MLB Productions begins migrating archives with SAMMA Systems

Major League Baseball Productions has entered into a multi-year agreement to use technology from Front Porch Digital's SAMMA product line to preserve its archives and eventually migrate more than 150,000 hours of content from videotape and other analog media to easily accessible digital storage. As the project progresses, MLB Productions and sibling MLB Network, with which it shares infrastructure and facilities in Secaucus, NJ, will rely on an expanded and upgraded Front Porch Digital DIVArchive system to provide content storage management (CSM) for a seamless digital production workflow that includes access to stored archival content.

Elizabeth Scott, vice president of programming and business affairs for MLB Productions, said they chose the SAMMA system because of its capability to automate a significant portion of the process — thereby reducing the need for constant tape-by-tape manipulation — and the facility already has a Front Porch Digital DIVArchive system in place, so they anticipate smooth integration between the migration and storage systems.

MLB's oldest archived moving images were shot in 1905, and its library vaults contain legendary highlights, complete games, and interviews spanning decades. Today, the league records and archives every game—more than 2,400 each year. In total, MLB Productions has more than 150,000 hours of baseball footage stored on magnetic videotape and other carriers that are cumbersome to access and track, and are subject to the aging process. Because the bulk of that archive is now on Betacam tape, MLB Productions has selected a SAMMA 7-stream Beta Robot to perform the conversion. MLB Productions has also selected two SAMMA Solo devices to work on content currently residing on other formats, including 3/4in tape and film.

MLB Productions has developed criteria for identifying which content will be migrated to digital formats first, based both on its frequency of use and the risk of deterioration. Also in the works is the import into MLB's proprietary DIAMOND media asset management (MAM) system of logging and related metadata of the archived content. Once digitization takes place, that audio-visual content can be instantly married to its appropriate metadata, and searched and retrieved much faster than on analog storage devices.

The SAMMA systems will simultaneously digitize and encode SD archived content into two high-resolution formats (lossless JPEG 2000 for deep archive and XDCAM HD 50Mb/s essence copies) and two proxy formats (MPEG-1 and H.264). At the same time content is digitized, details of its digitization will be logged into MLB's own DIAMOND MAM system.

The newly digitized archival content will be managed by MLB's expanded DIVArchive CSM system. At the network, DIVArchive supports a seamless digital workflow in which more than 50TB of irreplaceable content is ingested every week during the baseball season. The archive itself will be housed in a Sun StorageTek SL8500 LTO-4 data tape library and eventually transitioned to denser media as those become available.