Wednesday, April 17, 2024

NZ’s Dept of Post Installs Interra’s BATON Automated QC Platform

Located in Auckland, New Zealand, Department of Post provides end-to-end post-production services — from media management, dailies, and editorial, to colour grading and quality control — for film, television, and emerging media content from top-tier service providers and platforms around the world. Operating from a state-of-the-art production facility, featuring over 4km of fibre optic network operating at speeds of 100Gb, the company’s customers include major players such as Amazon Studios, Netflix, HBO, BBC, Al Jazeera, TVNZ, Sky, and more.

Department of Post is known for pushing the boundaries of technology, ensuring that every storyteller has access to the very latest tools and expertise, regardless of project scale or budget. Highlights of the company’s facility include a 36-seat Dolby Atmos-certified premier far-field mix stage with dual Avid S6 M40 audio consoles; Auckland’s largest and quietest ADR/Foley stage; a DaVinci Resolve UHD HDR theatrical colour grading suite that is also the only colour grading suite in the southern hemisphere to feature a 4K Christie CP4325-RGB laser projector; an Avid and VFX finishing suite; and more. And to ensure that Department of Post’s clients have complete confidence in the quality of their masters at the end of the post-production process, the facility is outfitted with Interra System’s BATON M/L- and AI-enabled automated QC platform.

“When equipping our facility, we understood that servicing our elite clientele demanded an advanced automated QC tool capable of detecting a wide variety of video quality issues at an early stage,” said James Gardner, CTO of Department of Post. “In keeping with our goal of providing producers and artists with the best technology available, nothing less than the gold standard of QC tools would do. So, we did our due diligence. After looking into all the options on the market, and meeting with a range of teams at NAB, it became clear that Interra Systems’ BATON was the right solution for us and our customers.”

The BATON QC platform provides comprehensive quality, standards compliance, and regulatory and baseband checks for VOD content — either in the cloud or on-premises — for linear and streaming workflows. BATON is a hybrid QC solution that implements organisational QC policy to support a combination of automated and manual QC checks. This results in a well-integrated and efficient broadcast workflow.

Seamless Workflow

Running on a Supermicro 1RU server, connected over 40Gb, BATON was quickly installed and configured at Department of Post’s facility within two weeks. The integration and operational flow are seamless, utilising BATON’s smart folders to automatically process new files for QC – based on predefined test plans. Department of Post has registered content folders as “Smartfolders” and any content arriving at these folders is automatically picked up for QC against a specific test plan per pre-QC filter. These “Smartfolders” can then move these files to respective folders based on QC results – whether a file fails or passes the QC tests. To ensure ease of deployment, BATON offers several pre-configured test plans tailored to specific platform delivery requirements — such as Netflix — while also allowing Department of Post to adjust these test plans or develop new ones to cater to custom requirements.

Department of Post is utilising BATON to perform QC on all masters before they exit the facility, with finishing artists depending on it daily. Moreover, the platform is integrated with Slack to provide detailed feedback to artists as quickly as possible, enhancing efficiency. For instance, for a recent feature film, BATON swiftly pinpointed a significant number of dead pixels in a single frame, enabling the finishing artist to correct the issue promptly with the precise time codes provided.

“BATON allows us to bring our commitment to cutting-edge technology into the QC process,” added Gardner. “Thanks to the platform, our producers can fully trust in the quality of the masters that they distribute globally — the solution’s reports tick all the boxes they require. Beyond this, the customer support from Interra Systems is unparalleled, and the company continually advances the platform with new, sophisticated capabilities. The latest example of this is version 9.0, which introduces a brand-new engine for enhanced performance, along with support for new checks, formats, and features, including complete support and checks for the Dolby Atmos ecosystem. Although BATON 9.0 isn’t available in our region yet, we’re eager to update to it the moment it is available.”


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