VWSE Productions Turns to Facilis TerraBlocks to Produce Big Screen Content

Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment (VWSE) Productions has gone to Facilis, a Massachusetts-based supplier of shared media storage systems, to produce big screen content both onsite and offsite during major sporting events. VWSE specializes in live sports entertainment and production with an emphasis on in-venue displays and has been embedded at sporting events such as the Kentucky Derby at Churchill downs, The Rose Bowl Game, Notre Dame, USC, and every NCAA championship over the last 10 years.

“We are a turnkey operation when it comes to technical consulting, logistical support, and content production,” said Ryan Kehn, Creative Director at VWSE. “For a given event, we have producers and directors come in, call the script, and direct the crews. We have editors and graphic artists that create pre-packaged segments and editors dropping shots in during the event.”

VWSE Productions has purchased two Facilis 96TB TerraBlock 24D shared storage systems through their reseller Cutting Edge Audio and Video Group for each of its production offices in Studio City, California and Raleigh, North Carolina. The two matching systems replaced older Promise storage drives and other standalone storage solutions. The TerraBlocks became VWSE’s tier 1 shared storage for all editorial work.

VWSE Productions has also purchased a TerraBlock 8D for use as a more portable road server for use offsite, installed in a 14RU rack. Combined with some Blackmagic Design and networking gear, the 8D is converted into a mobile production hub with connectivity via Fiber Channel and Ethernet, depending on the workstation and the environment. VWSE Productions typically takes a team of three to twenty editors depending on the length of an event, and they can be on site at an event for two to three weeks or more.

“We migrated from a solution we came up with which worked great for one or two editors, but as our operation started to expand, we needed to shift our focus to something more portable and versatile, something that could handle the intense loads demanded during major events productions, and the Facilis storage has been solid,” said Kehn.

According to Facilis, a unique feature of its shared storage network is the ability for servers to be seamlessly connected and disconnected whenever one needs to be taken on the road. The editing teams do as much graphics template and feature work as they can in advance of events, with some things then having to wait until the crew is on site at the event. Filming might happen the week leading up to an event and naturally a lot of content is generated on game day.

“Once we get on site at the event, we’re in full production mode, especially for our larger events. We go out well in advance. We’re busy creating templates and generic stuff, like season re-cap pieces, etc,” says Kehn. “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.”

For VWSE, the choice between connecting shared storage via Fiber Channel or Ethernet has come into play. The Studio City office is connected via 10 Gbps Ethernet while the Raleigh office utilizes 8 Gbps Fiber Channel.

For client workstations, the team connects a combination of Mac Pro towers, Mac Book Pros, and HP Z820 workstations to their Facilis systems. The company is an “Adobe house” when it comes to editing and graphics applications, although it also uses Cinema 4D for its 3D work. 

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