To post produce a reality TV series, Matchbox Pictures adopted Avid’s Edit On Demand remote editing system with NEXIS storage for a team of editors and producers located across Australia.

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Matchbox Pictures is a film and television production company with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. Serving a worldwide audience, they work for all of Australia’s networks, plus a large number of international buyers and commissioners. Over the second half of 2023, the company acquired a full remote-working production platform for their Avid-based editorial team to help them manage a large, incoming production that had already begun shooting – reality TV show ‘The Real Housewives of Sydney’ Series 2.

Matchbox Pictures’ requirements started with designing a remote editing system for the project, able to support five editors and three producers spread across Australia, all of whom needed remote access at short notice.

Storage would be a major factor due to the very large quantities of video that unscripted productions like The Real Housewives typically generate. This project was expected to need more than 350TB of secure online storage. They had decided that shipping hard drives would cause problems and be too time-consuming but, although Matchbox Pictures’ existing workflow incorporated some remote elements, various challenges regarding infrastructure and remote connectivity still had to be overcome.

Alternative Route

Together with the local Avid team, supplier and systems integrator Digistor proposed an alternative route based on an Avid Edit On Demand subscription with eight Media Composer seats for both editors and producers, and incorporated the ability to work from NEXIS storage residing in the cloud.

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Currently, Avid NEXIS systems help teams work together, from any location, through secure, remote access to media and metadata across online, nearline, cloud and archive storage. The Avid NEXIS | VFS, or virtual file system, makes it possible to deploy NEXIS storage on-premises, in the cloud or as a SaaS like Edit On Demand.

VFS virtualises hardware and/or cloud storage into a single pool of shared resources. Because systems designed this way involve continuously changing workloads, NEXIS and VFS include automated intelligence to meet changed conditions as they emerge.

Team Building

Matchbox Pictures’ Production Executive, Unscripted, Catherine Durr said, “We were looking for efficient options for remote working that didn’t rely on VPN tunnels or on maintaining dedicated physical computers in our offices. Matchbox produces in every state of the country, which means we can employ the best people, wherever they are.

“The Avid Edit On Demand system that Digistor proposed supports that approach by enabling us to assemble the best-possible post-production team, at any given time, from a dispersed roster of project editors and post producers working in several different state, regional and city locations.”

Leading this project were Avid’s ANZ partner account manager for video Kwasi Kwakwa, and Digistor sales specialist Andrew Hogan. Supervising technical producer for Matchbox Pictures on The Real Housewives project was David Oliverius. “By allowing us to deploy the infrastructure purely in the cloud, using Avid Edit On Demand meant we could avoid VPN tunnels and keep all of our physical hardware free to supply to team members as they came in and out of contracts,” David said.

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Adaptable and Scalable

“We particularly liked the flexible nature of Avid on Demand services. We could purchase entitlements based on the expected duration of the production, launch instances in the cloud, and then turn them off. This lowered up-front expense and ongoing assets costs, and made the system much easier to administrate.”

Digistor were the first Avid partners to sell Edit On Demand services into the Australian market. Due to their experience in working with post-production teams, and their expertise in remote workflows, they were able to further adapt the system for delivery as an Edit on Demand SaaS product, customised to meet Matchbox Pictures’ demands.

“We used the new Avid systems to do all the offline editing work for the show,” said David. “All post producers and editors were working from home and able to connect to the system, and everyone could work in the same NEXIS environment. Edit assistants could also log in to support the team with group work, sync and exports.”

Matchbox also used Edit On Demand to scale their requirements, performance attributes and storage according to what their editorial staff needed. Owing to the many hours of footage recorded, the Avid system’s main users were post producers initially sifting through the footage, and the offline editors.

Avid Workflow in the Cloud

David commented, “Essentially, this system reflects our entire Avid workflow in the cloud. All editorial facets of multi-cam non-scripted production were covered, which previously would have required significant investment in on-premises storage to assure performance for concurrent editors. Now it was all available remotely.”

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The rushes were processed on a local Avid setup in Matchbox Pictures’ office. Once the Avid proxies were generated, they were automatically uploaded to the cloud while the editorial assistants synchronised and assembled the footage, ready for organising into projects. These were mirrored to the cloud to give access to the remote editors collaborating from their locations.

David valued the simplicity of the system, which did not require acquiring new software or hardware, or establishing permanent connections. Edit On Demand also gives users a consistent experience between editing in an on-prem environment versus the cloud. He said, “Avid Edit On Demand runs efficiently on Azure servers without involving our office network at all. The system is completely independent and extremely reliable. From an administration point of view, fixing users’ problems is generally straightforward, and restarting a system can be done in one step.”