Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Selects DDN as Heart of “Central Storage” Media Project
Owner of NBA Raptors and NHL Maple Leafs Implements Digital Workflow to Enhance Customer Viewing Experience
NAB SHOW, LAS VEGAS — April 21, 2009 — DataDirect Networks, Inc. (DDN) the data infrastructure provider for the most extreme, content-intensive environments in the world, today announced that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), has selected the DDN xStreamScalerTM File Storage System to power its digital workflow. MLSE, owner and operator of the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL® team, Raptors NBA® team, FC MLS® team, Marlies AHL® team, Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV, as well as the Air Canada Centre — home to both the Raptors and Maple Leafs, wanted to create a central media repository to store and archive all of its digital broadcasting workflow — from production and ingest through editing, post-production and play-out. The “Central Storage” project would encompass digitizing over 11,000 hours of video tape, eliminating multiple storage islands and streamlining content into a single centralized storage repository, making it easier to manage, archive and repurpose content for additional revenue-generating activities.
The “Central Storage” project needed a storage system that could support a wide variety of ingest devices, editing stations running Apple® Final Cut Pro® and Avid®, as well as play-out servers from Harris®. The solution also needed to integrate with a digital asset management (DAM) system, which would be implemented during the second phase of the project. Lastly, it needed to enable full connectivity and content sharing between heterogeneous systems, allowing them to work simultaneously, at full speed, without dropping frames or causing delays.
MLSE implemented the xStreamScaler File Storage System, based on the DDN S2A9900 storage platform, a high-performance, high-capacity storage solution, enabling real-time workflows and long-term content archiving.
“We wanted to build an infrastructure that would enable MLSE to provide the ultimate experience for our fans,” said Drew Kikauka, Broadcasting Engineering Supervisor and Central Storage Project Lead. “We needed a high density, high capacity system that would replace our video library but would also scale and give us room to grow. We considered other broadcast-focused systems such as Isilon, Omneon and Avid but DDN offered a pay-as-you-grow architecture which would allow us to simply add capacity and/or performance as needed. DDN’s solution not only met our price, performance and density requirements, but also provided the data protection and energy efficiency we were looking for.”
MLSE operates three television channels, two in SD and the third in HD, and has a fourth going live later this year. The broadcasting workflow at MLSE includes 10 editing bays running Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid and Harris Nexio servers for play-out. The DDN xStreamScaler serves as the central storage repository for all video and audio content.
“The DDN system was designed to be our central storage for everything media related within our company,” said Kikauka. “From Web and cell phone media, video server files, graphics, content creation, audio files, anything to do with broadcast to the jumbotron and digital signage in the arena, it is all stored in one central location so we can manage it easily. That was the vision we had for the project and DDN is at the heart of it.”
Having all the content in one place has dramatically improved efficiencies since all content is available immediately and all in a single namespace. MLSE‘s editors are able to create and collaborate easily and produce content more quickly, including publishing more content to the web at Raptors.com and Mapleleafs.com.
“We have some of the most active web sites of any NBA or NHL team,” said Kikauka. “Any footage that we can’t fit into our broadcast schedule, such as extra interviews or bonus footage, we will publish it to the web site and it is all pushed through the DDN system. On an average day, we will publish 40 clips, per team, making a much more dynamic experience for viewers. We’re trying to lead the other teams with these initiatives and I think our Web sites are proof of that.”
The centralized storage environment also supports a new field acquisition process, utilizing file-based cameras and single camera operators instead of traditional broadcasting crews for a number of international sports events. As a file-based workflow leveraging Internet connectivity for content transfers, production costs are drastically reduced and the file-based content is available immediately for further editing and play-out.
“With the DDN xStreamScaler , it is a file-based copy so we are able to ingest content 8x faster than with traditional video tape and we don’t have to spend time trying to find a specific tape and insert it into a VTR,” said Kikauka. “And since the files are digital we no longer have to create duplicate tapes so we are able to save about $100,000 a year in tape purchases.”
The high density of the DDN solution enables MLSE to store all content, roughly 280 terabytes and growing every year, on the smallest amount of square footage of any vendor considered for this project – and provides the ability to scale the digital media library for many years. This eliminates the need to expand the datacenter to accommodate traditional, lower density storage systems.
MLSE will also implement DDN’s Dynamic MAID technology, an easy, transparent mechanism to spin down disks that are not in use, dramatically lowering the power consumption and cooling requirements of disk-based content repositories.
Having successfully completed the first phase of the project and beginning to execute phase two, evaluating and implementing a DAM system, Kikauka reflects, “The xStreamScaler has been one of those products that we’ve been able to install and pretty much forget about it. That has been my favorite part about this project, considering all the things we have tried to install and integrate, the DDN system has been an absolute dream in the sense that it runs so well I keep forgetting it is even there.”