Nomad Editing scales-up worldwide with CatDV and Akomi

“Thanks to CatDV with Akomi, we have complete control over a massive archive of advertising assets and can deliver an efficient, collaborative MAM service across international locations and time zones.” Matthew Poletto, technical producer, Nomad Editing


The user: Nomad Editing – Los Angeles, New York & London

Since its inception, in 1995, Nomad Editing has built an enviable reputation as a creative editorial company with integrated CG, visual effects, graphics and sound design for commercials, Internet advertising and feature films. Twenty years on, the company’s operations have expanded from its Santa Monica HQ to encompass burgeoning operations in New York and London, delivering spots for the world’s biggest brands. Nomad relies on CatDV plus Akomi to keep its massive and ever-expanding volume of assets alive for 24/7 review and reuse.

Nomad collaborates with leading advertising agencies, including Media Arts Lab, Wieden + Kennedy, TBWA, Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett and BBDO, for a multitude of global names, such as Starbucks, Bridgestone Tyres, Pepsi, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, Lexus, American Express, Facebook, Visa, Nike, Samsung, T-Mobile… the list goes on. Noted directors Traktor, Kinka Usher, Sam Beyer, Michael Bay, Frederik Bond, Dayton/Feris, Gerard de Theme and Guy Ritchie have all collaborated with the Nomad team on spots seen around the world. The company has a strong relationship with Bruckheimer Films and has worked on feature projects with DreamWorks, Disney, Warner Brothers and Fox. Over the years, Nomad editors have also worked on hundreds of music videos for high-profile artists including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, Tom Petty, Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi.

“Nomad has always championed creative people and provides facilities in an atmosphere that enables them to focus on inspiration and execution,” says Matthew Poletto, technical producer at Nomad Editing. “This ethos extends to having a fully-functioning and easily-accessible library of assets. The creative teams with whom we collaborate worldwide constantly want to review and possibly reuse old materials, as well as viewing work-in-progress. Thanks to the power of CatDV with Akomi, we have complete control over a massive archive of advertising assets and deliver an efficient, accurate and collaborative MAM service across local, national and international locations and across different time zones.”

The challenge: maintaining a huge, active library of assets for global access

“A dynamic of our business is that advertising clients always want to reference previous projects and rushes, for all manner of creative and practical reasons,” says Poletto. “Back in the day when the company first started, the pace of work was slower and the need to find assets was less. Finding materials on videotapes, hard-drives and consolidated onto DVDs from data in a spreadsheet was slow but doable. As Nomad grew we invested in an LTO-tape machine for archiving, and that was OK too for a while for retrieving assets, as we could access file names and restore in a decent enough amount of time.”

However, things changed as Nomad began to grow with additional clients, new operations in New York and London, and a dramatic increase in the size of original RAW media it was starting to handle from the then new breed of digital cinematography cameras.

“What’s more, with the blossoming of the Internet and mobile telephone communications, clients became accustomed to faster gratification of their requests – they wanted and expected to see their media much quicker,” he explains. “Our existing LTO-tape system was getting swamped, finding media was in danger of becoming a guessing game, and that can reflects badly.

“Driven by our client needs in a rapidly changing world, where the volume of media would only continue to mushroom, we recognised the need to take our MAM to another level entirely, and decided to invest in a more intelligent, flexible and scalable way to manage our assets globally. With CatDV and Akomi now in place, searching for clips takes just a few minutes, and gives clients around the world the high-level of efficiency they expect from Nomad.”

The solution: CatDV & Akomi MAM toolkit integrated with StorageDNA’s DNA Evolution

Poletto was introduced to CatDV in 2011 by North Shore Automation and LA reseller Key Code Media. He recalls, “Compared to other MAM systems, the financial entry-point for CatDV was attractive. The alternatives were either prohibitively expensive, or technical overkill, or both. We also liked Square Box’s progressive attitude towards integrating CatDV with other vendors – such as the LTO-tape archiving system from StorageDNA and North Shore Automation’s client-facing Akomi system – and we could see a clear, cost-effective path to scale-up into a larger enterprise system in the future.”

