PGA Tour Tees Up New Asset-Management SystemOctober, 26, 2009 PGA TOUR Entertainment is building a media-asset management (MAM) system that will move the organization into a tapeless environment and promises to speed existing workflows while preserving the rich history of PGA TOUR golf tournaments, interviews with players, and more.
“We have the largest library of golf footage in the world,” says David Dukes, director of technical operations, PGA TOUR Entertainment. “And we want to make sure it’s preserved for history.”
When the facilities are finalized, the core of the system will be installed: a Vizrt Ardome MAM system, Dixon Sports logging stations, a Hewlett-Packard EVA6400 SAN (Storage Area Network) with about 28 TB of storage, HP Generation 6 servers, and a Quantum i2000 LTO tape library (current plans are to use the fifth-generation LTO5 drives expected to be available in 2010). Those technologies will be used for two purposes: to improve content-creation workflows that open new revenue streams and business models while building an archive.
“We like the Ardome system because it is flexible enough for us to customize it for our workflow without having to develop totally custom applications,” Dukes explains. It also allows integration with the Dixon logging software, EVS servers, and Avid editing systems and Unity storage.
CDW, which became a PGA TOUR technology partner in 2007, helped out as a systems integrator, bringing together the HP servers with the software components.
“We began by laying out the system with Vizrt and the other partners involved with our system to find out who could handle what parts of the project responsibilities most effectively, “ says Dukes. “CDW provided all the expertise we needed to help build a sold IT-system foundation that Vizrt will use to create the MAM environment.”
Those technologies will be pushed to their limit during the next five years: PGA TOUR Entertainment has 80,000 hours of historical content to ingest. Future tournaments will also be ingested. He says, “We have tournaments more than 45 weeks a year, so there will be constant incoming material.”
When new content is ingested into the Ardome system, both a high-resolution copy and a low-resolution copy will be available. Standard definition will be ingested at 50 Mbps using the IMX codec; Avid DNX at 145 Mbps will be used for high-definition material.
With dozens of golfers at every event and hundreds of shots, the potential for loggers to become overwhelmed with fields and metadata looms as a problem. But PGA TOUR Entertainment will integrate some key data from Shotlink, the technology that is the backbone of PGA TOUR events. During every tournament, Shotlink captures all the statistical information for the entire event.
“We will use Shotlink to provide our logging system with information, such as player’s rosters, as well as course hole and par data,” Dukes explains, “so our loggers will not need to enter all that information.”
For example, there are two tournaments played at Pebble Beach, but each as a different setup with different pars for the same hole. A Shotlink course ID will ensure that loggers use the proper course information for the tournament being logged.
Proxy video will play a key role in logging and preview. Staffers at the Dixon logging stations will add a variety of metadata for every shot and putt recorded at a tournament. Metadata entry will also rely heavily on screen buttons that add more-specific data. “The loggers will be able to push a button and add metadata,” says Dukes, “like whether the shot was in the rough or bunker, if it was a closeup, or if it was a birdie.”
An important feature of the system is that, as the loggers build each clip, the metadata is automatically pushed to the Ardome system. “We don’t have to wait until all of the tournament has been logged,” says Dukes. On average, he adds, about 500 clips will be logged for each tournament.
Once clips are logged into the system, PGA TOUR Entertainment staff will be able to search metadata and request their low-resolution proxies. When they choose the shots for the piece of content being built, a partial file restore will deliver high-resolution versions of the clips.
“Most of the current material will be stored on spinning disks, but, at a certain point, that content will be pushed off to the LTO (tape) archive,” explains Dukes. “The SAN is really a way station that will hold the most recent two weeks of tournament content and material.”
Accessing the content on the SAN is a priority for staffers, and, with the help of Vizrt’s Ardex application, content will be moved easily from the SAN to an Avid Unity so that editors using Avid Symphony Nitris and Adrenaline editing systems can complete a variety of projects.
“That’s a key difference from systems at other leagues,” says Dukes. “Our editors won’t edit on the MAM system SAN directly but will use it to push and pull content to and from our Avid environment.”
A 48-TB Avid Unity system stores material for editors, pulling high-resolution material off the SAN via the Ardome system. “We opted to use Unity and Avid’s Interplay system in our postproduction environment because they are very effective for that part of the process.”
Vizrt staffers in New York City are hard at work on PGA-specific code and integration with hardware components, Dukes says. The goal now is to have a pilot system up and running late this year and then scale up to the full system in early 2010.
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