Pinewood Studios Avocent HMX Case Study
Desktop Area Networking and KVM-over-IP Switching
"The Avocent HMX solution has been a great asset to this part of the business - without it, this department's workflow would be much harder to manage and time would be wasted" - Patrick Wilbraham, Post Production Project Engineer
Pinewood Studios is the home of world class film, television and commercial production and post production facilities. The Studios provide facilities for major national and international film production, filmed television, studio television recording, the filming of commercials and post production sound services.
The Post Production audio facilities at Pinewood and Shepperton rank amongst the finest in the world. With 16 post production theatres, ADR, Foley, narration, mixing and international dubbing, Pinewood Post Production offers everything required to support a production. The department has assembled an award-winning team of experts who collectively and individually deliver internationally-acclaimed audio post-production for film, TV and commercials.
Pinewood Studios recently opened up a new department carrying out Film & Audio restoration, and a lot of new equipment needed to be purchased and installed quickly. They all needed to be interlinked to a central Storage Area Network (SAN), and all the workstations and servers needed to be accessed from different positions. There were seven systems in total, all running on different platforms, ranging from Windows, Mac, Linux, to waveform meters, video playback systems and archive tape robots, all of which needed to be interconnected and integrated with the SAN.
"We were looking for a solution to provide us access to servers located in one secure area, from various workstation positions - we had no existing infrastructure, it was a new build." said Patrick Wilbraham, Post Production Projects Engineer at Pinewood Studios.
IP Performance were able to design a solution based on the Avocent HMX family of KVM-over-IP switched extender systems and the HMX Manager appliance, a hardened Linux server which manages the connection brokerage and session switching across a copper CAT5e Gigabit Ethernet switched network infrastructure. Once a Proof of Concept (PoC) was complete and the design approved, Pinewood Studios trialled the equipment in the Restoration and Transfer Bay areas of the Post Production Department for several weeks.
With the help of IP Performance and Avocent, Patrick's team have equipped the Post Production Editing Suites and Transfer Bay with Avocent HMX 1070 user stations and IQ transmitters, and an HMX Manager appliance, allowing multiple editors to access, and share, any data source. Those data sources may be as disparate as a DVS Spycer Content Management System running on Linux, a Clipster DI editing system running on Windows XP, a ProTools system running on an Apple Mac, or a Linux-based compositing or rendering application. Leveraging the native IP Multicasting functionality of the system using the HMX Manager, a server-based appliance controlling sessions and connection brokerage, editors are able to access and share resources without having to leave their editing suites or workstations, streamlining the workflow process and speeding up the delivery of final content.
"One of the reasons that we went with IP Performance's Avocent-based solution was that the system is IP-based, so it would be very easy to integrate into the existing network we have here, and it also had the ability to share systems. It is simple to update, and we can add new stations quickly and with great ease" added Patrick. "Throughout the project there was a feeling that we were supported by IP Performance and Avocent, and that any issues were speedily addressed and resolved."
Patrick continued: "I have to say as well that the pricing structure was very good. It is hard to quantify ROI as this whole department is a new build, but integration and sharing of systems will definitely save costs. The system allows easy integration of other areas of the business, and that is something we will be looking at in the very near future." The first of these areas will be integration with the Restoration department, Media Transfer Centre and Sound department, some of which is located a few miles apart at Shepperton Studios (also part of the Pinewood Studios Group, as are Teddington Studios).
"I'd probably be a lot fitter if we didn't have the HMX solution, because of the constant running around between the same systems" - Thom Berryman, Post Production Engineer