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Grass Valley, CA 95945
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AJA Video

Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of video interface technologies, converters, digital video recording solutions and professional cameras, bringing high-quality, cost-effective products to the professional broadcast, video, post production and ProAV markets. AJA products are designed and manufactured in Grass Valley, California.

Model: Ki Pro GO2

Ki Pro GO2 is a portable multi-channel H.265 (HEVC)* and H.264 (AVC) recorder offering up to 4-channels of simultaneous HD or SD recording to qualified USB drives and/or network storage with redundant
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Katara Studios Details Its Latest Studio Upgrade to Support 8K
Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2023
Katara Studios Details Its Latest Studio Upgrade to Support 8K

Oct. 5, 2023 - While 4K has become increasingly common in production and post environments in the last few years, when it comes to resolution, several studios are now looking to support 8K as well. Doha, Qatar-based Creative Shop Katara Studios is one such company. We caught up with Katara Studios Senior Technical Engineer Thahasin Kasim, who recently completed the first phase of a facility upgrade designed to bring its studio into the future with higher resolution workflows enabled by tools like AJA’s KONA 5 video I/O card. 

Tell us more about Katara Studios.

Katara Studios is located in Doha, Qatar, and was established in 2018 with a full Dolby Atmos facility. Our original focus centered on providing multi-studio music recording and 5.1 mixing and mastering, but we also run a post facility that’s fully equipped with edit, audio post, VFX, and color grading suites. Furthermore, Katara Studios has a creative production department that works actively on the studio’s originals and content creation services.

Describe the kinds of projects you work on.

The projects we take on ultimately depend upon the client, and we work with an extensive roster of companies worldwide spanning the music, film, and commercial industries. One of our latest projects was the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 opening and closing ceremonies. The event received praise for its successful organization and a remarkable opening ceremony message and visuals that captivated millions. Our team helped produce and manage the event. To ensure a memorable audience experience for the project, we enlisted amazing talent from all over the world. Another project that comes to mind is our original episodic project, “THE PACT,” which includes seven episodes and recently premiered on Roku. We have quite a few other original projects in the pipeline that we can’t talk about just yet. 

What is your role at Katara?

I’m a Senior Technical Engineer, which means I keep watch over all our IT and technical systems, ensuring that our facility equipment is working perfectly and can handle our project load. I also manage media, lead technical support, and handle IT procurement. Katara Studios management places a huge emphasis on maintaining the best gear possible so we can deliver the most outstanding results for clients, so I also spend a lot of time researching new technology and equipment for our recording and post suites. It’s a competitive differentiator that allows us to deliver top-notch work on time, which is something the company really values. 

Describe an average day on the job. 

My day is never boring. Every day presents new challenges. I start by keeping an eye on scheduled tasks that happen outside of regular work hours such as backups, archives, and ensuring our storage server and other servers are running smoothly. Then, I move on to the tasks that require IT’s attention, prioritizing them based on urgency. I also handle unexpected issues that arise during recording or post-production, which often require quick fixes.

What do you enjoy most about your profession? What’s challenging about it? 

Being part of a media facility means dealing with a variety of projects and solving new problems, which keeps things interesting. I invest time in learning about new products and technology updates and finding solutions that can improve daily tasks and enhance post workflows. I enjoy resolving issues for various departments in the post house. It's incredibly satisfying and motivating, especially when I receive appreciation from engineers and artists. Working with such a talented and passionate team of sound and visual artists is also rewarding.

Media management is the most demanding aspect of the job, as technology is constantly evolving and there is a growing need to keep on top of the available storage, backup, and archive space in a post house. We now deal with terabytes of data instead of gigabytes, especially with 6K and 8K high bit rate camera rushes in the ingest process. Managing media has become increasingly challenging, especially when the online department requires the highest quality footage for VFX and color grading. Avoiding data duplication is crucial to prevent filling up storage with duplicated footage in the post pipeline.

Tell us more about your recent facility overhaul. 

Katara Studios has always been equipped with state-of-the-art technology, but as UltraHD quickly began proliferating, we realized we’d need a facility update to manage an influx of 6K and 8K footage, which creates challenges due to the heavy encoding and file sizes. Our previous edit machines could no longer handle these projects, necessitating an upgrade. Our sound engineers also faced similar challenges, as they struggled to handle sessions with video and multiple audio tracks during mixing sessions, along with their preferred audio plugins. The goal was to implement a future-proof solution leveraging the latest technologies while maintaining the highest quality of product possible. Ultimately, we implemented a host of updates to our pipeline that have helped our entire post team work faster and more efficiently. The update builds on an existing audio pipeline comprising 400 microphones, a 96-channel Neve console, an API 80-channel analog console, a 5.1 Maselec mastering console, audio outboards and processors, and 17 Avid Pro Tools rigs for recording and mixing. 

Video I/O was a crucial part of the upgrade. We looked into new I/O cards and chose the AJA KONA 5, partially because it can handle up to 8K. Plus, we’ve used past iterations of AJA KONA cards in our audio systems and had good experiences. I also love that KONA 5 is compatible with a wide range of professional software, and the high resolution, high bit rate video processing power that you get with the card is impressive. We use KONA 5 across operating systems from Windows to macOS, and Linux. Presently our KONA 5 cards are installed on Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion chassis made by Sonnet with Apple Mac Studio. We already have six KONA 5 cards, with more planned for the second phase of our studio upgrade.

Outside of KONA 5, we also use AJA Hi5-4K-Plus Mini-Converters in our color grading suites and KONA 4 audio and video I/O cards to give our clients an UltraHD output on viewing TVs. This combination of products helps us convert 4K SDI to 4K HDMI and even offers HDR options through AJA’s Mini-Config software. It improves our visibility and ensures that what we're sending and viewing on the TV is top-notch. We also rely on AJA Io 4K Plus for our mobile recordings and shoots outside our studio.

How has the upgrade impacted your business? 

By upgrading our equipment, we can provide a higher level of service and premium content to our customers. At the same time, the new infrastructure gives our artists the efficiency and flexibility to invest more time in their creative work, improving productivity and accelerating creative output. It helps ensure the sustainability of our facility for the coming years.

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