Modern VideoFilm is a post-production house with 30 years of credits on countless high-profile television programs and feature films, including “Modern Family,” “The Walking Dead,” “Avatar” and “Real Steel.” Modern VideoFilm employs nearly 500 artists, technicians, engineers and support personnel in four primary facilities in Southern California. It also has a Scottsdale, AZ, operation that is part of the electronic delivery system.
To take advantage of growth opportunities, Modern VideoFilm upgraded its infrastructure in 2011-’12 to expand its file-based capabilities and allow for better geographic coverage. That upgrade included a new 96,000sq-ft facility in Burbank that serves as the company’s headquarters and main data center.
Any room in the facility can serve any purpose — from color correction to editorial, image processing to sound — simply by connecting desktops to different equipment and systems. Rooms are connected to the central data room via preterminated fiber and a routing switcher, and all image and sound files are available, by permission. Using the latest technology (which can be upgraded easily), Modern VideoFilm has the flexibility to handle any project.
Because Modern VideoFilm daily handles time-sensitive, file-based material, the new facility had to be extremely reliable. Therefore, the goal was to design an infrastructure with sufficient connectivity and storage because the facility needed to accept and distribute data as fast as clients could provide it.
To do this, Modern VideoFilm installed a UTAH-400/XL routing switcher in a 1056 x 1056 frame. The UTAH-400 is capable of processing embedded audio that Modern VideoFilm distributes around the facility. The UTAH-400 has 3G capability for routing any signal type, and the flexibility to handle multiple standards simultaneously. Compatible with the company’s Miranda NVISION digital control system, the UTAH-400 houses all video SDI sources and destinations, which means Modern VideoFilm could forego installing video and audio patch panels — saving money and significantly improving reliability.
Modern VideoFilm also relies on Harmonic’s MediaGrid system for production and transport storage because of its architecture (it can be implemented as a single-volume NAS) and performance characteristics (deterministic read-write speeds comparable to most SANs). MediaGrid is used across the IP infrastructure (making system management much easier than with a multivolume fiber-channel SAN), and file fragmentation never compromises performance.
Aside from a tight design-and-build timeline, designers faced a connectivity challenge given the building’s size. Copper connectivity wouldn’t work because of distance, so a significant fiber infrastructure was built into every room.
Innovations in the LEED Gold-certified building include a custom-built access-control system for maximum security; multiple layers of soundproofing drywall and sophisticated door seals for sound isolation between rooms; and the most efficient chiller system on the market.
Thanks to smart design and choice of equipment, Modern VideoFilm has a flexible, reliable, secure new facility that can thrive in the post-Internet age.