In Q1 2014, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) launched the WWE Network, an internet-based subscription video service consisting of a traditionally programmed 24/7 stream and an extensive video-on-demand library. In Q1 2010, as part of the preparation for network launch, Crawford Media Services was selected to digitize, verify, and add descriptive metadata to approximately 26,000 hours of content on 25,484 sources in a period of 15 months. Proving our ability to run efficiently and ahead of schedule, the Crawford LIFT team completed the encoding 3 months early – 12 months – with an average of 2,500 hours of Digital Betacam content or 1,700 hours of U-Matic/One-inch content ingested per month.
Approximately 2,500 tapes were shipped from WWE’s Connecticut headquarters to Atlanta, per month via semi-truck. Once received in Atlanta, the tapes were checked in and verified against a spreadsheet, tape labels and client barcodes. Any discrepancies were reported to the client’s project manager. All sources were inspected to find physical defects and ensure that each tape had a unique identifier.
The project incorporated 10 streams of encoding channels and 2 channels for QC purposes in 3 servers that were connected to a SAN with a distributed file system. The first phase of the project involved the migration of Digital Betacam sources using 10 simultaneous streams. In the second phase, the U-Matic and One-inch sources were digitized using 10 simultaneous streams. A Digital Betacam dub of each of these formats was created in the same pass as ingest.
Encoding operations ran 16 hours a day, 5 days a week and generated 4 to 5 TB of new video files per day. Each source was up-converted to HD and legalized according to HD broadcast specifications. The content on each tape was encoded as a GXF-wrapped MPEG-2, I-Frame @ 70Mbps, 1080i/Pillar boxed 4:3; LPCM 16 bit, 48 kHz file The barcode of each source was scanned prior to encode, partially to ensure file-naming accuracy. Using a combination of different storage and file management systems, data was moved from the SAN to multiple storage servers where redundant copies were written to LTO- 4 tape drives inside an automated Spectra Logic T950 library. The tapes were shipped to the client’s site where they were read back to a storage server’s disk tier. The files were then moved into the client’s SAN system via automated FTP software. Every step of this process was logged and monitored and the digital files were validated by checksums after each move. Once approved, the backup LTO data tapes in Atlanta were reformatted and placed back into the workflow.
One problem encountered during this project was due to the extremely large nature of high bit-rate digital video files. The archive management application vendor had specified the data rate inaccurately, causing problems moving the video files between the different tiers of storage. After installing the combination disk-to-disk-to-tape (LTO) solution onsite, we quickly found that there was a problem in the vendor’s configuration. Our engineers were able to remedy the situation by increasing storage capacity in the middle tier of disk storage, which increased throughput enough to meet or exceed daily ingest goals.
Crawford’s quality control standards were put to the test and verified during the WWE project. WWE staff thoroughly logged each minute of all delivered files and relayed any problems found to Crawford. Over the course of 12 months and nearly 25,000 tapes, Crawford achieved a 99.8% success rate.