Letterman Digital Arts Center manages high-res digital content
The Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC), inaugurated in June 2005, is the home of Lucasfilm, LucasArts and Industrial Light & Magic, which is one of the world’s largest visual effects houses. It resides in a 23-acre, 860,000sq ft production campus in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park.
With film project generating data upward of 30TB, the main challenge in designing the media infrastructure was enabling huge amounts of data to be transferred to any part of the facility on a moment’s notice.
Systems integrator Diversified Systems was responsible for mapping and laying the enormous amount of cabling throughout the campus, most of which was run beneath the 18in raised floors or through overhead cable trays. This, combined with the hot-swappable capability and front-serviceability of NVISION routers, allows the center’s upgrades and service to be a simple, non-disruptive event. The router design also dramatically reduces the amount of rack space needed for the same number of ports.
The LDAC includes three main theaters and seven viewstations. The Premier Theater is a 298-seat screening room equipped for digital and film projection. An NVISION router provides access to any media source in the facility. Two 65-seat Dailies Theaters for viewing visual effects, editing and digital color timing are served by a single control booth also equipped with two NVISION routers. The seven 20-seat viewstations provide an intimate setting for reviewing work at a detailed level. The theaters are tied directly via fiber to the facility’s core NVISION router in the media data center (MDC).
The center uses Super Wideband SDI, with NVISION routers handling video, AES audio, time code, machine control and other tasks. A/D conversion is handled by NVISION ASM10 modules, which provide audio and video A/D conversion, frame synchronization and audio embedding in a single unit.
The heart of the facility’s media system is the MDC, which houses nonlinear editing systems and custom-designed media servers. An NVISION router serves as the core routing system for delivering high-res images to the digital theaters, screening rooms and workstations.
Adjacent to the MDC is the master control room (MCR), which contains tape decks in various formats, as well as modular NVISION ASM10 units used for A/D conversion. Even though the theaters are equipped with one or two tape decks, the more expensive HDCam, HDCamSR and D5 decks are located in a central location — the MCR. NVISION routers enable access to any deck in the facility from any theater, which makes for a more cost-effective solution.