World’s First Avid ISIS 5000 Customer

Media Composer editing suite

Today’s post production industry faces many substantial challenges—from budget cuts to managing an ever-increasing amount of footage generated by a wide array of cameras. Post production houses need storage and editing solutions that not only provide the flexibility and adaptability necessary to increase the volume of work, but minimize the amount of time doing it.

Media storage has become a key player in helping to meet that challenge, emerging from the back room to take an increasingly prominent position in maximizing ROI.

Keeping balance sheets on an even keel by attracting new customers and ensuring current customers keep coming back is now tantamount to the success of companies like U.K.-based Films@59. That’s why the post production house not only signed up earlier this year to become a beta test site vendor for the new affordable Avid ISIS 5000 advanced storage system, but went on to become one of its early customers.

New Storage Solution Put to the Test

Winner of the Best Children’s Series trophy at the 2010 British Animation Awards for Shaun the Sheep: Ewe've Been Framed, an Aardman production, Films@59 was hesitant at first to move its core series and long-form programming to the new solution.

But Ian Burling, head of technical services at Films@59, elected to move ahead readily, starting with shorter jobs for which they had been using a non-Avid solution—Final Cut Pro—to test the technology itself, as well as one of its primary benefits—interoperability.

Passing with flying colors, ISIS 5000 brought Media Composer and Final Cut Pro together with unprecedented ease, demonstrating its ability to serve as a single source of storage for any customer, no matter what editing systems they’re using.  

“This is very good for us,” Burling enthuses. “Flexibility has always been our number one priority as a post house. So, the ability of ISIS 5000 to provide platform-agnostic storage has allowed us to move media with much greater agility and ease. Whether clients decide to edit with Media Composer or Final Cut, it has extended the ability of all our contributors to move media around a variety of systems.”

Doing Key Things Very Well

Films@59 main post facility in Bristol

Since Films@59 had been a longtime user of Avid MediaNet storage systems, it was familiar with the core functionality of the new ISIS system. But only when the facility started using it did anyone realize how great an impact it would have on maximizing workflow efficiency by enabling both Avid and non-Avid systems to function to their full potential.

“This new ISIS dramatically increased our productivity by doing a lot of key things very well—like opening up bandwidth and allowing us to open and save projects faster,” Burling explains. “So, long-standing complaints from Final Cut Pro editors working on standalone systems went away virtually overnight. In fact, I spoke to an editor this morning about a particular project on the system, and he didn’t even realize he was using ISIS 5000 storage. It had simply been working there in the background, requiring so little attention that he’d essentially forgotten about it.”

It’s That Easy

For post production houses of any size, that kind of reliability and ease of use is a key concern. Films@59 found that the ISIS 5000 not only worked seamlessly, but was just as easy to set-up and integrate into its existing infrastructure.

Burling actually set the system up himself in just five minutes, and has received no subsequent calls for assistance or other inquiries related to its installation. Since ISIS 5000 ships with a single user-friendly administration tool, administrative functions such as creating workspaces and adding, deleting, and setting permissions were accomplished quickly and efficiently, with no more than five minutes training for the editorial assistant staff.

Based on his experience thus far, Burling shares his thoughts: “I believe ISIS 5000 is going to occupy a very important place in the post production market. It’s targeted at facilities that do not have a large IT staff, but still need a high-bandwidth, user-friendly, ultra-reliable storage requiring minimal space and power consumption. Also, since it uses Optical Ethernet, clients can be attached at a fairly significant distance from the chassis.”

New Generation of Storage Solutions

Films@59 is currently comprised of 40 cutting rooms based around both Avid and Final Cut Pro products, operating with shared server storage. Its online facility consists of three dedicated digital grading suites (two Digital Vision Film Masters and a FilmLight Baselight system), as well as a range of finishing suites. It also uses Avid DS Nitris and Symphony Nitris DX systems, while up to 42 offline suites employ numerous local or shared storage systems.

From Burling’s perspective, the ISIS 5000 presages a new generation of storage featuring the high degree of flexibility, interoperability, and scalability necessary to grow with an organization as it matures. Workspaces, for example, can be dynamically increased or decreased on the fly. This is an important feature of every Avid shared storage platform, allowing spaces for any given project to be reconfigured without disturbing editors or administrators.

Central storage room with ISIS 5000

It’s a feature that came in particularly handy during Films@59’s recent production of a new HD program called Tribal Fishing, comprised of approximately 40 hours of ingested media coming in throughout the post production process. The flexibility to increase storage space in this manner enabled the company to handle such volume without difficulty.

Again, taking a calculated risk, the company put the project on the ISIS 5000. And again, it proved to be a good test of the system, since the editing work was being done on Final Cut Pro. “The ability to support multiple systems takes shared storage to the next level,” Burling says. “We might have assumed that a Media Composer or Symphony was going to work on the system because they always do. But throwing a Final Cut Pro at it was another thing altogether. Much to our satisfaction, we found that whatever media we had could be captured in a workspace, even when Media Composer and Final Cut Pro were both using it.”

The Storage Trifecta: Open, Easy, Affordable

“If that weren’t enough,” Burling concludes, referring to ISIS 5000, “it’s come in at a much lower price point.” For Films@59, that’s the trifecta of storage asset management—open, easy, affordable. “The only way it could really be made better,” he quips, “is to ship it already built into the rack.”