Adventures in File Transfer: Crawford's Transformed Workflow
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A Georgia state tax credit is at the center of a growing surge in episodic television production in the Atlanta area. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies spending $500,000 or more on production and post-production in the state (on a single or multiple projects). An additional 10 percent credit is available if the finished product includes a promotional logo from the state.
The benefit is being hailed as a boon to both the production industry and the state, with producers like Broderick Johnson of “The Blind Side” calling it “one of the best in the country.” (Variety)
Companies like Crawford Media Services are both benefitting from and buoying this incentive-fueled growth in Georgia, identifying and investing in new technologies that let them meet the rising demand for creative film services. Based in Atlanta, Crawford is an Emmy and Peabody Award winning provider of end-to-end creative and post-production services.
One of Crawford's edit suites
The company also provides solutions for mass migration of legacy content to digital formats, storage and archiving, media asset management and metadata services. As popular shows have increasingly come into the region for production, Crawford’s client base has grown to include well-known television titles like “Vampire Diaries,” “The Walking Dead” and “Devious Maids.” (For more, see Crawford's IMDb page.)
Just a few of Crawford's clients
And even while focused primarily on projects being shot in the Atlanta area, production companies managing those series are in locations including Hollywood, South America, and more.
As demand for Crawford’s services grew, the company found that increasing volumes of high-resolution video files were placing unreasonable demand on their file transfer technology. With their FTP solution falling short when it came to reliably sending and receiving files, Crawford turned to a new technology partner, Signiant, and its Media Shuttle file transfer solution.
Crawford’s workflow using the Media Shuttle SaaS solution is simply defined: two customized portals (web interfaces)– one “Share” and one “Send” – govern the transfer of data between the production and post-production teams.
The Share portal leads directly to Crawford’s in-house media asset management platform, Engage. “Clients upload their media on a continuous basis using the Share portal,” says Ron Heidt, senior editor and technical director for Crawford Media Creative Services. “As soon as it lands on our end, it’s immediately automatically transcoded to a proxy format, and the hi-res assets are moved into long-term archive storage. It’s easy for us, and easy for the client.”
Ron Heidt, senior editor and technical director for Crawford Media Creative Services
Media delivered through the Share portal is fully secure, with flexible, client-defined access for members of their teams, with each user owning a specific home directory that serves as the sole landing location for their content.
The same Share portal is used to deliver the content back to the client as needed. An emailed link alerts pre-designated members of the team that the file is ready for download. With a click, the file is back on the desktops of the designated production team members.
“We use the Send portal more often, though,” says Ron, since the Send portal governs the two-way daily transfer of data between the production and post-production teams. “We take the raw footage from episodic television shot here, we get it into a manageable format, do offline editorial for their review, and then we use Media Shuttle’s Send portal to send all of their Avid dailies material back to them, wherever in the world they’re located.”
One of Crawford's customized Signiant Media Shuttle portals
Whether sent via Media Shuttle’s Send or Share portals, Crawford’s Engage provides a secure, responsive web interface with features including an advanced HTML player, integrated notes and transcripts, permissions management, client-defined metadata schema, and project support for clients using Avid Media Composer and Symphony, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Apple Final Cut Pro, and more.
Inside Crawford Media Services
So how much media is being shared each day between Crawford and its clients via Signiant Media Shuttle? Depending on the day’s production, 150-200 GB is typical. “The files themselves may not be huge,” says Ron, “mostly in the 3-4GB range – but the number of them adds up.”
The file transfer speed is limited only by the download speed of the film location, since speed isn’t a problem for Crawford. They’re connected directly to a carrier-neutral backbone that provides them with speeds rated at 6.2 Tbps.
Media Shuttle also has no file size limit, which is reassuring to the Crawford team, who routinely share files in the 8-9 GB range. And the portal now allows for unlimited users, making the solution even more useful to the Crawford team.
“We used to be limited by the number of users we could have at one time – but now users can be easily added, and share content right away,” says Ron.
With the surge in activity Crawford has seen in recent years as Atlanta has attracted more production, the two-portal approach has brought simplicity and clarity to Crawford’s file transfer process. The team now knows exactly what to expect when it comes to sending and receiving the data they need to stay on pace.
Supported by this solution, Crawford is poised for the continued growth Atlanta expects to see from the Entertainment Industry Investment Act. “Signiant Media Shuttle just works,” says Ron. “We used to use FTP for everything, and now we use Signiant for everything. It’s made a huge difference for us.”