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Case Study: GMU-TV employs pro gear for its programming


FAIRFAX, VA — George Mason University Television, or GMU-TV,( http://gmutv.gmu.edu), develops original HD programming that airs to audiences in Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland, as well as in more than a million homes nationwide through online streaming. Supported by a six-person creative staff, an in-house engineer and student interns, the station produces everything from live campus event broadcasts and promotional pieces to distance education video materials and original programs like “Studio A” http://vimeo.com/channels/studioa and “Urban Education.” http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhOjtRWbRpUK0K0Ua-1jsvv5SPdaobVn0

To keep audiences engaged and produce a large volume of high-quality content within tight deadlines, GMU-TV’s team depends on a broadcast studio equipped with high-end production and post technology. At the center of its setup is a 72TB Facilis TerraBlock shared storage system, which replaced the team’s former storage solution earlier this year. The TerraBlock is connected via Fibre Channel to six Mac edit suites running Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Apple Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Creative Suite 6.

Providing increased capacity, bandwidth and speed, TerraBlock has enabled GMU-TV’s team to keep pace with an overwhelming project delivery schedule. GMU-TV director of engineering Tim Caldecott said, “Our old system slowed us down and was a nightmare. Now, we can keep everything in the same place without a drop in speed or performance, even if TerraBlock is close to full capacity. It’s been a big time-saver.”


Tim Caldecott

A few years back, GMU invested in several new computers that ran beautifully upon installation, but once the team connected them to GMU’s older storage system, the computers slowed down. Today, with TerraBlock those computers are running like new again. “It’s awesome to see those computers moving fast again now that they’re connected to the TerraBlock,” shared GMU-TV senior. producer and director Amanda Kraus.

“When you sit down to edit, you want to be able to work, and that wasn’t as easy before TerraBlock. With our old system, it was hard to complete a thought when I was working at an edit bay. There were constant issues with the system and I wasted a lot of time troubleshooting issues with my system as well as other editors’ systems,” she added. “Performance and reliability used to be two of our biggest concerns, but now they’re of no consequence.”

Everyday tasks that formerly proved painstaking have become seamless for GMU-TV as a result of TerraBlock’s intuitive user interface. Caldecott and Kraus can easily add users, mount volumes and access files as needed. “TerraBlock pretty much runs itself,” explained Kraus. “That’s how I like it, especially if I’m responsible for it. I want to work with equipment that is easy to understand, use and fix.”

With TerraBlock in place, the GMU-TV team rests assured that its data is protected and that it can easily expand storage in the future without a huge additional investment. “We have a lot of confidence in the system. The way our TerraBlock is structured with a RAID-5 array gives us a warm fuzzy feeling that our work is safe,” noted Caldecott. “Even though we have 72TB of space, we’re filling it up quickly and I love that we have the option to easily double our capacity in the future without having to invest in another new system.”



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