Golf Channel Taps Front Porch Digital for Asset-Management Hole in One

Golf Channel has quite a content library, with more than 100,000 hours of legacy videotape locked away. In addition, the network accumulates another 6,500 hours of footage annually, so every day that the network was without an archive and storage solution made for exponentially more work, once that solution was chosen. In January, Golf Channel installed a DIVArchive content-storage-management system and a SAMMA V.4 Robot from Front Porch Digital at its offices in Orlando, FL. Although it may take four years to digitize all the network’s content, that process, as well as a new all-in-one workflow, is now under way.

An All-in-One Solution
“Part of our solution was not only to get this content over to a digital file, because of constant deterioration and loss of videotape metallic oxide, but we also had to come up with a way to put our current material, XDCAM HD, in a hermetically sealed, capture-it-forever type of approach,” explains Ken Botelho, senior director of engineering for Golf Channel. “There is an acquisition part of this all the way through near-term archive, mid archive, and deep archive.”

In implementing an end-to-end solution, Botelho emphasized the need to encapsulate both acquisition and digitization, so that new content would be available in the workflow via search of proxies in a streaming format.

“That’s the big thing,” Botelho says. “When we come back from shooting a tournament, in addition to what’s coming to us live from the Tour, we’re doing all sorts of wraparounds and ENG applications, so we might bring back 600 XDCAM discs. Those have got to get loaded into a jukebox-type carousel and ingested into the system. That used to be a whole lot of man-hours, but we’ve changed that, so our workflow migration is much more efficient.”

The Front Porch Digital DIVArchive system, along with the SAMMA V.4 Robot, is behind that efficient digital workflow.

The implementation of the Front Porch Digital system is being phased in as part of Golf Channel’s transition to high definition, which also includes standardizing field production on Sony XDCAM HD and upgrading news and programming postproduction to Avid systems, using Interplay and ISIS.

New Places, Same Faces
Happily, at Golf Channel, a new workflow does not mean a new workforce, although some job titles have changed.

“With the SAMMA Robot, it’s great to retrain our library employees, who have been handling this content for years, and convert some of them into digital-transfer-center employees, which we’re now calling encoders and impressionists,” Botelho says. “We’re moving this tape little by little.”

The Robot can digitize as many as 1,000 hours of content each week, but, with hundreds of thousands of hours in the library, Botelho expects this project to take about four years to complete.

Perfect Playing Partners
The biggest challenge with this project was attempting to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer number of hours involved.

“To successfully migrate videotape assets and try to move them into high-quality digital files and then put them in a central repository, now you have preservation to worry about, not to mention access and repurposing,” Botelho says.

He chose the Front Porch Digital system in part because it communicates well with all the other products that the system entails.

“It plays well with all of the other flavors that we’re using,” Botelho says. “Everything moves over to a Sony PetaSite storage system, of which we have four plus two Sony carousels for XDCAM disks that constantly move material back and forth.”

One of those flavors comes from Dixon Sports Computing, a sports-logging-software company that has written custom software for Golf Channel. As the network’s legacy content is archived and metadata is written for it, any editor will be able to sit at a workstation and bring up legacy content.

“They can watch live streaming content and be able to make decisions based upon time-coded metadata information that they want to pull an asset,” Botelho says. “The system will retrieve it, send it to the Avid ISIS system, and allow people to edit it. When we’re all done with this, the manual intervention will be gone; you read the metadata, say I see it, I want it, and recover it.”

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