In mid-2012, the Comcast Media Center (CMC) refreshed its West Works Studios post-production operations by upgrading its enterprise-level edit system and relocating operations. This upgrade was required for a number of reasons, including: the need to meet the increased volume of services offered to West Works Studios clients; to create a more client-friendly “boutique” environment; to become more competitive in the national marketplace; and to optimize the West Works Studios operational footprint.
West Works Studios, the rebranded CMC Production Service Group, runs five production studios and 12 nonlinear edit rooms to support retail and commercial clientele as well as Comcast. With this operation evolution, West Works Studios was suffering from operational inefficiency due to a fragmented physical footprint and an enterprise edit system that was missing key features needed for more advanced projects. To resolve this condition, a multifaceted upgrade and relocation project was undertaken to ensure West Works Studios could continue to output the high-quality product that customers were accustomed to, while also becoming more competitive in the national marketplace.
First, the legacy edit rooms were relocated in order to position them closer to the facility’s main entrance and client services such as the commissary, conference rooms and business offices. The move provided an additional benefit as the rooms had previously served as an audio post-production operation and were optimized for audio sweetening, music composition and voice-overs, with lounge-like comfort. Two of the edit suites were constructed as multi-function edit (video and audio edit) using ProTools systems, each with a look into the 200sq-ft “quiet room” — a floating floor, mechanically-isolated space.
Though the environment was now more comfortable, the heart of the system delivered the biggest impact to the space’s upgrade. An Avid Isis 7000 system (running Interplay 2.5, Symphony 6.0 and four multichannel Airspeeds) was provisioned to allow direct-to-disc ingest and edit-on-the-fly in a newsroom-style capture-and-edit workflow.
Because West Works Studios provides a large quantity of B2B services to organizations outside of Comcast, resource availability and scheduling can be the largest challenge. With the enterprise-level integration provided in this installation, editors, producers, content capture staff and management all have per-mission-based access and viewing into the total system. Resource and content sharing allows an editor to complete an end-to-end capture-and-edit without having to physically travel to another side of the operation — or “wait in line” to use a pooled resource. Those issues have all but vanished.
But, the success is reflected in the volume of work being performed. Within two weeks of the finished installation, West Works Studios began performing the weekend capture and edit of every Southeastern Conference football game for the CSS regional sports network. These packages are acquired via occasional satellite or fiber feeds, captured to AirSpeed, stored in ISIS and edited on Symphony — all managed in real-time under the Interplay Production Asset Management umbrella.