Universal Studios Sound has 18 mix rooms and stages, and is located on one of the largest studio lots in the world. As a full service post-production sound facility, Universal Studios Sound handles features, television and trailers, along with animation and gaming. It offers sound editorial and design, mixing, Foley, ADR and transfer plus digital mastering, preservation, restoration and archival services. In addition to work done for Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Sound’s services are in high demand by third party productions as well.
Having multiple stages and edit suites, Universal Studios Sound required a more efficient, secure, enterprise-wide solution for its storage needs in its mix stages. Each fully digital mix stage has multiple Digidesign Pro Tools workstations for playback and recording, as well as additional systems for video playback.
“Our clients are usually in a time-critical situation and so we need our workflow to be as efficient as possible to meet their requirements,” says Doc Goldstein, vice president of Post-Production Engineering at Universal Studios Sound. “In addition, we take security very seriously; we want to make sure their content is as secure as we can make it. So we knew we needed to look to the future and a more robust storage solution.”
SNS SANmp GUI
Jeff Taylor, chief engineer of Post-Production Sound, began to detail a department wide Fibre Channel storage solution. He worked closely with his engineering team to develop a comprehensive requirement specification for the system. After carefully evaluating their current and future requirements, Universal Studios Sound called upon Studio Network Solutions, who partnered with Los Angeles-based reseller Audio Intervisual Design (AID), to design and build a robust Fibre Channel storage solution that would enable them to easily store, share and move media assets in a secure manner. The solution for the soundstages comprises more than 80 seats of SANmp with Fibre Channel switches and 12 IBM DS4200 Enterprise class storage arrays.
“It was critical that we have a system that is reliable and designed to be fault-tolerant,” Taylor says. “We could not afford to have a system that could break and bring down the entire department. Our customers rely on us to get their work done quickly and safely. In addition, we wanted a solution that had local support, again due to the 24/7 timeframe associated with our industry. We did a lot of testing, and SNS met our criteria for both Macintosh and Windows platforms. That, coupled with the local support of AID and SNS, made us feel comfortable with our decision and future direction.”
Universal Studios Sound has deployed the new system throughout its three main buildings—first in the BluWave Audio building and then in the Hitchcock and Mancini buildings. The goal was to connect everyone in the stages, suites and departments to this architecture and have them be a part of one large fabric, the largest in the studio’s history. The Digital Mastering group, which handles all of the after-market product/post-production—such as home video, DVD, foreign language mixes—is now able to consolidate all of its working media into one location with a single copy rather than multiple copies. The SNS solution has extended this efficiency and security to both television and features, and was deployed so that any user in any location in the department can see any storage volume.
“By using a central, secure storage location, we are able to eliminate the need for multiple copies which speeds workflow and heightens security of our client’s intellectual property,” Goldstein says.
Universal Studios Sound has uses the SNS storage solution on television shows such as House, The Office, Heroes, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and features such as Wanted, The Express, Flash of Genius, and The Incredible Hulk.
On April 22, during the NAB convention in Las Vegas, SNS will be at the Studio at the Palms offering drinks, appetizers and demonstrations of EVO and the new SANmp V3. SNS will be in Studio X (located in the Fantasy Tower on the third floor) from noon until 8 p.m. For more information or to make an appointment for a demonstration, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.