Christian Broadcasting Network Drives International Content with Facilis TerraBlock

96TB TerraBlock shared storage system helps CBN manage customization of content for global distribution

Facilis, a leading international supplier of cost-effective, high performance shared storage systems and dynamic workflow solutions for the film, broadcast and AV markets, today announced that the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) is relying on a 96TB TerraBlock shared storage system to handle a wide range of content for global distribution in multiple languages.

Founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in 1961, CBN is a television network and production company focused on Christian-oriented programming. Over the years, CBN has expanded its content and services, now reaching thousands of people worldwide on a daily basis.

“Last year we broadcast programming to 147 countries, in 41 languages from Mandarin to Spanish, Turkish to Welsh,” says Michael Trauffer, senior video editor at CBN’s international department that prepares a wide range of content for global distribution in multiple languages.

One of CBN’s most popular productions is the Superbook® series, which brings Bible stories to animated life. The long standing anime-style series has been broadcast in more than 100 countries, translated into more than 40 languages, and viewed by more than 500 million people over the years. Today a new, reimagined Superbook® series for today’s 3D-appreciative audience is currently in production at CBN’s Virginia facility.

“The Superbook® team works here, in Virginia Beach. They produce an episode and then give my group the finished product. We re-dub the programs or have them dubbed in the native country, and we build the final international masters here. We customize the shows per language, per distributor,” explains Trauffer.

It’s no small operation, and Superbook® is just one of many CBN productions. To reliably and efficiently handle all that data required for the customization and master generation, the network uses a Facilis TerraBlock shared-storage system.

With the help of Virginia-based systems integrator, Digital Video Group, CBN installed a 96TB TerraBlock shared storage system. The objective was to have a cost-effective solution that was stable and affordable.

“We selected the Facilis TerraBlock system because, among other reasons, they were budget-friendly,” says Trauffer, the primary administrator for the TerraBlock system. “We got a lot of performance and a lot of storage for our dollar, compared to other systems.”

With the installation of the Facilis system, the International department has reaped a number of advantages – and at the top of the list is flexibility. “We have Mac and Windows users all accessing the same volumes simultaneously, and all are connected through the TerraBlock Manager,” says Trauffer. “We’re all talking over Ethernet.”

“With TerraBlock, we never have to deal with file permission problems as both Mac and Windows users can read and write simultaneously to any and all volumes. TerraBlock has provided a very stable platform in this regard,” says Trauffer.

Stability is another big advantage. Trauffer cites the often-used phrase to describe the Facilis equipment: Set it, forget it. “Everyone is working, and everyone is happy. The system is tough,” he says.

Another plus for Trauffer and his team is the ease of administration that is associated with the TerraBlocks. “I am by no means an IT expert, yet I’m able to help maintain a mission-critical production system,” he says. “And, the technical support staff at Facilis has been extremely reliable and helpful.”

Currently, there are approximately 80 workstations running Adobe Premiere and Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7 (which is being phased out) that connect to the TerraBlock system. A Mac Pro connects via Fibre Channel and serves as a nearline storage server. According to Trauffer, it serves two major functions. First, it hosts a Telestream Episode encoding system. Second, they use StorageDNA’s DNA Sync media synchronization engine to clone certain TerraBlock volumes to a backup RAID pool. “This allows for a volume or file to be restored in case of accidental deletion,” he explains.

CBN masters its primary domestic programming in XDCAM HD, which is the house format. “That’s what all our I/O systems, our servers, here at CBN are configured for. But our group at International uses multiple flavors,” says Trauffer. For instance, Superbook masters at ProRes 4444, and the group can stream multiple versions over Ethernet to multiple suites. “We’ve used ProRes LT too, but we don’t do a lot of uncompressed video, mainly because of the concern for storage space,” he adds.

Trauffer cannot be more pleased with the TerraBlock systems, a decision he has never regretted making. “It has been a very wise investment from my point of view because it gave us a large amount of fast, reliable storage at a reasonable price. CBN will be utilizing Facilis systems well into the future.”

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