 items going to air within a same-day period several years ago, it was decided that the time had come to employ an asset management system capable of not only serving its performance needs, but doing so in a configuration as robust and stable as possible.
According to Clayton, it was all about the media, “what we could see and what could we tell other people about it.”
So, the purchase decision rested on three primary capabilities: metadata management, stability, and enterprise level support. After conducting extensive research and looking at other potential solutions, Avid came up the clear frontrunner. Now, Discovery enjoys a 99.6 uptime percentage with 33 HD suites running three shifts a day, all accessing DNX 145 media, sometimes simultaneously.
“We push our system hard,” Clayton asserts, “and it responds beautifully.”
Not only does Interplay allow Discovery to gain a valuable window into what they are doing and where things are, but start asking game-changing questions like, “Is this the best way to do it?”
The advent of Interplay has brought about changes in management thinking at Discovery. The feeling now is that just because something has always been done a certain way doesn't necessarily mean it should continue that way.
From a Dollars and Cents Perspective
It’s an approach that has allowed the network to adjust its processes and leverage those adjustments to directly impact bottom line dollars and cents.
Producing the show Life, for example, Discovery actually had five edit sessions going simultaneously, cutting various promos, doing re-versioning on programming, and creating ad sales clip reels. In the days prior to Interplay and Unity ISIS, that amount of work would have taken two or three times as long.
“Putting a hard number next to all that extra time,” claims Clayton, “has enabled us to really see it from a dollars and sense perspective.”
Going forward, Discovery plans on employing Avid asset management solutions to serve as the cornerstone of a multi-platform distribution strategy, encompassing web, mobile, VOD and 3D. With Interplay, editors will be able to migrate originating program content in the editing suite where it is being worked on, and actually prepare it for just about any platform.
Interplay provides us all with an environment capable of fostering unprecedented levels of collaboration.
“It is this perspective that encourages everyone to basically do more,” comments award-winning Discovery editor, Reggie Allen. “Interplay provides us all with an environment capable of fostering unprecedented levels of collaboration. I work with five amazingly talented editors,” he says, “that have a completely different aesthetic headset than I do. No one's better or worse than anyone else, but they come from a completely different place when they're in the edit.”
And that makes for new types of relationships, new levels of respect. Like I might I get a little message coming up in Interplay saying “check this out”. Instead of having to go all the way across the facility to see it, I just pull it up and send a little note back saying “what you did was really cool.”
The thing is, we live in a drag and drop world right now. So when you have all these tools, it makes for far more evolved peer-to-peer relationships.”
Going Green Grows Success
Once upon a time, Discovery inhabited a relatively walled world. Discovery was once in one place, Animal Planet in another, and TLC in another. Now, the network is evolving into a tightly interconnected community where each individual has a window into what others are doing, making everyone’s contribution stronger. So, as the Discovery Channel goes green, it is certainly not with envy, because their success today is second to none, both financially and ecologically.
“We’re extremely focused on opportunities to keep growing smarter, more efficient, and forward-thinking as a company,” says Clayton.
“It’s what makes it all worthwhile,” claims Tory Capezza, Discovery Channel’s Media Asset Manager, “I just keep looking forward to what's coming next, what more we are going to be able to do and how are we going to be able to do it better, quicker, easier. It’s what I really enjoy most.”
Move from tape-based to file-based tapeless workflow and go green in the process, both environmentally and economically.
Create an asset management infrastructure at Discovery based on Avid Interplay and Unity ISIS that enhances every aspect of the production process and enables the enterprise to adjust its business operations to directly impact the bottom line.