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PBS KVIE Streamlines Storage With Avid

PBS KVIE Todd Cima
Todd Cima and the team at KVIE switched to an Avid NEXIS | E5 NL for storage. (Image credit: PBS KVIE)

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—KVIE is a PBS member station licensed to Sacramento. In addition to producing national series such as “America’s Heartland” or statewide series like “Inside California Education,” we produce local series like “Studio Sacramento” and “Rob on the Road.” KVIE has two studios and nine Adobe Premiere Pro edit bays.

For years we had an outside integrator manage our edit and storage systems. Unfortunately we couldn’t control the costs of maintaining the system because it was pieced together from multiple vendors; in addition we were also reliant on a third party for support. As the on-site engineer, I didn’t like having to tell my team that they were down until I got support. When our integrator announced his retirement, we decided to rebuild the entire system from the ground up in order to be able to locally administer it.

CHECKING ALL THE BOXES

In our old system, there was no redundancy built into our LTO library, so on the occasions when we lost a tape all that data was gone. LTO is marketed as a cheaper solution compared to spinning disk, but it can be quite costly when you factor in redundancy, support and migration to new LTO standards.

Our old system was built using multiple vendors for edit and storage. This meant that an upgrade to one system could easily break the workflow to another, so upgrades usually came with growing pains. KVIE wanted a streamlined system we could manage without constantly asking for outside help, so I started looking for a single-vendor solution.

Avid is the only vendor I found that provides an end-to-end solution across asset management and storage. My boss came from an Avid Unity environment and found it easy to manage and reliable. However, our editors liked using Premiere Pro and did not want to switch to Media Composer just for the asset management. So when I discovered Avid systems worked with Premiere Pro, it checked all the boxes on both the technical and creative sides.

We invested in Avid NEXIS | E5 NL nearline storage, NEXIS | E4, NEXIS | System Director Appliance (SDA) and MediaCentral | Asset Management with HP servers for a virtual machine environment. A lot of people think you need to use Media Composer with MediaCentral, but Avid has done a lot over the years to integrate it with Premiere. It can do all the things our old MAM can do and much more.

MAKING THE SWITCH

We placed the order in June but had to put the integration on hold for a while due to the lockdown. Once the integration started, it took roughly three months to install, get the infrastructure in place and do some engineering on the back end. We developed a procedure to migrate the most relevant content and metadata first, so we could clean up the archive as we went.

We switched from an LTO tape archive to an Avid NEXIS | E5 NL so everything’s faster. Nearline storage is more appropriate for us because we repackage materials. A new episode of “America’s Heartland” hasn’t been shot in five or six years, but we repackage them as “greatest hits” shows, so we’re constantly pulling seasons of material from the archive. Switching to 10-Gig connections off an Avid NEXIS E5 NL improves our speed and ability to not only re-archive content once it’s edited, but also gain back space, which was a big limitation with LTO.

There’s a perception that Avid is expensive, but by committing to five years of support, our annual operational costs have gone down significantly. Everything is doubled up—we have two controllers on the E5 NL, two on the E4, two on the SDA and high-availability VM servers—so if anything fails, there’s no downtime.

Avid’s support is great and super fast. When I see a firmware update, I know it’s Avid-approved and won’t break the rest of the system. As well as being a system that we can manage in-house, it’s easily expandable—we can easily add another Avid NEXIS E5 or expand the Avid NEXIS E4.

We also like the fact that Avid is a stable company that will still be here five years from now. It gives us a clear path forward for future upgrades and expansion.

Todd Cima is the assistant chief engineer at PBS KVIE. He has worked at the PBS station for six years. He can be contacted at tcima@kvie.org.

For more information, visit www.avid.com.