24 Mar 2020

BBC Archives Centre

Broadcaster's new centralised tape system accelerates programme archiving with GB Labs LTO system.

Major UK broadcaster installs a new centralised multi-drive LTO and network storage system from GB Labs to prioritise the preservation of years of content from soon to be obsolete D3 tapes.

BBC Archives has integrated its first central LTO pool and an Ethernetattached storage system into its network to manage and Accelerate its quality control process.

Using new VAULT 4-drive devices from GB Labs that work in tandem with SPACE storage arrays, the archiving team can now manage the whole quality control project centrally and co-ordinate processes via a web portal.

According to technologist Tom Heritage at BBC, the Research and Development team wanted a solution to centralise transfer and copying procedures, rather than leave the process to individual operators’ workstations on a programme by programme basis.

The resulting solution is a more ecient workflow that has speeded up the process, reduced the strain on client PCs, minimised the time the tapes spend outside the vault and given management greater control over the exercise.

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Working with the archives team, the broadcaster's Research & Development team and GB Labs, a system was configured that integrates with existing fault tracking, QC and database systems.

The project being given priority because of was the impending obsolescence of the D3 format tapes that the content was originally recorded on.

Facing the prospect of holding years of programmes on unusable tapes, the archives team needed to transfer the content to modern media, quickly, safely and accurately.

Ben Pearce, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder of GB Labs, comments:

“The archive tapes need to stand the test of time so the broadcaster stipulated that the LTO drives should be able to sustain the maximum writing speed in order to avoid any wear from tape shuttling.

And to ensure that as many as 20 quality control operators can concurrently access any of the uncompressed files over its network, they had to be sure that our shared storage solution could handle this high level of data traffic.

With the SPACE and VAULT integration, the transfer and quality checking process has been significantly speeded up while data security has been improved.”

With tape handling reduced, copying times lowered and the speed of fault tracking increased, BBC Archives are now working their way through the backlog of material awaiting quality control.

The team has learnt lessons about resilience and redundancy along the way and is now confident that it has now mastered an improved method of fast and safe content archiving.

News archives, comedy shows, dramas and documentaries are now secured for future audiences.

Whether it is released on disk, broadcast as TV repeats, made available via an online platform or simply pored over by social historians, years of D3 archive have been preserved for posterity.

The project being given priority because of was the impending obsolescence of the D3 format tapes that the content was originally recorded on.

Facing the prospect of holding years of programmes on unusable tapes, the archives team needed to transfer the content to modern media, quickly, safely and accurately.

Image

The archive tapes need to stand the test of time so the broadcaster stipulated that the LTO drives should be able to sustain the maximum writing speed in order to avoid any wear from tape shuttling.

And to ensure that as many as 20 quality control operators can concurrently access any of the uncompressed files over its network, they had to be sure that our shared storage solution could handle this high level of data traffic.

With the SPACE and VAULT integration, the transfer and quality checking process has been significantly speeded up while data security has been improved.

Ben Pearce

Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder