Columbia College Chicago: A New Avid Shared Network

Columbia College Chicago Cinema and Television Arts, a department in the School of Media Arts, continues to produce some of the most skilled production professionals in the industry with notable Oscar, Emmy, and Spirit Award winners. At the core of the department is Dennis Keeling, post-production manager. Dennis, along with Jeff Meyers (Director of Technology for the School of Media Arts), must decide how to retool classrooms and the facility in order to meet the ever-changing curriculum for post-production professionals.

Jeff and Dennis have both been with the school for over 20-years. Together they’ve been working on a massive network refresh, centralizing all Media Arts computers and systems into a single facility.

“When the television and cinema arts departments merged in 2017, we saw a huge opportunity to build a single ecosystem–from live production to post production to publish,” commented Jeff. Dennis jumped in, ”We’ve always tried to follow industry trends. Media Arts cannot be bleeding edge but we want to be leading edge. The school has been pretty early in the adoption of editorial storage area networks, running for 15 years using Avid shared storage.”

The Department of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago has over 100 faculty and 1300 students. Regardless of which focus a student takes, most receive a basic level of education on editorial and the post-production industry.

“A big goal of our curriculum is to allow our students to be prepared for the industry as a whole. There is an emphasis on giving students real world experience with professional tools such as Adobe, Avid, Da Vinci, or audio. You never know what will be the opportunity that launches these students’ careers,” said Dennis.

While a variety of editorial software tools are incorporated into the curriculum, Avid storage is leveraged as the backbone for real-time media production.

Most recently, the School of Media Arts upgraded their Avid ISIS Shared Storage to Avid NEXIS. The upgraded storage not only allows higher-resolution workflows but also preps the school for their overall goal of having one centralized systems facility.

“Our Avid storage has always needed to be in a separate facility, located closer to the post production and post audio classrooms. This limits the number of students that can access the system at one time,” commented Dennis. “Upgrading to Avid NEXIS will eventually allow us to move our post production servers into one central Media Arts network. This will be a game changer for our students and faculty–while also reducing the hassle of IT managing networks hosted in separate buildings.”

Dennis and Jeff rely on the Key Code Media Chicago team to provide installation and support for the Avid NEXIS Shared Storage.

“We’ve been working with John Connolly Jr, Kevin Bruce, and the Key Code Media Chicago team for many years–even purchasing our original Avid Unity and LAN shares. It’s important for us to have an Avid ACSR Certified Technician available. When you got 100s of students relying on Avid daily, it needs to be maintained optimally, and always available. Key Code Media moves faster and can provide a higher level of support than any manufacturers.” – Dennis Keeling

Columbia College Chicago Cinema and Television Arts Department just upgraded to a new 180TB Avid Nexis E4 system with System Director Appliance. Cheers to educating the next generation of Avid editors!