H2O gained huge amounts of time back with CatDV and Avid

We met with Benedict Degornet, head of postproductin at H20 Productions, about the company’s workflow based on AVID and the CatDV MAM solution.

Hello, Benoit.  Please introduce yourself and tell us how long you have worked at H2O. What is your role?

 I have worked at H2O for a year and I am officially in charge of post-production. I am responsible for supervising all technical aspects of postproduction. This includes shows that are produced ​​on premise at H2O, such as daily productions like  ”It’s Only TV,” “It’s Only Sports,” the “big issue for comedy,” and many other premium programs and specials during the year.

What kind of equipment have you installed at H2O since your arrival, and what are the requirements for the programs that you mentioned?

We have eight editing suites that are connected to an Avid ISIS 32TB shared storage system with a 32TB expansion chassis.

We also have two Mac graphics stations using After Effects connected to the ISIS and an assistant dedicated to the management of content export and delivery of all media for channel ingest.  We worked with DID to set up the CatDV MAM, which is the heart of our postproduction operation, and an archive system using PresSTORE with a Quantum Scalar I40 LTO. CatDV is the database that manages the entire operation.

Previously, we had a bandwidth flow problem with our Avid ISIS storage workflow. With 15 stations often reading and writing at the same time, it was essential to find a solution for increasing bandwidth and improving performance. To relieve the excessive load on our storage system, DID installed a 32TB ISIS chassis. Now that we have double the bandwidth, the problem is solved!You chose DID as your implementation partner on this project. How long have you worked with DID and what benefits have they brought you? 

Philippe Stoltz initiatied our partnership with DID in (year?), and we have trusted them to implement all our MAM solutions and all connected extensions ever since. They installed a PresSTORE archive on a Quantum LTO library and Avid ISIS shared storage to provide additional bandwidth. We chose the CatDV solution  for its simplicity and modulaité; At first we evaluated a number of different MAM solutions, but with hindsight and the operation we have today, we realize that CatDV was the most appropriate and relevant choice for H2O. CatDV is a real pleasure to work with and a true “Swiss Army Knife” solution that can easily adapt as our business requirements grow and evolve.

Are you satisfied with the installation by DID and has CatDV lived up to your expectations?

Absolutely! The solution functions perfectly and does a great job. It’s especially impressive when you consider that we started from scratch with the cataloguing and indexing of our files, and we had to move all content from external drives to the ISIS system. Previously, we were tracking files on those external drives using simple Excel documents. The spreadsheets told us what was stored on each drive, but we had no easy way of finding the actual files on the drives. Now CatDV allows us to find and access all images quickly and easily. It supports us very well in  our daily work and it is a very important part of H2O and the management of our company’s heritage.

We are making the best of having all of our files on hand quickly, to select the best material and mount in record time, so we are now happy with the CatDV configuration. So we gained a huge time back. DID advised us, we followed, we have established specifications and the result is really quality.

So this is not only a functional part of work today, but also an essential part in H2O?

 Absolutely, it is a daily utility to also perform sales and extracts to make the Best of; MAM CatDV without our manufacturing again become a nightmare and now it is a pleasure to manufacture Best of!

You use an Avid ISIS shared storage with assembly stations from another manufacturer; is that the configuration stable, would you recommend to your colleagues? 

I even already recommended to others. In a year of activity with two chassis Avid ISIS I have not had a single problem. Given the urgency with which is carried our transmission and distribution which must be done very quickly, we are faced with timing that is very very very short. We need a powerful tool and Avid ISIS is a great help.

What is your perspective on the backup media, and archiving in general, do you have any preferences? 

My previous experience has always focused on the LTO. I was already using at Duran systems with Retrospect on DAT tapes. We made Protocols sessions and archiving to tape. The LTO tape archive enables high durability and for me it is the most reliable solution. It is used for archiving rather long term.

How much media do you have to archive and what media? 

One terabyte archive a week or 40 TB for a year. In fact the choice of making a duplicate copy is 80TB archive because one did. We must not forget that it is the heritage of the company that is at stake. We wanted to have an example of the archives in H2O and another example that is stored in a place of secure storage. Bookstore Quantum is equipped with 2 players and since one year of activity the library gives me satisfaction and I recommend it to my colleagues. Zero worries for now; there are 40 slots available and I have a license to use 24 and things are well done because I put a cartridge in the slot 25 and of course it is not readable it is only the next day that I ‘I realized that I had put in a slot was not activated; there is little human error but it’s rarely technical problems.

Regarding the technical support hotline, interventions, which makes hardware support? What do you want from DID, are you satisfied?

 All the support, maintenance, operation assistance and on-site is provided by DID; advice too … In general I prefer to entrust all to the same company; so I have both an interesting financial burden and nobody can pass the buck by saying that the problem is in the other. I have always been satisfied by DID and deadlines are met; we answer to my problems and responses are still relevant.

How do you see the evolution of your equipment and formats in H2O?

In terms of format I do not see any major changes in the four to five years to come.

At H2O, I can not see but I could be wrong that D8 may want to switch to a different format than HD, at best a channel as channel + might want to do but we are on a stream of television and wedge on standard broadcast formats. It is not pévu yet to evolve to the 4K. Probably we will upgrade the machines for more powerful editing rooms. A challenge that would be interesting is up in image quality and have on our premises a solution of additional calibration with a calibration screen and a powerful calibration panel. For some programs that would be of significant interest. We still have some shows that are externally mounted to a space problem; Unfortunately, Adobe Premiere break issue for multi camera uses. Emissions as “the chicken or the egg” which face the plain Saint Denis require several diverged flow we always prefer to post produce outside.

What is your goal and how you see the evolution of H2O for 5 years? 

After a year of work and establishment I have officially decided to leave H2O for new adventures. My substitute that I am trying to make is called Cedric Fritz.


Hello Cedric Benedict has said that you’ll replace him from mid August, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself?

I worked for six years on the flow of emissions including that of Lawrence Ruquier where I was in charge of post-production; I had no formal responsibility for the post production but I learned a lot; after I was in charge of post-production of the big team for 3 years. At the big team we did a lot of reality TV, “the angels of reality, Nabilla Hello, Friends trip, Hollywood Girls” with lots of variation; we were on an infrastructure with 13 editing rooms internally and rose to 15 during my visit especially on Final Cut; Then we went on Avid Media composer to manage a larger portion of the rushes for the reality requires the operation of a very large amount of Rushes.

So I took care of the technical and management facilities, and there I therefore arrives at H2O for new adventures.

Currently, I take my bearings and I have not seen any system operation including the MAM and archiving and how things are organized.

There is a developing to do and I wonder if we will develop additional rooms in house or if we will turn to the outside because we lack space. I look at that for now to evaluate what I could possibly improve in October. For now I take my bearings.

Interview by Jean-Michel Bouvet