Lights, camera, asset management
Lights, camera, asset management

Apr 1, 1999 12:00 PM
Access Control & Security Systems Integration Staff

In Hollywood, where a single reel of film can be worth millions, studios and production companies risk tremendous losses if a film or video master is stolen or illegally duplicated. Despite the high stakes, post-production companies hired by studios to edit, master and distribute such valuable content historically have done little to protect client property.

The new era of electronic asset management technology could change that. VDI Media, a leading post-production company with 10 nationwide facilities, recently became one of the first service providers to leverage newly-available security technology. By integrating data from inventory management, bar coding, access control and CCTV systems, VDI management can track each video and film product as it makes its way through VDI's 15,000-square-foot Los Angeles production facility.

VDI's offices nationwide offer such services as film-to-video transferring, audio and video duplicating, digital editing, DVD services, technical services such as closed captioning, content distribution and syndication.

VDI, which has the six major Hollywood studios as clients, decided to tighten its asset management procedures in response to industry-wide concern over the rising tide of pirated and bootlegged material being sold overseas.

"Piracy and bootlegging of major motion pictures and TV programming represent billions of dollars in lost revenues for the studios," says Carl Segal, general manager of VDI's Los Angeles facility. "By installing an asset management system, we set ourselves apart from our competitors while providing the studios added peace-of-mind."

Integrating key functions The system, designed and installed by Global Custom Security (GCS) Inc., Agoura Hills, Calif., integrates three software-based products: - Gyyr AXxess 202 facility management software; - Gyyr VideoKey badging and electronic personnel imaging storage system; and - VDI's existing Oracle database.

When a videotape or a film reel arrives at VDI, a bar code is affixed to the product and the bar code's number is entered into the inventory database. In each department, the product's first stop is a personal computer that serves as a check-in station. Each employee enters the element's bar code into the system, his or her employee ID number - affixed to the back of the employee photo ID badge - and a work-order number.

The process provides tracking that holds the individual responsible for that element, explains Delany Broussard, president of Global Custom Security, which frequently partners with Gyyr.

Playing a role in the process is Gyyr's VideoKey badging system, which consists of a color camera, on-demand color PVC card printer, video capture system and card image software. It also stores each badge-holder's image and credentials.

VideoKey is interoperable with the AXxess 202 building management system, and ID badges are also used to enter access-controlled doors. When a new worker is issued a badge, the person's name, credentials and video image are added automatically to the AXxess 202 database. AXxess 202 can be configured so that when an employee enters one of VDI's 20 access-controlled doors, the image from his or her ID badge and other identification data appear on the PC monitor in the security control room. An employee's identity can be verified by comparing the live video of the access control screen to the stored image of the authorized badge holder.

Camera control AXxess 202 also allows VDI to automate pan/tilt/zoom cameras, to establish schedules for locking and unlocking doors and to integrate cameras with the facility's access control system from a Windows-based PC. Cameras and access points can also be controlled manually from the PC. The system alerts on-duty security personnel of events - including those triggered by glass break detectors - and signals the Gyyr VCRs to switch from time-lapse to real-time recording mode during alarm conditions.

There are numerous cameras installed throughout VDI. A few pan/tilt/zoom cameras are housed in Gyyr Vortex domes and monitor parking lots and a central hallway.

The dome in the hallway monitors seven access control points, refocuses and moves about 400 times a day, Broussard says - a lot of activity for a pan/tilt/zoom camera. The Vortex is a universal 5-inch dome that integrates Gyyr's and other vendors' products. It features pan speeds of 0.10 to 600 degrees per second, tilt speeds of 300 degrees per second and a total zoom capability of 96x.

The access control and CCTV systems monitor departments vulnerable to theft or unauthorized duplicating. A sensor activates an alarm if doors are left open for more than 45 seconds.

Several cameras patrol the shipping and receiving department where a door to the parking lot is opened about 750 times a day. Cameras capture intruders on videotape but also provide important operational information.

These cameras help VDI monitor employee movement and procedures, ensuring, for instance, that workers are not using the shipping and receiving door as an exit, Broussard says.

VDI's mastering tape room has the most restricted access because it is here that unauthorized duplications of client material can most easily take place. A bank of videotape players and recorders lines the room. The players are linked to equipment in edit rooms throughout VDI. Security cameras are positioned to observe the videotapes that are located on a central table reserved for work products. Other cameras are trained on the players and recorders, monitoring every push of a button and insertion of videotape.

Down the hall, VDI's tape storage room houses thousands of titles on a typical day. Because employees must scan tape bar codes and ID numbers into the database, VDI management can check on the whereabouts of any title with a few keystrokes on the personal computer in the security control room.

Other areas monitored by the CCTV system include the MPEG compression and DVD authoring centers, the audio mixing department and the storage room for raw tape stock.

Setting a standard Plans call for VDI's Los Angeles office to add a full-time security staff to augment and manage the asset management system. Other facilities will soon be equipped with similar systems linked by a network.

"VDI's new security system is superior to what most studios have in-house to protect their valuable masters," says Brian Grant, VDI's vice president of business development. "We hope the studios come to recognize us as the Fort Knox of the industry."

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