For any broadcaster, the goal is zero downtime and Philippines based commercial broadcaster TV5 is no exception. The network recently overhauled its media infrastructure, upgrading its production facilities located in Reliance and Novaliches to EditShare’s collaborative secure EFS shared storage and FLOW media management. As with any big upgrade, the focus is on a smooth phased roll out approach. However, with a global pandemic forcing the world into lockdown and turning traditional production on its head — enabling remote production capabilities near overnight became critical for TV5’s business continuity.
A media island in need of security and collaboration
A subsidiary of telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone company (PLDT), TV5 is one of the Philippines’ three major broadcasters. Over a thousand media professionals are dedicated to creating and delivering news, sports and thematic programming for the Philippine community and beyond. In 2019, TV5 began collaborating on content production and delivery with PLDT subsidiary channels. The goal was to develop entertainment content that could be distributed across their own channels as well as multiple sister networks, including international and digital channels.
Global content distribution on this scale held significant revenue and audience share opportunities, but also presented one major initial challenge. Every production workstation within the TV5 environment was an island with no networked collaborative storage. File sharing, even between two computers in the same room, was done using external hard drives and USB drives.
This had been the case for several years until Angelito R. Salazar Jr. joined the TV5 production team as head of post production in late 2014. He quickly realized the inefficiencies and numerous data security risks waiting to happen.
“Everyone was able to access and remove the files, albeit using inconvenient portable storage,” Salazar said. “It was an unsecured and disconnected way to store files. But what really caught my attention was the potential of hard drive failure. Our workstations are standard computers. The content stored on those drives is valuable and vulnerable. A drive failure or system crash could wipe out millions of files.”
A connected, secure foundation
That scenario triggered TV5’s move toward centralized media management and shared storage. TV5’s first experience with EditShare came in 2016, using a 96-terabyte version of the EFS media optimized file system that according to Salazar, “was a small but very important step in the right direction.” In 2019, the network upgraded to a more fully featured version of the EFS system, mainly for file sharing across its two sites but they quickly realized it could do much more.
The two TV5 sites are approximately 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) apart. Each site is equipped with a variety of older and newer creative solutions including Apple’s Final Cut Pro® 7 and the latest Adobe Creative Cloud® applications running on a mix of Mac and Windows-based systems, all supported by EditShare’s open platform.
TV5 moved the original EditShare storage system to the smaller of the two sites, adding an EFS 40NL node for near-line parking storage of finished projects and content that may need to be repurposed in the short term. The main site installed an enterprise EFS450 model with additional 40NL parking storage nodes. Complementing the tiered storage at both sites was EditShare’s FLOW media management, which includes FLOW Automation and AirFLOW for remote access and production.
All was going according to plan when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting all traditional in- studio and on-location productions on indefinite pause. Fortunately for TV5, the progress the team had already made with EditShare allowed them to easily adapt and quickly pivot into remote production workflows.
Salazar and team had begun using AirFLOW to remotely manage incoming and outgoing content prior to the shutdown. Uploaded content was automatically stored on the EFS shared storage system located at the main site and then automatically replicated to the secondary EFS and available to everyone on the network. As a result, outside producers and advertisers could still submit packages via AirFLOW during the shutdown.
“Everyone immediately saw it was working. Since we started using AirFLOW, it’s actually saved content owners and producers a lot of inconvenience in terms of access and contribution.” Angelito Salazar Jr.
Creating a house format keeps content flowing for remote teams
TV5 uses QuickTime as a common wrapper for its standard DVCPRO-50 production files while its sister channels use MXF. Leveraging FLOW’s automation capabilities, TV5 created a common house format for sharing content across sites and sister channels.
“I asked our sister channels if we could remain on DVCPRO-50 and I would just gear up the container to MXF. We discovered FLOW has the ability to just quickly rewrap files instead of first having to transcode to another format. I gave everyone test files coming from the rewrapping of FLOW Automation and it worked.” Angelito Salazar Jr.
When the lockdown hit, TV5 could no longer produce new shows and had to tap deep into their content archives for program content, which was all saved as QuickTime MOV files. The automated house format file delivery was a gamechanger for the production team sharing program content and overall business continuity.
Secure remote review and approval
EditShare’s end-to-end smart workflow solutions has allowed TV5 to create a secure network enabling the team to remotely access content and facilitate the often extensive review and approval process – a critical element of keeping the operation moving.
EFS user privileges and project sharing capabilities gives TV5 a more secure environment for managing media files. EFS tightly controls access, allowing only authorized users to access content, with all access attempts centrally monitored through the realtime EFS Auditing dashboard. Salazar comments. “Today, if you’re using project sharing with Final Cut Pro, only the authorized people who are editing the program with you can access the content. Before, you just plugged in your USB key ring and took the files you wanted.” Salazar elaborates on the security measures,
“Access is governed by EFS administration with EFS auditing real time tracking for any suspicious behavior. Just recently an important file had been deleted, we were able to quickly track down what happened and have it restored.”
AirFLOW, which is tightly connected with EFS and thus EFS authorized access privileges, provides a secure private network for accessing content and facilitating proxy-based review and approval workflows.
Automating more than 50 manual tasks increase content production by up to 40%
TV5’s automated workflows, which have freed staff from many manual, time intensive tasks, are powered by EditShare’s FLOW Automation.
Working closely with EditShare pre sales team Ee Wah Wong, Salazar estimates TV5 has automated more than 50 processes that were once done manually and streamlined the workflows for an average of 200 files per day ranging from 15 to 90 minutes in length.
“EditShare professional services was key in designing the automated workflows. Ee Wah in particular dug deep into our operation to understand the review, approval and delivery process, helping me create the best possible workflow design.”
Salazar elaborates on the time savings, “With the pandemic, our company increased its content production by 30 to 40 percent. Thanks to FLOW automation the increase did not translate to additional resources. Nor did it add to the current workload.”
As productions begin to return in some form, Salazar and TV5 are confident they are well- equipped for future growth with EditShare’s open, secure and scalable media asset management and shared storage platform.
The TV5 solution was commissioned and installed by EditShare and EditShare sales partner Media Village located in Manila and Singapore.