Published on June 23, 2016 Updated June 24, 2016

H2O Productions, May 24, 2016

Meeting with Benedict Degornet (Head Post Production) about the workflow set up around the AVID and CatDV solutions.

Hello Benoit, could you please introduce yourself, tell us how long you have worked at H2O and what is your role?

I have worked at H2O for a year and I am officially in charge of post-production; I am the technical supervisor for all post production i.e. all edits that are made ​​within the H2O building – daily programmes such as “Touche Pas à Mon Poste”, “Touche Pas à Mon Sport,” “La Grosse Émission Pour Comédie”, all “the Best of”, prime time TPMP and some specials during the year.

What kind of equipment have you set up at H2O since your arrival; what are the needs for programs that you mentioned?

We have eight editing suites that are connected to shared storage, Avid ISIS 32TB with a 32TB expansion chassis.

We also have two stations on Mac graphics with After Effects connected to the ISIS and an assistant dedicated to the management of exports and of all the different media to deliver to the channel ingest. DID has set up CatDV MAM which is the heart of the system and an archive system PresSTORE with a Quantum Scalar I40 LTO. CatDV is the database that manages the entire system.

On the other hand, we had a data flow problem with our Avid ISIS storage, it was a bandwidth issue rather than a storage one. In fact, when 15 stations were reading and writing at the same time it was essential to find a solution for increasing the bandwidth and that’s what we did with DID adding a chassis 32 TB ISIS. We have not encountered the problem since we doubled the bandwidth. Previously, when there had been excessive system demand, large storage had been the problem!

You trusted DID to work with you on this project, how long have you been working with DID and how has it worked out? 

Philippe Stoltz, reached out to DID technology and we
have trusted them to implement all our complete MAM solution and all associated development work, such as the PresSTORE archive on a Quantum LTO library and Avid ISIS shared storage to improve our additional bandwidth. The CatDV solution was chosen for its simplicity and modular construction; at first I had studied several alternatives but with hindsight and today’s operational needs, we realised that it was the most appropriate and most relevant for H2O. This solution is a pleasure to use and has a “Swiss army knife” side to it and that is very significant. As as result it is easy to adapt our tool because CatDV offers countless opportunities.

Would you say today that the solution is functional? Are you satisfied with the installation by DID, does it work according to your wishes?

Absolutely, the solution works perfectly and saves a lot of time. You mustn’t forget that we’ve come a long way, because at the level of cataloging and indexing of our files, we were starting from scratch; everything was on external drives that were moved “from right to left“ with simple Excel documents for finding projects …

These Excel documents enabled us to know what each hard drive contained when we were looking for something such as archaeology; now we have a tool that allows us to access all images quickly and easily. CatDV performs very well for our daily work and it is a very important part of H2O. There is also an extremely important part in the management of our heritage.

In making “The Best of” show, having a quick overview of our productions, to be able select the best material and to edit in record time is now a pleasure thanks to the CatDV configuration. This saved us a lot time.

DID advised us, we followed their advice, implemented their specifications and had a high quality result.

So is CatDV a work-aid and an essential tool in H2O?

Absolutely, it is used daily and is also used in the sale of programme extracts of “the Best of”; without our CatDV MAM, production would become a nightmare and now it is a pleasure to manufacture Best of!

You use an Avid ISIS shared storage with edit stations from another manufacturer; is that the configuration stable, would you recommend this to your colleagues? 

I have already recommended this to others. In a year of activity with a two-chassis Avid ISIS, I have not had a single problem. Given the critical production times and programme distribution which must be done very quickly, we are faced with timing that is very very very short. We need a powerful tool and Avid ISIS is a great help.

What is your view on backing up media, and archiving in general, do you have any preferences? 

My previous experience has always focused on LTO. At Duran systems I had previously been using Retrospect with DAT tapes. We made Pro Tools sessions and archived them to tape. LTO tape has high durability and for me it is the most reliable solution. It is used for long term archiving.

How much media have you had to archive and on what media? 

One Terabyte archive a week, that is to say 40 TB for a year. In fact we archive 80TB because we choose to make a duplicate copy. We must not forget that it is the heritage of the Company that is at stake. We wanted to have a version of the archive at the H2O offices and another version located in a secure storage place. The Quantum Library is equipped with 2 players and I’ve been satisfied with it over one year of use. I recommend it to my colleagues. No worries at the moment; there are 40 slots available and I have a license to use 24. It is well made because I put a cartridge in slot 25 and of course it was not readable. It was only the next day that I realized that I had put it in a slot was not activated; there is some human error at times but it’s rarely technical problems.

Regarding the technical support hotline, interventions, what makes hardware support? What do you want from DID, are you satisfied?

 All the support, maintenance, operation assistance and on-site is provided by DID; advice too … In general I prefer to entrust all to the same company; so I have both an interesting financial burden and nobody can pass the buck by saying that the problem is in the other. I have always been satisfied by DID and deadlines are met; they respond to my problems and the responses are always appropriate.

How do you see the evolution of your equipment and formats in H2O?

In terms of format I do not see any major changes in the four to five years to come.

At H2O, I can not imagine it, although I could be wrong, that D8 may want to switch to a different format than HD. Strictly speaking, a channel such as Canal Plus might want to do but we are on an incoming tide of television and we must hold on to standard broadcast formats. There are no plans for now to move to 4K. Probably we will upgrade the machines to make the edit suites more powerful. An interesting challenge would be to improve our image quality and to have on our premises an additional calibration solution, with a calibration screen and a performance calibration desk. For some programs this would be of significant benefit. We still have some shows that are externally edited due to a space problem; Unfortunately, Adobe Premiere software causes problems for multi-cam users. Productions such as “l’Oeuf ou la Poule” (“the chicken or the egg”) which face Le Plain Saint Denis require multiple workflows as we always prefer external post production.

What is your goal and how you see the evolution of H2O for 5 years? 

After a year of work for H20 I have officially decided to leave for new adventures. My replacement who I am looking to train is called Cedric Fritz.


Cedric Benedict has said that you’ll replace him from mid August, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself?

I worked for six years on light entertainment shows including that of Lawrence Ruquier where I was in charge of post-production; I had no formal responsibility for post production but I learned a lot. After this, I headed up the main post-production team for 3 years. In the main team we did a lot of Reality TV such as “les anges de la réalité, Allô Nabilla, Friends trip, Hollywood girls” with lots of variations.

We had an infrastructure comprising 13 editing rooms internally that increased to 15 during my visit, mainly running Final Cut. Then we went on Avid Media composer to manage a larger portion of the rushes, as Reality TV requires the handling of a very large amount of Rushes.

So having taken care of the technical and management facilities there, I have now arrived at H2O for new adventures.

Currently, I’m getting my bearings and I have not yet seen all the operating systems, especially the MAM, archiving and how things are organized.

There are improvements ahead and I wonder if we will develop additional edit suites in-house, or if we will go externally because we lack space. I’m looking to assess what I could possibly improve in October. For now I’m still getting my bearings.

Interview by Jean-Michel Bouvet