Streamlining a Video Backup Workflow for Online Learning with CatDV

After creating thousands of videos for 65 online courses, the creative professionals at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Silicon Valley were running out of storage space on the university’s 128 TB media server. Their department’s digital asset manager, Sara Brylowski, needed to archive data from completed projects to make room for new ones. Her mission was to build a new creative workflow and optimize asset management to give media creators the resources they need without requiring her IT team to spend more time managing hardware.

To help her design a more efficient workflow, Brylowski turned to Cutting Edge, a top media systems integrator with a specialty in storage and asset management solutions. Cutting Edge recommended replacing the existing storage with a Facilis TerraBlock 128 TB media storage solution, which is built specifically for editing high-definition video and supporting creative collaboration.

Managing a Growing Library of Assets with Quantum CatDV
Once the media server was in place, Brylowski’s focused on finding the right media asset management (MAM) solution for organizing the department’s diverse and growing library of assets: video shot in studio, B-roll, licensed images, and audio from multiple sources. “We specifically wanted something that would handle more kinds of media than a traditional DAM [digital asset management system],” says Brylowski. “Most of them are built for marketing and not video production.”

CatDV was a clear choice. “It had the features we needed at the best price point,” says Brylowski. “Other MAMs have more bells and whistles, but they cost 3 to 4 times more.”

Providing Fast, Direct Access to a Cloud Archive with CatDV Integration
One of the key features that CatDV offered was integration with cloud storage for archiving. Brylowski considered both Backblaze B2 and Amazon S3—both were proven solutions that were fully integrated with CatDV as well as other software. Brylowski ultimately chose Backblaze because its pricing made it a fraction of the cost of Amazon S3.

Brylowski set up three Backblaze buckets: a backup bucket for protecting active files, an archive for storing infrequently used assets, and a library for the masters of completed videos. Then a team from Cutting Edge helped connect the buckets to CatDV.

When a new course goes live, its build files are cataloged in CatDV and then moved to the Backblaze archive bucket. Proxies or thumbnails for archived assets still appear alongside the online assets in the CatDV interface.

Retrieval is surprisingly fast. “Until they use it, the editors worry it will take hours to pull assets from the archive. But it only takes a minute,” says Brylowski.

Protecting Content from Ingest to Archive
With B2, Brylowski is able to back up just the volumes currently under production. Right before post-production begins, she sets up a sync in SyncBackPro, which mirrors the project’s folder structure and work-in-process files in the B2 cloud bucket. The mirrored folder structure on B2 simplifies restoring files that are inadvertently deleted on the media server.

Freeing Up Storage for New Projects
With the CatDV and B2 solution in place, Brylowski is actively freeing up storage on the media server by cataloging and archiving content for previously completed courses. By managing storage more efficiently, the department won’t have to increase the capacity on its media server as video production increases. And unlike the media server, the B2 archive can grow indefinitely.

As Cutting Edge CEO Brian Botel explains, “We recognized that UCSC needed a sophisticated and reliable asset management workflow with cloud archive at a competitive price point. CatDV enabled us to orchestrate file movement throughout the full content creation lifecycle, from the Facilis media server to a B2 cloud archive, that can limitlessly scale on demand.”

Reducing Costs, Staying Focused on Creative Processes
The new, integrated solution has allowed the department to move the video team’s data from the standard backup solution that the rest of the university employs. As a result, the university can significantly reduce costs for off-site storage.

In addition, the integrations among CatDV, Facilis, and Backblaze have allowed the internal IT staff to be largely hands-off with video data. “Previously we were using a blanket solution to back up our data, but our current trio of solutions allows us to go in with a scalpel and only retain the objects that we want to save,” says Brylowski. “We’re able to manage it all within our team and not burden our IT staff with managing a different workflow for just our department.”

The biggest value of the new workflow is that the department no longer has to worry about whether its content is protected and readily available. “With this workflow, we can manage our content within its lifecycle and at the same time have reliable backup storage for the items we know we’re going to want in the future,” says Brylowski. “That’s allowed us to concentrate on creating videos, not managing storage.”