Profile: VPRO TV
In 2009, Dutch public broadcaster VPRO TV was producing a 35-part series that followed the original route of the HMS Beagle, the ship upon which naturalist Charles Darwin sailed around the world, to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species.
Recorded content from the voyage aboard the VPRO-Beagle had to be transferred from the ship to the mainland for post-production. This was initially done using a pair of VSAT domes on the ship which connected to the network via an unpredictable satellite link. However, this system was slow and unreliable, which led to failed transfers and lost time.
VPRO needed to increase the reliability of their file transfers and maximize the available link speed, all while keeping a balanced budget.
Challenges: Fast File Transfers at Sea
During the first leg of the journey, the VPRO-Beagle noticed problems with their file transfers. Neither the method nor the software could handle both the high latency (from 600 milliseconds up to 3 seconds) and the connectivity issues that occurred when switching between the two modems and IPs.
The original process generated maximum speeds of 70 Kbps, which is normal for high-latency satellite links, but this inefficient method resulted in serious delays in the production process. While this carried a financial cost, there was a more important problem: the audience experience was suffering.
It was critical for VPRO to increase the reliability and speed of transfers while keeping a portion of the bandwidth available for the scientists onboard. They also needed to maximize bandwidth during short weekly windows of high connectivity so files could be sent back to VPRO’s production facilities in a timely fashion and meet the production schedule.
Solution: A Nonstop Accelerated File Transfer Software
VPRO evaluated FileCatalyst as a solution, and after a careful analysis of the transfer scenario, FileCatalyst HotFolder was recommended to schedule and manage transfers to the FileCatalyst server. VPRO used a satellite link with similar conditions to their first method, and after a successful test phase, FileCatalyst was deployed on the ship.
Francis van Gorp, a technology consultant to VPRO Television, said this about the experience: “As soon as we deployed the software, we immediately saw that FileCatalyst used full bandwidth. We then installed the software on the live link to see how it performed under extreme conditions. The FileCatalyst team was extremely helpful and fast in providing configuration tips and online sessions to tune the software to our specific needs.”
Because of the strict time frame for the project, FileCatalyst’s responsiveness and quick results were influencing factors on VPRO’s decision. “Pre-sales support from FileCatalyst provided us with answers we would never have found with just the software to test. We were pointed in the right direction and were able to make a very well-motivated decision,” said van Gorp.
Results: Faster File Transfer with FileCatalyst
VPRO’s audience was provided with an up-to-the-minute stream of information. Previously, production schedules were reworked and compressed to accommodate delayed media delivery, which incurred a cost in terms of human resources.
After implementing FileCatalyst, the VPRO team found that transferring files, once a major bottleneck, no longer required long wait times and troubleshooting. Said van Gorp, “File transfer is no longer an issue: files get across on time because bandwidth is used to the max; when the systems routes traffic from one dome to the other transfer picks up automatically; and even under extreme weather conditions with a very unstable satellite link, FileCatalyst uses every moment of connection time to send files across.”
FileCatalyst HotFolder’s bandwidth scheduler allowed the system to improve transfer speeds without monopolizing the bandwidth. The ability to manage bandwidth from either the client or server gave greater flexibility for ad-hoc transfers and the ability to accommodate rushed or emergency transfers.