Q&A with Ryan Kehn, Creative Director at Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment Productions
Q: Tell us about VWSE
RK: We specialize in live sports entertainment and production with an emphasis on in-venue displays. If you find yourself at a live sporting event watching a video board display, it’s almost guaranteed that VWSE Productions is providing the content for that, as well as the ribbon and auxiliary boards. We are involved in the largest and most prominent sporting events in the world. For the last 10 years, we have been embedded at Churchill Downs (the Kentucky Derby), The Rose Bowl Game, Notre Dame, USC, and every NCAA championship.
We don't just handle the content. We also frequently conceptualize the show, write the scripts, provide control room solutions and crew the event with producers, directors, camera operators, and editors in preparation of the event and on game day. So when it comes to technical consulting, logistical support, and content production, we truly are a turnkey operation.
Q: What do you do for storage?
RK: Last year, we purchased two Facilis 96TB TerraBlock 24D shared storage systems through our reseller Cutting Edge Audio and Video Group for each of our production offices in Studio City, California and Raleigh, NC. The two matching systems replaced our older Promise storage drives and other standalone storage solutions. The TerraBlocks became our tier 1 shared storage for all editorial work. When we started to look for a more portable solution for use offsite, we decided to purchase a TerraBlock 8D for use as a road server.
It's installed in a 14RU rack, the 8D, along with some Blackmagic Design and networking gear, so it's become a mobile production hub when we’re on the road, with connectivity via Fibre Channel and Ethernet, depending on the workstation and the environment. We typically take a team of between three and twenty editors depending on the length of an event, and we can be on site at an event for two to three weeks or more.
Q: Describe your workflow both at home and when you are on the road
RK: The production offices in Studio City and Raleigh are active all year long, so when the team is not at an event we’re back in the office at our main production houses. Most or all of the pre-production editing work happens at those offices on our two Facilis 24D systems. The editing teams do as much graphics template and feature work as they can in advance of events, with some things obviously having to wait until the crew is on site at the event.
When it’s time to travel offsite for production, we’ll copy all the files we need from a project folder on the 24D over to the 8D rack and ship it out to the venue 4 or 5 days before we actually get on a flight. Once we get on site at the event, we’re in full production mode, especially for our larger events. There, we’re busy creating templates and generic stuff, like season re-cap pieces. The real heavy-duty production doesn’t start until a week prior to the event once the details of the event are finalized. At that point, we essentially have a week and a half to get the rest of the show together, including all the team or athlete content, hype videos, music videos, interview pieces, plus all the graphics and multiple renditions of those graphics. It’s a really condensed timeline for some events.
Then once we come back with the 8D, we offload the material either directly back onto a 24D and wipe the 8D, or it goes, straight to our tier 2 storage and LTO archive, depending on the event. Being able to easily connect/disconnect the 8D to our shared storage network is a great plus.
Q: What do you think of your TerraBlocks?
When you are working under such tight timelines, we demand that all our equipment be reliable, and easy to deploy and maintain. We have a lot of users connected to our systems at any given time. Maybe 6 heavy users on either Fibre or 10gig copper at any one time and our producers also connect over Ethernet as well. We demand a lot from our systems, and don’t have time for any problems. The reliability and flexibility of the TerraBlock systems has been good for us.
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