Fast-Forwarding Tape ConversionNew Crawford Media Services facility designed to speed up process of digitizing old video files 2/21/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
The new 80,000 sq.-ft.
facility that Crawford
Media Services is finishing
up in Atlanta marks an
important technological milestone
for the company, which is
celebrating its 30th anniversary
this year. The company hopes
that the new digs will help rectify
a festering problem in the
television business that has been
around certainly as long as Crawford
itself—the massive libraries
of slowly deteriorating video
tapes sitting on programmers’
shelves around the country.
“You have many companies
and stations that have thousands
of hours of tapes dating
back 20, 30 years that will be
lost if they are not migrated to
digital, because magnetic tape
doesn’t have a long shelf life,” says Steve Davis,
Crawford senior VP.
Content providers such as Hollywood studios
and sports leagues see a clear business model
for converting all this archival content, which
can then be used on a variety of digital platforms,
Blu-rays, DVDs and on-demand offerings.
For example, WWE is completing a massive
conversion process of more than 26,000
hours of archival wrestling footage.
Other programmers, including many local TV
stations, have struggled to find a cost-effective
way to convert their video libraries, a problem
Crawford hopes its new facility will help solve.
To handle the process, the facility offers highcapacity
fiber connectivity to move content in
and out of the building, a high-capacity internal
network, massive storage space, a data center
and proprietary technology for managing the
conversion of old tapes to digital formats.
“We are trying to remove the obstacles to migrating
and storing tapes with an asset management
system that we offer as a hosted service,”
Davis says. That means stations and content companies
don’t have to purchase an expensive system
or make major capital investments in storage.
Meanwhile, the infrastructure for digital asset
management is also playing an increasingly important
role in Crawford’s post-production business,
which has state-of-the-art editing suites in
the company’s new seven-story building.
On its post-production work for the CW’s The
Vampire Diaries and AMC’s The Walking Dead,
Crawford’s staff works overnight on dailies, correcting
for color and converting them to the correct
file format. Then the company uses its fiber links
to send the files “so people in L.A. and around the
country can look at them the next morning,” says
Davis. “It provide services that would be hard for
a stand-alone post house to offer.”
Crawford’s storage and archiving capability
also means “we can offer [programmers]
archiving and remote access to their content,”
which can be easily lost if simply stored on hard
drives, Davis adds.
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