When The Farm Group, an international post production company, built its newest facility in Soho, London, it sought a high performance KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) provider to supply the infrastructure for a series of editing and effects suites. Barbara Wilderspin asks if The Farm found what it was looking for.
With locations in the UK and the US, The Farm Group provides both talent and facilities for television, broadcast and post production companies. Its Soho site incorporates four buildings which house various configurations of editing and effects suites, audio studios, and various other creative technical equipment.
William Blake in Soho
William, the new building, named after William Blake, is situated on the birth site of the poet and includes 18 offline suites, six online suites, three effects rooms, seven sound studios and four sound preparation areas.
The suites are rented out to production companies on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. KVM was the obvious choice so all equipment and hardware could be stored in a central location, outside of the suites, freeing up space, increasing security and eliminating excess heat and noise.
“We knew that we wanted a KVM infrastructure for William and began investigating our options. In 2012 we visited IBC where we spotted Adder Technology,” said Adam Peat, head of engineering, The Farm Group. “Adder supplied us with a few systems to test, and as this was a significant installation that would affect our future business, we needed to be completely sure. A large part of our business sees freelance editors making use of our suites and we needed to ensure that they would be happy with the system and not find fault with the KVM, such as lagging.”
After the successful testing and evaluation phase Adder Technology provided its AdderLink Infinity Matrix to The Farm.
“The entire infrastructure of the facility is based on the IP-based AdderLink Infinity KVM solution,” said Peat. “We did investigate other vendors, both IP-based and traditional KVM, but the major selling point for the Adder solution was able to support the 2560x1600 monitor resolution required in some of our suites at the refresh rate required.”
A number of the suites feature a single dual link high resolution user interface display on a 30-inch screen with 2560x1600 resolution and the use of the AdderLink extension technology ensures that the refresh rate is not negatively affected as it supplies the bandwidth needed.
Flexibility and Usability
“The AdderLink Infinity meets our requirements as we are able to keep the equipment out of the edit suites which is great from an ergonomic point of view, with less heat and noise, and also from an aesthetic perspective. With the matrix functionality, we also have the flexibility to connect any room to any bit of equipment. This makes the lives of the suite users a lot easier with near instant switching speeds between systems while sitting at one workstation.”
The AdderLink Infinity Matrix also gives The Farm additional flexibility in terms of downtime. Historically, if a machine was faulty it either had to be replaced immediately, plugged in and configured, or the client using it had to be shifted to a new room. Now, however, if a computer should fail, downtime is eliminated with a simple switch over to another machine.
“Usability was also an important consideration for us,” said Peat. “From the backend, installation and administration perspective we have a good technical team on site. But the actual user interface needed to be user-friendly and seamless, so that the creative and editors weren’t even aware that they were using KVM technology, and this is definitely the case with the Adder solution.”
The IP-based KVM solution is also being used elsewhere in the facility in the support offices where a lot of switching is required. Previously The Farm used small hardware-based KVM over Cat6 systems but were limited by size and the difficulty and expense of adding user points.
“Given the opportunity, I would consider using the IP-based AdderLink Infinity solution in our other buildings if an upgrade was needed as the benefits are significant and the performance excellent,” concluded Peat.