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Taking the pain out of collaborative editing by Sean Baker, Technical Director, ERA Ltd B roadcast and post-production companies face the daily challenge of delivering more for less – both in terms of time and money. Whilst the industry has been quick to embrace the efficiencies of file-based workflows and enhancements in the creative editing process, the reality - for companies of all sizes - is that the effective and secure management of media data remains complex and expensive. For those editing in groups - with media entering the studio from many different sources, ingested to different editing platforms and stored on various storage islands - data management in a collaborative environment is even more challenging. In the past, systems to manage media data have been proprietary and therefore expensive. Hence only larger organisations have been able to afford the level of CAPEX investment required and the number of editing seats available to deliver a return on that investment.  Where the cost of proprietary systems has been prohibitive, the management, archive and back-up of data has become a manual and very time- consuming process. Typically, data is ingested on to islands of storage around an organization – to an editor’s workstation, a specific ingest machine, a central I.T. Disk system or, very often, just a USB/Fire wire disk.  The answer for these companies has been to purchase a server/disk system in a traditional IT format.  Shared projects?  Shared pain. Each scenario has its failings.  Most proprietary systems offer central organised storage with guaranteed performance but they do not scale affordably and expose organisations to high upgrade and maintenance costs. They also charge premium rates for the storage necessary to 70 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE support multiple shared projects. Furthermore, proprietary systems are often locked-down, forcing a particular workflow.  As the demand for multi- platform support increases, this lock- down limits ingest options and may require the use of expensive editing suites, with editing islands of Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid or Adobe supported by pools of storage to service them. The alternative of the traditional I.T. Server with storage may offer a good price point, but only partially addresses the problem. Data can be stored in one location but with a lack of organisation or archive procedures, data ultimately becomes hard to find. In addition, server systems can be difficult to configure, requiring specialist support, and as the infrastructure is often used for a multitude of tasks, the high performance required by internal media clients can not be guaranteed. In collaborative editing environments, whether using large proprietary or small IT-server systems, there are further layers of complexity and cost. It remains difficult to manage how limited storage is utilized and guarantee performance.  Shared projects are often exposed to human error and system constraints that hinder the creative benefits of collaboration. It is common for media to disappear, be deleted in error or be shown offline (because, for example, somebody has borrowed that USB drive for another project). The result is frustration and, of course, loss of valuable production time. Agile and secure collaboration. To address these challenges, ERA has launched ERA MediaEdit, a cost-effective platform for secure collaborative editing, to help organisations of all sizes manage shared projects and operational capacity - more efficiently and cost-effectively.   Powered by CandIT Media WARP storage and with FilmPartners’ MXFServer media management at its core, ERA MediaEdit is designed to enable editing workgroups to share and manage virtualised project files securely, with guaranteed high performance and minimal infrastructure costs.  The entry-level configuration supports up to eight clients of Avid, Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere, expands in easy steps, with multi-format ingest from any device, including sixteen simultaneous streams of DNxHD and integration with EVS. It has been designed to run over Gigabit Ethernet to keep infrastructure costs low and its open architecture provides a simple yet cost-effective scale-up-and-out path should editing and business requirements grow. ERA MediaEdit also enables the effective secure management of data and user rights for shared projects, with bin-locking functionality to prevent files or sequences being accidentally overwritten or deleted. It also optimises overall operational performance by allowing both the virtualisation of growing files - Edit Whilst Capture - and the direct ingest of media files from any source into projects without starting up the NLE - freeing up edit suite capacity and making operations more efficient and agile. ERA MediaEdit is a turnkey solution that enables media companies, of all sizes, to handle more jobs, more effectively, with more speed and with less error – freeing up valuable creative resources to do what they do best, and optimizing the benefits of collaboration to secure real strategic advantage in today’s competitive market.