Golf Channel’s Sony PetaSite Storage

20 Petabytes of optical storage

With the help of Sony, NBC’s Golf Channel can tee up the archive, drive home the petabytes and nail an eagle on the 4K HDR. Okay… I’ll stop with the corny golf jokes. What’s not corny is the partnership between Sony and the Golf Channel. From in the field to in the server room, Sony is nearly as omnipresent inside the halls of Arnold Palmer’s pet project as golf balls and tee flags.


4 Day Golf Tournaments

Think about the massive amounts of storage needed to record four full days of one golf tournament let alone years worth. I could not imagine working with four full days of golf footage on a tape-to-tape edit process. Instead of the archaic, Golf Channel turned to Sony and Avid for a completely file-based workflow giving the mini-sports network the ability to push and pull to and from a deep archive. The main element is Sony’s ODA PetaSite system, an automated optical-disc archival solution. This was the culmination of a two-year collaboration between the Golf Channel and Sony who wanted to ensure the storage solution fit the Golf Channel’s unique workflow. The size of the Golf Channel’s PetaSite system? About five years worth of video. When it comes to archiving and recording this is exactly the type of workflow needed when accessing old tournaments, new tournaments, shows, and everything in-between.

HDR and 4K

The Sony F55

On the trip where Sony sent PVC’s Bruce A. Johnson and myself to Orlando to check out the Golf Channel’s studio and offices one thing became evident. Florida and its golf courses have no limit on sunlight. So it seems rather obvious the Golf Channel has 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) listed as one of its stretch goals. Bruce and I, among others, were treated to a viewing one of the Golf Channel’s firsts test videos shot in 4K HDR at a golf tournament in Hawaii. It was a treat.

To me, this seems like an ideal example of implementing HDR video to better tell a story. Yes, it looks better, but it is the severe brights and darks mid-day or early morning sunshine seen with very little detail lost where HDR really pays off. In the past, we could expose a video camera for the darks while over-exposing the bright parts of the image, or we could expose for the bright parts of the image while sacrificing key information in the darker parts of the frame. More than Football or Baseball Golf and the Golf Channel seems more likely to capitalize on HDR broadcasting than anyone else because Golf is not usually played in a stadium and under the lights.

So what are Sony shooting on to capture their 4K HDR? In the field for long-form show’s Golf Channel utilizes Sony’s F55. Golf crews for tournaments use Sony’s PDW-F800s because of their durability and proven record of success. In the studio, Golf Channel is upgrading their in-house cameras to the HDC-4300s in early 2017.

The Sony HDC-4300

The HDC-4300, which was announced at NAB 2016, is a 2/3 inch sensor, 4K, HD, and high frame rate capable camera. This in uncompromised broadcast image quality. Fans of the Golf Channel will soon be able to count the dimples on a golf ball. What’s great about the HDC-4300s is the ability to seamlessly integrate into existing Sony HD infrastructures and accessories as well as 4K production. It will be interesting to see the Golf Channel upgrade to the optional HD 8x high frame rate. This should help many of their enthusiasts learn more from their swing tutorials.

As the Golf Channel says, “They use the best in class.” It definitely shows on the air.

Touring the Golf Channel’s offices
Part of the Golf Channel’s main studio
One of the Golf Channel’s studio cameras


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Brian Hallett, is an award winning cameraman, editor, and producer. He has shot everything from Network broadcast news, promotional image campaigns, music videos, short films, and documentaries. Check out his reel at hallett-brian.com