Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail. If possible, provide any information you have about the technologies used by Iron Water Studio.
Initially, ParaClassics was a Wikipedia for classical music. We worked for three years with that intention. It was a very different project at that point from what it eventually became. Then, we received a commission in 2011 from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to do the webcast of the Tchaikovsky competition, which is one of the largest music competitions in the world. That was the time when we began working with Iron Water Studio. I wanted to work with them and had full confidence in them.
Together, we transformed the ParaClassics website from a Wikipedia informational website to a webcast platform for the Tchaikovsky competition. Iron Water Studio did the IT [informational technology] side. To be specific, they made the desktop version for the live webcast, and that was a tough task. Then, they did the interface. In a normal musical competition, there will be just one hall with events happening every day that needs to be webcast. In the Tchaikovsky competition, there were seven halls in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There were often four live, simultaneous events. We had to think about what the interface should look like to show all these events in a way that would allow viewers to open up the different events and keep viewing them comfortably. Even though there were four events happening simultaneously, the viewer could actually follow all four. It was a crazy task and a crazy project.
On the desktop side, Iron Water Studio also did the database design – essentially everything. For the Tchaikovsky competition, they did an iPad application completely from scratch. I did most of the design but, otherwise, the app was done fully by the team.
In addition, Iron Water Studio advised us on technical solutions. This was always important in showing us how to plug all the hardware into the content delivery networks. There were two content delivery networks, one for Russia and one for the U.S. and the rest of the world. Iron Water Studio managed to coordinate everything so that we were able to use two content delivery networks simultaneously based on location. Also, they helped and advised us on the hardware solutions and managed to cope with the load of hundreds of thousands of viewers. For the Tchaikovsky competition, we had 5 million views and 200,000 unique viewers in two weeks. For classical music in 2011, this was a huge project. I think it could be compared to any major sports event in the world.
How did you come to work with Iron Water Studio?
Initially, I received a recommendation from a friend. Before that, I used two or three other firms, none of which I liked. I wasted a lot of money on that and was switching firms within two or three months.
I was working directly with the people who were coding and designing. They were very different from the other companies. I was comfortable working with them because they understood very quickly what I needed. They were very transparent. Once I found them, they were an obvious choice for me.
Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?
We've spent somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 working with Iron Water Studio.
What is the status of this engagement?
ParaClassics was completed fully three years after the Tchaikovsky competition. It worked without any additions or involvement from my end. There was no need for any additional programming. It stayed on the web and showed 300 hours of video in full high definition. It's great. This was one of the largest archives of classical music for free. Unfortunately, Silverlight is no longer supporting the platform. We now need a major review and update of the system.