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The Collectv helps drive production on Formula One: Drive to Survive

Company helped ensure all data from the production company's UHD camera crews was securely ingested, backed up, transcoded, and sent on to post production

Broadcast solutions and workflow consultancy The Collectv dealt with data wrangling from the cameras used to film the latest series of Netflix’s Formula One: Drive to Survive.

The company helped ensure all data from production company Box to Box’s UHD camera crews was securely ingested, backed up, transcoded, and sent on to post production.

Box to Box deploys between six to nine 4K camera crews at each F1 race, which can generate between 7TB to 12TB of data over the course of the race weekend. In order to ensure all of the data could be captured once each race was over, The Collectv built special systems to handle the throughput in the timeframe required and that adhere strictly to Netflix’s backup criteria.

The production used LTO and near-line storage on-site. In previous seasons, material was transcoded into DNxHD 36 before being sent on drives to post production house The Farm in London. However, for the pandemic-affected 2020 season, this was switched to a direct 10GbE connection.

The Collectv’s system takes up two racks in Box to Box’s production area and was initially based on rack-mounted Dell 7920 workstations, but has recently been re-engineered around HP Z2s.

“The Z2s give us the power we need for transcoding the material before the compound is shut down and packed up for the next race,” said Chris Sarson, MD and co-owner at The Collectv. “They also allow us to transport the equipment in the hold in three large Peli cases rather than having to go cargo all the time, which gives us that much more flexibility when it comes to following the races around the world.”

“Our new equipment means that we can be based at the circuit and we can also be based out of a hotel room if need be, which is an important consideration in this era of biosecure production,” added Sarson. “Also, for the last three races last season we added somebody on via a remote connection. As always, we had a person on the ground who was getting those cards, putting them in the card readers, and copying those onto machines. Then when they went off shift, we could have someone back at base transcoding, copying those files off the drives ready to be delivered to The Farm for post. It’s a big saving both in production costs and in efficiencies and is something we’re looking to do more in the future.”

Tom Rogers, executive in charge of post production at Box to Box Films said The Collectv has been an invaluable partner on the series right from the start. “Their industry leading technical knowledge, coupled with a desire to innovate has ensured they are central to our media management for this series, and several of our other titles,” he added.

“The 2020 season tested their innovation to the maximum, and The Collectv proved once again why we continue to partner with them. They adapted our media management processes, workflow and infrastructure to ensure we could operate as seamlessly as possible within the parameters of our Covid secure production plan.”

Season three of Formula One: Drive to Survive is released on Netflix on 19th March.