Nomad started out with multiple licenses of CatDV 7, a CatDV Server plus Worker Node running on Mac, integrated to its existing LTO-tape archiving. “Our media asset management was transformed in an instant,” he says. “In the first year, we archived, and made over two million assets available, via CatDV.”

However, with the business going from strength-to-strength, generating in the region of 10TB of assets per month at its LA HQ alone, Poletto says that this installation soon needed to be up-scaled. Furthermore, as the company was increasingly sharing projects between its LA, New York and London operations, serious consideration was needed as to how media asset management could best support international collaboration, whilst maintaining the security of the assets.

“For a small company we generate an outrageous amount of media,” he says. “Along with high-resolution RAW camera rushes, plus 4K DPX, CG and VFX files, we also create many different versions and lengths of each commercial, as well as wide range of deliverables for different distribution platforms. Whilst all of that media needs to be archived safely to LTO, only a certain proportion needs to be instantly searchable – mainly low-rez proxies of the rushes, work-in-progress and final commercials.

“Our foresight in selecting CatDV for its ability to integrate with other technologies became a real blessing. Looking at our present and future needs Square Box, North Shore and Storage DNA worked closely together and came up with a cool ‘reverse archive workflow solution.”

In most media management workflows, assets in the MAM system are sent to archive after a project is complete. However, to handle the high-asset count at Nomad with optimal efficiency, the assets for a project are archived to DNA Evolution first and, through middleware developed by North Shore, only the required media – proxies of rushes and completed jobs – plus associated metadata, are parsed to CatDV.

“By enabling CatDV and DNA Evolution to communicate intelligently together, and by enabling DNA Evolution to tell CatDV what’s been archived, we have effectively flipped the archiving workflow around, hence the ‘reverse archive’ workflow,” explains Poletto. “Nothing is manual, it’s all automated, labour-saving and quite revolutionary. The beauty of this approach is that whatever is published into CatDV is simultaneously published securely into Akomi, becoming instantly available for client review around the world. In this workflow, all the different parts of the workflow communicate together – Akomi talks to CatDV, CatDV talks to the LTO archive and you have complete control of your assets at any stage of the workflow.”

“It’s fast too for archive restore,” he adds. “Because we archive with assets bundled together into catalogues, when we view a clip in CatDV we instantly know where the DPX and VFX files reside in the LTO archive. With the SAS to fibre connection, we’re getting 600Mb/s transfer speed from LTO into CatDV, and assets can be retrieved in just a few minutes.”

For Nomad’s agency clients, Poletto says CatDV with Akomi has proven a revelation. “We have a sexy spin on our MAM operations with a web-friendly interface. Less technical users can search for footage, create in and out markers on clips, write descriptions, print screengrabs, create playlists and share all of that very easily to multiple recipients. The processing horsepower is delivered invisibly by CatDV Worker Node. As this is all done on a private, in-house system, rather than the cloud, clients have complete peace-of-mind that their assets are safe and secure.”

Along with client-side search and review, Nomad is also using the elegant integration of CatDV with Akomi to enhance creative collaboration between its three different offices.

For example, a cut made in by an Adobe editor in Los Angeles can be dropped into an Akomi folder and rapidly published to multiple recipients for viewing and annotation using CatDV Worker Node.

“The traditional route of uploading work-in-progress to the cloud is notoriously slow, and possibly insecure,” he comments. “With CatDV and Akomi the assets are published in seconds. What’s more, a finishing artist in New York or London can pick up the project with the certainty of having the correct assets, and the latest cut, eliminating the possibility of any costly errors. The international barriers of distance and time have gone. The workflow is now more unified between our sites and were closer as a company.”

Poletto also notes: “We absolutely love the new integration of Advanced CatDV Panels with Adobe Premiere. From within Premiere an editor can easily search for and pull-in any media from CatDV, and it all looks very fast and streamlined in the client-attend session.”

When asked what he would say to other post production houses considering their MAM options with CatDV, Poletto concludes, “Assets are the bread and butter of our company, and we blazed a trail in being one of the first commercials facilities in California to embrace MAM. If, like us, you need to manage, control and protect an expanding volume of assets from origination to distribution, you could not do better than the powerful combination of CatDV and Akomi to create your own private, secure, scalable system.”