50 Kaliber Films Extend their Digital Asset Management

March 21, 2012

50 Kaliber’s Chief Technology Officer, Evan Butson worked with Digistor to set up Digital Asset Management using Extensis Portfolio Server

Evan Butson, 50 Kaliber Films
Evan Butson, 50 Kaliber Films

"We were able to effectively modulise each step so there was always redundancy we could switch over too so that it would never effect the editors"
Evan Butson  

50 Kaliber Films is a Melbourne based Film Based Digital Media Solutions company founded in 2002 by Creative Director Dieter Kahsnitz. Since then they’ve grown to work with some of the worlds largest corporations.

“Based on the needs of our clients we’ve transformed from a pure production house into an innovative end-to-end film based digital media solutions company which keeps our clients at the forefront of the changing digital media landscape and produces superior film based communications outcomes for them as a result.” says Dieter.

50 Kaliber Films provide the strategy, creative concepts and full production capabilities to make a variety of productions to meet the objectives of their clients.

“We’ve been on the back of motorcycles going around racetracks at 260kp, we’ve live broadcasted from the Beijing Olympics, we’ve filmed 1.7 kilometers below ground in mines all over the world, we listen to what our clients require from their product and we then go out and do it at the highest level of quality, with the smartest creative and in the most cost effective way” Dieter explains.

“At the moment in this industry we find clients who are increasingly reluctant to engage numerous different providers in order to undertake a successful film based digital media communications program. They want to know that they can get leading strategic advice about when, where and how to use film based communications, they want it produced at a high quality and fit for the purpose of the media channel they intend to communicate, whether this be on the web, in an iPad application, a TVC over free to air or on an AV display screen, and they want the flexibility to quickly re-purpose captured footage to continually re-fresh and update content as this is what today’s digital age requires. This is why clients engage 50 Kaliber.”

In 2009, 50 Kaliber’s Chief Technology Officer, Evan Butson responded to the growing demand for more sophisticated Digital Asset Management for their Digital Media Management System. With tens of thousands of videos and still images needing to be accessed at any one time and re-used in films, matching up certain pieces of footage with consent forms and who’s being filmed and what they do is essential to what they produce.

“It’s all well and good to have all this media, people go to Office-Works and buy giant hard drives, attach them to a file server and just dump all the media on them, but it is completely useless and no point if people can’t quickly find the RIGHT media they are looking for.”

The Problem

50 Kaliber was running Final Cut Server which did provide some asset management, metadata could be entered and searches performed based on that Metadata, but it had some major downsides in that it was not scalable to the need of their ever growing media library. Apple also announced that Final Cut Server was end of life and would no longer be updated or supported. Further complicating matters due to limitations in FCS the Metadata inside FCS could not be exported as part of a migration of the database to a new solution. (ie. into a CSV or Excel format).

Finding a Solution

Evan began looking at different options for a new media server with a list of requirements: Support for large data sets, multiple databases, drag and drop editing, stability and it needed to be extensible.

"Extensis wasn’t my immediate choice as it was mainly used for still images, looking out for a replacement Digital Asset System was on the cards for about a year, then I read about Extensis Portfolio Server in Digistor News and realised it could also be used for video content."

The Upgrade Process

The next stage was working out how to get move all video and data out of FCS. This process took about 6 months.

“The media was easy because it was just sitting on an XSAN, the metadata was the important thing”.

Then it was required to move all the video and metadata into the new DAM (Extensis Portflolio Server) this had to be completed in three weeks. Evan worked closely with Digistor to plan out the process allowing for redundancy so it wouldn’t affect production during that time.

“If you look at  the three week period and wonder how can you do that with no impact on production? Well that was due to the very tight work done with Digistor to work out the process and make sure it didn’t impact on our daily production. Our editors were able to keep working throughout the entire process, we had zero downtime” says Evan.

"We were able to effectively modularise each step so there was always redundancy which we could switch over too so that it would never effect the editors.”

The Rollout

Prior to this 50 Kaliber had an existing relationship with Digistor so they seemed like a straight forward choice to work with on this project. When it came to Extensis however it wasn’t so obvious.

“It wasn’t on the radar. There were a number of options but none of them made me sure that they were a worthwhile investment. I was driving to work and my phone beeped with my monthly email newsletter from Digistor saying Portfolio supports video. I was like, hang on that might actually do it."

Evan’s assumptions were also challenged during the many meetings, media tests and software trials preceding the role-out.

"The actual plan of how to get all that media and all that metadata across was helped a lot by Digistor. The way I assumed it would be done was not the way for it to be done, because there is a better way to do it and that came from Digistor."

To make things interesting Evan decided it was also time to upgrade the XSAN as they were reaching about 80% usage of their existing SAN. It was also appealing to have a have a clean system to put all the media onto. 64 new hard drives were installed and Digistor were also able to help them to increase the amount of accessible storage by re partitioning the hard drives.

Evan has been extremely pleased with Extensis Portfolio DAM.

“It works well with other systems. It’s all well and good to have a great piece of software but not if it can’t be used with any other software. Also the ability to change/delete metadata ‘en masse’ is another advantage. I’d misspelled 'Beijing' I was able to find that and fix that up on about 5000 clips at once.”

Evan will be presenting at the “Leveraging Your Digital Media Assets” on the 24th of April in Sydney along with John Parnaby from Extensis.

You can also watch Evan’s presentation at Digistor’s Extensis event in 2011.

To find out more about 50 Kaliber Films visit www.50kaliber.com