Moving AVOD Workflows to the Cloud at Record Speed
Circle Media - Case Study
Circle needed to migrate Terabytes of on-premises storage to the cloud in less than two weeks to kick off post-production for their new Ad-based Video On Demand (AVOD) network launch. They needed a Cloud MAM provider to get them up and running in a record time. Making matters worse, the COVID pandemic hit just before launch. Editors and other team members were forced to work from home. Remote editing workflows had to be deployed quickly so that the editors and media management teams could collaborate. In short Circle needed to solve 3 primary challenges:
Circle partnered with the Evolphin Cloud Services team to move all existing on-premises content via a 100TB AWS SnowBall into the Cloud. Automated ingest in the cloud imported the content into Evolphin Cloud in less than a day. Using Evolphin’s built-in hi-res media cloud transfer app, editors & media managers are able to share camera cards and footages with ease. Media managers can trigger workflows to load massive amounts of content from the Evolphin cloud to VOD cloud partners with 0 EGRESS costs!
Circle migrated their initial 18TB data set in one day after the SnowBall was loaded by AWS. Since then, 40TB of content across 347K files have been ingested in less than 9 months. Now the team has accelerated their cloud ingest volume to ~6TB/month and realized a ton of cost savings by eliminating their WAN File Transfer service, as well as being able to operate with almost zero IT support.
Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., and Gray Television teamed up to create Circle Media, a premium linear television and OTT streaming channel dedicated to celebrating country music and the country lifestyle. The combination links Gray’s extensive distribution network in key markets across the country with Ryman Hospitality’s tremendous library of current and heritage content, artist relationships, iconic venues and music industry connections. With a vision for highlighting country music artists and the passions, hobbies and love of music they share with their fans, the venture connects country fans and artists like never before.
Super Fast Data Migration
Often left as an after-thought, Data Migration could have been a real nightmare for Circle. Simple ‘drag n drop’ ingest to a Cloud MAM just didn’t cut it, especially when Circle was moving TBs of data across thousands of on-premises folders. At the outset, the Evolphin Cloud team promptly dispatched a 100TB AWS SnowBall Edge device to Circle. The media manager then simply dumped all their media & project folders into the device and shipped it back to Evolphin’s AWS processing facility.
Within a day of receiving the AWS SnowBall, the Evolphin Cloud team ran its automated preflight cloud storage scan tool to give the Circle team deep insights into their content prior to ingest. The reports allowed the Circle team to identify file & folder patterns to ignore. For example, the team discovered there were over 4K files with an extension TGA:AFP_AFPINFO that were created by MacOS Finder and they could ignore these before data import.
In-place Cloud Ingest
Within hours the Evolphin Data Migration App had “in-place” ingested all of the content sent by the Circle team.
The AWS SnowBall S3 bucket was set up for an in-place ingest without any extra copying involved and to ensure a rapid data migration!
What could have been an expensive, time-consuming, and complex cloud data-migration, was effortless with Evolphin Cloud migrator app. Instead of spending hours worrying about data integrity, the Circle team were able to start working the next day!
Remote Editing From Home
Just when Circle was deploying to the Evolphin Cloud MAM, the COVID pandemic intensified and editors were forced to work from home. In order to make the remote editing experience smoother and simpler, Circle upgraded their creative team members in Nashville, TN to a 1Gbps symmetrical Internet connection. That meant most team members were able to upload or download at Gigabit speeds.
On a final point, each home based editor has the Evolphin Accelerated Transfer Hub turned ‘on’ to take advantage of the high-speed Internet connections for transferring their large media projects.
Wicked Fast Parallel Transfers
Zoom automatically divides the large media into chunks and then uploads them in parallel. Circle’s editors can upload or download entire folders recursively.
Low-res proxy editing
Remote Proxy Editing Saves Tons of Time
Circle’s editors take advantage of low-res proxy editing workflows in Zoom to cut down on the hi-res media that needs to be transferred from the cloud to their desktops. They can stream proxies prior to adding them to their projects.
When the time comes for the final conform, they can click High-res to bring down the raw footage to their MacOS desktops using the Evolphin accelerated transfer manager.
Syncing Motion Graphics Files
The Circle team uses a lot of TGA image sequences when creating cool animations. A typical motion graphics project render might generate hundreds of independent TGA image files. Before Evolphin Zoom, the team would have had to manage & transfer each animation as a series of individual files. This was painful and error prone. There was no way to say, take my animation and transfer automatically all the constituent files. Search was a nightmare across thousands of frames that all look similar.
First MAM to Include Image Sequence Support
Why ingest 1000's of frames when you can ingest one Image Sequence object?
Zoom allowed the Circle team to automatically map a sequence of TGA images as a single compound asset. Search in Zoom only needs to span less than 1000 unique TGA sequences instead of > 300K files in a traditional MAM!
Distributing to VOD Platforms
The end goal for Circle was to push finished content easily and cost-effectively to their VOD partners. Before Evolphin Zoom, the team was using a variety of mechanisms including 3rd party WAN accelerator products such as Aspera and Signiant to push their content. This approach proved unreliable and difficult to scale given the number of shows & content produced was ramping up.
Using Evolphin’s accelerated transfer hub technology, Circle was able to set up ‘serverless in-cloud’ transfers with their VOD platforms. The Evolphin Cloud team even helped their VOD platform provider to move their AWS S3 bucket to the same region as Circle to reduce the egress costs to zero. All the complexity of managing S3 bucket ACLs and securing cloud storages were managed by the Evolphin platform without the need for Circle IT resources.
Ditch the 3rd party WAN accelerator!
Zoom includes a global network of accelerated transfer hubs that moves hi-res content at lightning speeds saving Circle team time and money.
Managing Cloud Storage Costs
Like many post-production houses, Circle was worried about cloud storage costs as they ramped up post-production for 30+ shows. Evolphin addressed the costs via automated cloud storage tiering using its ARS (automatic retention service). ARS allows Circle Asset Managers to simply mark assets as ready to move to AWS Deep Glacier or even setup ARS rules to automate this step. Once the hi-res media has transcoded to proxies and the originals are no longer needed, the content is tiered into a lower cost cloud storage.
Deep Glacier Integration
Archive to 20X cheaper storage tier
Evolphin offers an AWS Glacier Deep Archive connector that lets media managers either setup an automated metadata trigger or move on-demand any project or it’s linked asset into the cheapest storage tier in AWS.
Scale Transcoding Not Your Costs
In the past few months as Circle’s monthly ingest volume went up from 1TB to 6TB, Jordan reported transcodes in the cloud taking longer.
Evolphin’s cloud team was able to change CPU allocation to the transcoding Docker microservices to eliminate the transcoding bottleneck at no extra cost to Circle!
Evolphin Cloud Transcoder
AWS Cloud Transcoder
The Best Support Out There!
Early in the Evolphin Zoom deployment at Circle an extremely disruptive issue came up. The MacOS desktop used by editors would hang or crash with a dreadful kernel panic. The Circle management was extremely concerned to say the least. Their initial concern was that the Evolphin cloud agent on the desktop was the cause of the intermittent Mac workstation crashes.
Whole day was spent troubleshooting the issue. The Evolphin support team was able to identify the root cause. It was the Google Drive File Stream driver on the MacOS workstation!! Once the errant Google driver was uninstalled, sanity was restored and all was well.
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