Golf Channel, Sony Launch Optical Disc Archive
The Golf Channel and Sony cut the ribbon this week on an archive project that has been two years in the making and will, eventually, result in the network’s transferring all its archived material to Sony’s new Optical Disc Archive (ODA) system.
“We looked at cloud-based formulas, magnetic tape, magnetic disc, and continuing the evolution of LTO,” says Ken Botelho, senior director of TV network operations, Golf Channel. “But it was pretty obvious from the beginning, after meeting with our Sony friends, that our only decision was optical disc for a lot of reasons.”
According to Sony SVP of Business Development Matt Soga, the optical-archive project was a natural transition because the Golf Channel was already familiar with XDCAM-based and disc-based operation.
“They have a sophisticated operation, and they always [want] quick access to the archives when they are shooting the live events — previous tournaments, previous wins — and they need many different shots of the player,” says Soga. “I’m sure this ODA system contributes to a more efficient, higher-quality operation of the Golf Channel and, with the robustness and longevity, 50 years, will provide the viable alternative to the Golf Channel compared to the other archive solutions. So we’re very excited to have this opportunity.”
The core of the new archive is Sony’s ODS-L30M master library unit. It can hold as many as two ODS-D77F fiber drives, giving it a maximum capacity of 30 optical discs. But extension units can boost that capacity to 535 discs, for a total storage capacity of approximately 802 TB.
Golf Channel’s Digital Transfer Center, established previously, has operators who will handle the transfer of material into and out of the archive. “We have 120,000 hours of material that needs to be archived, as well as another 8,500-10,000 hours a year in new material,” says Botelho.
When the project was being planned in 2009, one of the key concerns was to make sure that metadata related to the LTO tapes would be able to transfer to the discs. But the system ensures that all data, the video and audio bits as well as the metadata, easily transfers.
The Golf Channel will have two Sony ODA systems running concurrently: one for migrating all existing LTO tapes onto optical disc and a second that takes new material that hasn’t been archived yet and gets it into the system.
Golf Channel VP of TV Network Operations Dan Overleese notes that the archive is in active use because projects, such as an upcoming three-part series on Arnold Palmer, make use of material shot decades ago. “It’s not the old-school deep archive where you have tapes on the shelf and they just sit there for extended periods of time. As we looked to reinvent our archive, we wanted something that we could access very quickly and on a regular basis.”
The archive system connects to Golf Channel’s production and postproduction facility, which has a large Avid Isis and Interplay storage system coupled with Avid Symphony and Media Composer editing systems. Apple Final Cut as well as Adobe Premier suites are also on hand.
The fact that the optical-disc system has a 50-year guaranteed life cycle puts an end to the need to upgrade to new versions of LTO tape, according to Botelho.
“We started off archiving on LTO-2 and then moved to LTO-3, LTO-4, and LTO-5,” he explains. “As volumes became larger, migration of these systems became a very difficult process to deal with. Those people out there in the industry that have an LTO tape library realize quite early on they’re spending almost in perpetuity in migrating content.”
He also sees the optical-disc format as more reliable because it does not require the media to be physically handled.
“If you have a piece of plastic film and you put a magnetic substrate on that film and you push and pull that and stretch it left and right, left and right, it has a tendency to get larger or longer,” he points out. “And what happens to data, zeros and ones, is, you have a tendency to not read any of them any more. The loss of zeros and ones means the loss of data, which in turn means the loss of content.”
The second problem, Botelho adds, is that the rough ferrite heads that read the data flake off pieces of the tape over time, again compromising the archive’s integrity.
“The third problem is, if you store this in a less than enviable environmental condition, you have the same problem,” he says. “Material flakes off and can’t be read.”
Another advantage of an optical archive is that the cartridge that includes the 12 discs can be read as one file instead of 12 different discs. Says Botelho, “It’s a file that has a massive amount of storage capacity.”