Case Study – Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Chapman University, Orange, California
Premier U.S Film School Creates Automated Web Service Utilising Advanced API Capabilities Within ContentAgent
“We have a great working relationship with ROOT6 Technology. I appreciate we’re pushing the system to the limit and using the system in a very customised way but it’s designed for that.”
Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, part of Chapman University of Orange, California and one of the premier film schools in the U.S. has created ‘ProjectHQ,’ an automated web service for students and staff that utilises the advanced API capabilities within ContentAgent.
The story starts back in 2006 when Dodge College installed its first ContentAgent in a dailies workflow, transcoding students’ film material in the form of DPX image sequences from its Spirit datacine into MXF and QuickTime formats for Avid editing. Digital Post Production Engineer Justin Lutsky, who joined the faculty at that time, oversaw the process which involved ContentAgent scanning Watch Folders for DPX material then instigating the editing transcode workflow.
There was, at the time, some challenges associated with working with DPX files and Watch Folders as it was difficult to apply the relevant lookup tables (LUTs) that determine the colour and intensity of the images. Lutsky worked with ROOT6 Technology to address this issue which is now fully resolved. Indeed, ContentAgent is now available with additional colour management tools for basic gamut correction as well as conversion to 601 and 709 colour spaces.
It was at this time that Lutsky discovered the ContentAgent API and realised that it could be customised to help in an ambitious project to create a central resource for tracking and presenting students’ work in progress. The XML- based API has been designed to enable enterprise level automation with the ability to control ContentAgent workflows through web services using Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), a means of transferring XML formatted information via the Internet.
Dubbed ProjectHQ, the resulting web service provides Dodge College students with a means of uploading their film or HD generated clips to a site which enables other students to view and comment on work in progress and keeps track of every reel. Uploaded video triggers ContentAgent to apply the appropriate web-friendly transcodes and template.
“It’s like having a secure YouTube or Vimeo service,” maintains Lutsky, and an important complement to the state-of-the-art production and postproduction technologies to which our students have access.”
The configuration of ContentAgent at Dodge College is designed with maximum fail-safe security; the central job management system sits on a mission-critical secure server which handles the job submissions. Rendering is via three JobAgents, described by Lutsky as “The ContentAgent render farm,” and there are an additional two stand-alone systems.
“We have a great working relationship with ROOT6 Technology,” concludes Lutsky “I appreciate we’re pushing the system to the limit and using the system in a very customised way but it’s designed for that. We’re looking forward to adding new features that will deliver even greater benefits to the students and staff of Dodge College.”