11.29.2010 03:50 PM
Front Porch Manages RodeoHouston Content
RodeoHouston’s Control Room One

Houston — The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been a vibrant force in the Southwest and the Houston community for nearly 80 years. Every year more than 24,000 volunteers contribute their time, resources, and talent to the world’s largest livestock exhibition, the world’s richest regular-season PRCA rodeo, and the Southwest’s premier entertainment event. This 20-day extravaganza takes place every March at Houston’s Reliant Park.

Since 1980, the show has produced its own television programming both for broadcast and for historical record. We have amassed tens of thousands of hours of content stored on videotape in multiple formats, ranging from rodeo competition to associated performances by musicians, and auctions of everything from champion steers to chardonnay.

We began to transition to a tapeless workflow as part of our HD upgrade two years ago. A key component in that effort has been Front Porch Digital’s DivAworks, a plug-and-play content storage and protection system that incorporates a datatape library, LTO -4 datatape drives, DivAgrid integrated nearline disk, and a server running the DivArchive content storage management software for managing files. HD content from 20 Sony cameras located throughout the rodeo venue is ingested to a server and then managed and stored digitally, or transferred to DivAgrid integrated nearline disk and/or LTO -4 storage. DivAworks also manages restoration of content from archive to server as needed.

In addition, Front Porch Digital’s DivAdirector affords our editors and producers easy access to stored content. Clips can be searched by customized metadata—including sponsor, event, and competitor—or may be browsed frame-by-frame by using the application’s built-in Windows Media Player. A recent upgrade to Version 4.0 of DivAdirector now gives us the ability to locate externalized LTO tapes instantly, and the thumbnail snapshots that accompany every new clip entering the system.

With the digital workflow in place, we’re gradually working to digitize our enormous, unique, and irreplaceable video archive. Older videotapes are currently located in a warehouse, requiring editors to drive across the Reliant Park complex, remove the tapes from shelves, and play them back. However, once the clips have been incorporated into the DivAworks system, access will be a mouse click away. The project has already begun to pay off, as we recently were able to use DivAdirector to access some old content that had already been digitized, saving the editor’s time and effort.

NO NEED TO GO ANYWHERE ELSE

When we first began evaluating media storage technologies, we looked at disk-based systems such as a NAS or SAN, but quickly realized that the combination DivAworks/DivAdirector solution would provide key advantages in flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

What really got our attention was the flexibility of the database to customize metadata for searches and user interface friendliness. As we continue to transition to a completely tapeless environment, DivAworks and DivAdirector will play a critical role in our ability to store the digital content, keep track of its location, and retrieve the content when we need it.

James Davidson is managing director of audiovisual presentation and broadcast for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He may be contacted at davidson@rodeohouston.com.

For additional information, contact Front Porch Digital at 303-440-7930 or visit www.fpdigital.com.



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