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A Case Study—Home Depot TV

The Home Depot is the leading home improvement retailer, and their Home Depot Television (HDTV) facility in Atlanta produces corporate communications and employee training content for delivery on a growing variety of platforms. With a core staff of seven, HDTV relies on a large stable of freelance producers, videographers and editors to meet its demanding production needs. The facility creates both live and on-demand content using video acquired in the field and recorded in its studio.

“The sheer volume of media we work with, and the growing need to be able to deal with every video format under the sun, made it clear that we needed to begin our move away from tape-based production,” said Bruce Covey, manager of business TV engineering at The Home Depot. “We were already experiencing an explosion in the number of clients requesting multiformat video, and we knew we needed to be ready. Our challenge was to simplify media ingest and management, make it easier for HDTV staff to find and repurpose content, and facilitate delivery of finished video in the required format.”

The company required a media processing and storage platform that would integrate seamlessly with a leading archive system to serve as a large media management library system at the backend of the production workflow. Overrun with material coming in from the field and a constant flow from the studio, HDTV needed a streamlined way to track all of this content and put it into a cost-effective logical storage mechanism that would enable fast, easy retrieval at a later date.

HDTV purchased a Harmonic media processing and storage platform and integrated it with a XenData archive to support the end-to-end workflow, from ingest through to delivery. The Harmonic platform is comprised of a four-channel Spectrum MediaDeck server system, a 24-TB Omneon MediaGrid shared storage system, the Media Application Server (MAS) asset management system, and the ProXplore media clip and metadata management application, as well as a ProMedia Carbon transcoder and Workflow System (WFS).

“We looked at many different products from many different companies, and Harmonic alone listened to our needs, put a solution on the table, proved that it would work, and made it an investment that fit within our budget,” said Covey. The MediaDeck and MediaGrid systems respectively support ingest and provide central shared storage for production operations. MAS and the ProXplore Web interface simplify the file-based media workflow by enabling enterprise-wide visibility and coordinated management of content and, in turn, ensuring that HDTV can easily manage, access, and process stored content from a centralized platform. Built on standard IT hardware, the MAS provides an intelligent middleware layer between stored media content and the applications used to access or perform media processing tasks on content as it moves through its life cycle. WFS manages complex transcoding processes, performed by the ProMedia Carbon system.

Note that while the Omneon MediaGrid storage system can scale to extreme levels of capacity and performance, HDTV illustrates that MediaGrid is also a compelling fit for environments with more modest initial requirements. In this case, Home Depot TV deployed the smallest possible MediaGrid cluster that they can expand further in small increments, one node at a time, without taking the system offline.

HDTV uses the MediaDeck system to ingest studio material (SD and HD) and ProXplore automatically transfers that content to the MediaGrid storage system, where it becomes readily available to the facility’s Final Cut Pro® edit systems. Editors can instantly start new projects, track assets, and see proxy views of ingested content on the MediaGrid system. The ProXplore application and the MAS operate in conjunction to ensure easy management, access and processing of content from a centralized storage platform.

ProXplore facilitates the movement of completed projects from online storage on the MediaGrid storage system to offline (archive) storage on a Qualstar® tape library. The MAS database of project folders maintains the relationships of different files and projects, even after the assets move offline to the XenData archive. Proxies of all edited and finished content remain available to editors, who can search for content, scrub through the folders to find the clips they need, and flag material for restoration to online storage. If users recall an entire project folder, the MAS software compiles those assets and restores the full project folder to a specific location on the MediaGrid system. The WFS file-based workflow system manages ProMedia Carbon as it performs complex transcoding processes. The system supports multiple types of transcoding within one job and subsequently sends (via FTP) the resulting pieces to the appropriate external system. Finished material on the MediaGrid is transcoded by ProMedia Carbon for delivery to HDTV’s on-air systems and also for file delivery to PCs at The Home Depot stores. This aspect of the workflow enables HDTV to address the growing variety and rising volume of transcoding work associated with multiplatform media delivery.

HDTV has used the Harmonic platform to optimize its end-to-end file-based workflow and to reduce the complexity of its production and broadcast operations. Managing its extensive corporate video assets with ProXplore, HDTV has streamlined operations through centralized administration, configuration, and content security. Fast file-based access to media both for editing and review has enabled Home Depot TV to dramatically increase productivity. “In years past we were lucky to hit 250, or maybe 300 projects,” says Covey. “We are probably on track to do 600 to 700 projects this year. The efficiencies it brings to your operation are just astounding.”