Norfolk Southern keeps its assets on track with CatDV
“CatDV has become a multi-faceted tool that can be likened to a one-stop footage-shop”
Pamela Tripp, who handles digital asset management and media library duties for Norfolk Southern.
Norfolk Southern (www.nscorp.com) is a premier US freight rail transportation company, operating approximately 20,000 route miles across 22 states in the Eastern US, and the District of Columbia. Its busy and award-wining media department, located at its Training Center in McDonough, Georgia, produces a wide variety of corporate and promotional projects, with CatDV asset management facilitating a fast and streamlined production and post-production workflow.
Norfolk Southern serves every major container port in the eastern US, as well as providing efficient connections to other rail carriers. It is a major transporter of coal, wood, consumer goods, grain and cars, to name just a few staples of human existence that pass through its system on any given day.
The company operates a full-service production facility, which turns out close to 150 programs a year. It works on a wide variety of projects – safety messages, training and educational programs, music videos, commercials – and has won numerous Telly Awards for its work. The facilities include a broadcast-ready studio with NewTek TriCaster, plus an internal television station (NSTV), with five edit suites using Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere, three camera/lighting/sound packages, extensive legacy equipment in a range of HD formats, with CatDV Enterprise and WebClient software to manage the assets.
“We frequently work on location, shooting railroad operations, and at times we gather footage for multiple projects at once,” says Pamela Tripp, who handles digital asset management and media library duties for Norfolk Southern. “Keeping all our stock footage organized and easily available is of the utmost importance. CatDV has made it so simple for us to find, retrieve and deliver footage we need.”
The challenge: moving from tape & paper logging to full digital asset management
“We have literally, tens of thousands of assets that have accumulated over many years,” says Tripp. “Before we introduced CatDV in 2010 our asset management process came down to careful tape labelling, paper logs, and a database in Access and then Excel. It fulfilled our general need to select and retrieve digital assets, and whilst we got through, we knew we really needed to find a much more efficient way to keep ourselves organized.
“But, at that time, the concept of digital asset management was relatively unheard of, as the digital age was still a foreign country to be navigated and charted.”
The solution: multiple CatDVPro enterprise and CatDV WebClient licenses
Tripp says that friends at NASCAR introduced her and the team at Norfolk Southern to the capabilities of the CatDV program, and that a purchase quickly followed.
“I hate to say it, but I’m not sure we ever thoroughly investigated any other options, and with hindsight I’m not sure we would have needed to, as CatDV has been excellent,” she admits.
Today, Norfolk Southern manages its considerable stockpile of assets using ten seats of CatDVPro Enterprise Edition and five CatDV WebClient seats. Its CatDV systems run across both Mac and PC workstations, and are connected to a 36TB SAN Facilis Terrablock via Fiber and GB Ethernet, giving the production and editorial teams full access to RAW camera footage and the full media library. CatDV is also attached, via the server, to a NewTek TriCaster live production system in the studio area. An off-site back-up of the server is controlled by the company’s IT department.
“We use CatDV daily,” says Tripp. “Editors search for stock footage, and we also maintain an in-depth media library of completed programs that various departments can search, via the CatDV WebClient, for their instructional design. I also work extensively with the legal department and provide materials to them using CatDV for litigation.”
Although Tripp cannot quantify precise savings of time and money using CatDV, she does say, “Over time CatDV has saved us thousands of dollars as we no longer have to physically ship materials. It has saved us countless hours too of physically hunting for footage on tapes. Past shoots may not be so fresh in the minds of the editors, and CatDV makes it easy to find those clips that an off-site editor may need – and all I have to do is export them, upload to our FTP site – and that’s that. It has reduced the legwork and expense of delivering footage quite dramatically.”
Commenting on CatDV’s capabilities and features, Tripp remarks, “The best and most advantageous aspects of CatDV are in the customization of the user interface to suit our ever-changing needs. We haven’t yet quite delved into the more sophisticated operations and automations that CatDV offers (such as the extensive use of the Worker Node functions and promoting the WebClient), but as our workflow advances, so will the need for those automations – so we’re looking forward to experimenting. The CatDV WebClient is a huge asset to us as well.”
Tripp also applauds the on-going product support that has been received, and the recent release of online support materials. “On the whole, support has been great. The folks at Squarebox are delightful, as is our local technical rep from CTG Atlanta. CatDV is a very sophisticated program, the surface of which we’ve only begun to scratch, so the new training and support materials that are now being published online will be very helpful in addressing our evolving needs.”
When asked what she would say to anyone else considering their asset management options with CatDV, Tripp says, “I would say by all means proceed. The capabilities of customization are top-notch, the price is right, and it seems the most user-friendly of what is available today. Even the least tech-savvy individuals can operate the program and will find what they are looking for. For us, CatDV has become a multi-faceted tool that can be likened to a one-stop footage-shop.”
Rail images courtesy Norfolk Southern.