Bunim-Murray Productions Accelerates Global Productions with Signiant + Wasabi

April 17, 2023By Ben Bonadies

Bunim-Murray Productions is a groundbreaking producer of reality television. The Emmy® Award-winning company is widely credited with creating the reality television genre with its hit series The Real World (31 seasons for MTV). Bunim-Murray Productions (BMP) continued to innovate with the first reality game show, Road Rules (MTV), in 1995; the first reality sitcom, The Simple Life (E!), in 2003; and the first reality soap opera, Starting Over, in 2003. The studio, co-founded in 1987 by Mary-Ellis Bunim, a soap opera producer, and Jonathan Murray, who had built his career in news and documentaries, is now owned by the French entertainment powerhouse Banijay.  

Global Productions Require Fast File Movement 

Although Bunim-Murray is based in Los Angeles, California, its vast array of programs shoot all over the world. “Through shows like The Challenge or other competitions that we show, we can literally shoot on the opposite side of the world every six months,” said Daniel Shott, Director of Post Technologies at Bunim-Murray. “We shot in South Africa, South America, Asia, Europe; you name it, we'll fire up a production and need the footage back to our editing team as quickly as possible.” To manage the fast movement of footage from location back to the post-production facility in Los Angeles, Bunim-Murray utilizes the Signiant Platform to accelerate their file transfers. However, the on-premises storage used by the editors couldn’t keep up with the flood of content coming in from their file transfer solution.  

“When we have a show shooting outside of Los Angeles, they're generating three to four terabytes worth of raw media per day,” said Shott. For these intensive workloads, they needed a more robust storage solution that could handle the influx of content from around the world.  

Signiant + Wasabi Grant Instant Access to Media Files 

Bunim-Murray needed a storage solution that could rapidly ingest content when it came in from locations around the world. The workflow goes like this: on location, a Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) takes camera RAW footage from the day’s shoot, makes two backup copies, and sends one to Los Angeles using the Signiant Platform. This is where Bunim-Murray's Los Angeles team would typically run into problems with bandwidth.   

“We were looking for a high-quality but low price-per-terabyte cloud storage where we could send footage from the field to a central cloud location and then pull it back down here in Los Angeles,” said Shott. For that, Signiant recommended Wasabi as a cloud hub for their file transfers. Signiant’s partnership with Wasabi meant that the studio did not need to abandon their current file-transfer workflow. Instead of a point-to-point transfer, the DIT sends the RAW footage to Wasabi instead. “We found that sending it straight to Wasabi was a great solution and that it would handle whatever we could throw at it,” Shott said. Once in Wasabi’s cloud, Bunim-Murray's digital team can download the footage and begin working within their local Avid environment, granting them access to files at speeds previously unachievable.  

Cloud Storage That’s Fast and Flexible 

The variable nature of reality TV production makes planning ahead a challenge. “We might have two or three shows dumping media in one month and then nothing the next month,” Shott said. For this reason, the ability to pay for storage month-to-month was crucial for the Bunim-Murray team. The rigidity of premise-based storage capacity just didn’t make sense for the producer given the unpredictable ups and downs required of them. “Since we don't have any control over when all the shows are shooting, to some extent, the ability to spike up in storage and then ramp down when we don't need it is super valuable,” Shott said. This coupled with Wasabi’s speed and low cost per-TB were game-changers for the highly specialized workflows Bunim-Murray relies on to deliver groundbreaking television for millions of viewers. “Going through with a Wasabi solution, we're saving a fortune every single day that we are filming.” 

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