MTI Film Opens Massive Data Center to Support Television Editing Teams Working Remotely
Already being used by five television productions (nine by January), the new installation, dubbed the Remote Center, allows editors and their assistants to work from anywhere as if they were in the same physical space.
MTI Film has opened a high-speed, high-capacity data center in Hollywood dedicated to supporting television editing teams working remotely. The new site provides editors with dedicated connections to remote workstations and a shared storage environment, allowing them to edit and conduct other routine editorial operations as if they were in the same room. With an open-ended capacity, the site is already being used by 54 editors and assistants, and will reach as many as 90 by mid-January.
MTI Film CEO Larry Chernoff says that the data center is designed for what is fast becoming the new paradigm for television post-production. “When the pandemic arose in March, the post-production industry responded by sheltering at home and working remotely through a variety of internet-based streaming technologies, some good, some not-so-good,” he observes. “It became clear to us that we are not going back to the former model anytime soon and more innovation was required. Thinking past the current crisis, we concluded that a hybrid between remote and on-premises work will be the ‘new normal’ and that a comprehensive eco-system for picture post-production was needed.”
Representing that comprehensive eco-system, the MTI Remote Center employs a unique combination of networking, Avid workstations, storage, workflow management, transcoding and collaborative technology to enable editors and their assistants to work from anywhere while collaborating with each other and their producers. It features an Avid Nexis shared-storage environment with 112TB dedicated to each individual production, enough to maintain multiple seasons online.
MTI provides home-based editors with thin client computing devices that connect to the Remote Center via redundant fiber paths (with automatic failover). A variety of redundancies are built-in to guard against drive or power failures and avoid downtime. Daily backup of media and metadata happens automatically and is stored on a separate MTI SAN. The center also employs industry standard security measures against data loss or malicious intrusion.
“Editors can work from home studios or any other remote site,” observes Chernoff. “We provide the bandwidth to make the experience seamless. As long as they have an MTI supplied station attached to our remote center with a minimum of bandwidth on their end, editors have the same experience as they would while connected to a system located in the next room.”
MTI Film’s Cortex software is integrated throughout the workflow. Cortex facilitates several operational efficiencies, including the ability to render media in multiple formats simultaneously, saving assistant editors hours of daily work. “Renders that otherwise take hours, can be accomplished in a fraction of the time,” explains Chernoff.
A new Cortex feature, recommended by one of the editors, facilitates “single-step” VFX pulls that merge Avid EDLs with VFX markers into Cortex timelines, another significant timesaver. “Our goal is to develop Cortex software that is responsive to the ideas and needs that editors and assistants require and enables a more efficient use of their time,” says Chernoff.
MTI Film has rigorously tested the pipeline and has slowly made it available to working television productions. The response has been uniformly positive. “Our users tell us that the editorial experience is absolutely transparent,” Chernoff says.
Editors have long been looking for ways to work remotely and automate routine tasks; the pandemic simply added urgency to the need for practical solutions. “Post-production methodology has changed forever,” says Chernoff. “MTI Film is committed to being a long-term partner to its clients and their editorial staff, improving their work experience and quality of life.”