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APB : December 2010
16 CREATION December 2010 Along with digitisation comes the ability to deploy content into multiple platforms. It is thus imperative that broadcasters who want to achieve this goal continue to trek the path towards enhancing and improving their workflow to maximise each area of operations. Such is the case of Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN Corpora- tion. The network, which started digitising its news and long-form programme production work- flows in 2004, is continuously working to improve and maxi- mise the benefits offered by new and improved technologies avail- able for today's broadcasters. In 2008, four years after the company's milestone decision to digitise its production, the broad- caster was busy installing new equipment to central- ise content production while making available this content via multi- ple platforms such as its international chan- nels and online TV. ABS-CBN's program- mes are produced by two departments: News and Current Af- fairs, which handles content for primetime news and for other current affairs pro- grammes; and Produc- tion, which is respon- sible for producing dramas, variety pro- grammes and other live enter- tainment shows. Both divisions, which invested in a large number of Avid solutions in 2004, contin- ues to add on more equipment in order to achieve its centralised content management and multi- platform deployment plans. This year, the News and Current Affairs department has installed Avid's Unity ISIS, Interplay sys- tems, CaptureManager, AirSpeed Multi Stream, iNews, NewsCutter, and Active Content Manager. For the Production depart- ment, a new Unity ISIS, Interplay, Media Composer and Pro Tools HD systems have been installed. As the bulk of content produc- tion falls on the Production de- partment, a number of upgrades have been done here over the years. For example, to integrate with its existing Avid solutions, in 2008, the department installed EVS technology to migrate its studios and OB vans to a tape- less production workflow. The EVS solution was chosen because of its interoperability with non- linear post-production systems, especially its integration with the Avid solutions. ABS-CBN's plans then were to digitise all areas of production, Upgrade not an option, says broadcaster with the EVS' XT server giv- ing the broadcaster the flexibil- ity to work with Avid and other third-party providers. Besides, ABS-CBN had already started producing in SD and HD, hence the need to install systems that would support both formats and provide the highest level of qual- ity --- no matter what format the staff was working in. In 2008, ABS-CBN had installed in its facilities a total of 14 units of the XT for ingest of media. EVS' IPDirector was also set up in the broadcaster's studios for controlling the servers as well as for logging and browsing. With the EVS systems in place, media transfer to the broadcast- er's Avid ISIS for post production is currently being done with EVS' XFile acting as a gateway. All cap- tured media is compressed in IMX for SD and DNxHD for HD, which makes all EVS equipment natively compatible with ABS-CBN's Avid post-production system. For studio production, three four-channel XT servers con- trolled by IPDirector have been installed at ABS-CBN's studios for ingest and content indexing, reviewing, clipping and transfer to temporary archive or to Avid ISIS for post production. Furthermore, because this solution ingests media digitally, editors will be able to edit media immediately upon ingest, even while recording is still in process, rather than wait for the tapes to be digitised. For increased capability in handling HD content, ABS-CBN added more Avid suites for re- purposing of masters for other platform of content delivery in October last year. According to Arvin dela Vega, ABS-CBN's head of Post Production, the broadcaster's post production added more transfer managers in its back end to handle more file-based transfers of media from post to playout server. In April this year, another major upgrade was initiated, to increase the capacity of its server to 120TB and made fully redundant (around 4,630 hours of media in DV50 format), and to boost the bandwidth to handle more HD projects. The broadcaster also installed additional editing suites --- includ- ing Avid DX Nitris workstations, which increased the number of editing suits made available for its internal clients to 48. The upgrade included updating all software to the latest versions. Another move was to migrate existing workstations and serv- ers so as to handle the 64-bit OS required for the new workflows. ABS-CBN also placed additional new sets of transfer managers to maximise file-based pushing and pulling to and from its media as- set management (MAM) system. The MAM solution, which was installed in 2008, consists of a Dalet Digital Media Systems' Dalet Plus with MassStore sup- plied by the Masstech Group. The combination of the two solu- tions means that the broadcaster needs to digitise files only once for file-based media management workflow in the TV network's studios and post-production, library-archive and broadcast- playout operations. MassStore's SAvISM (Smart Avid Interface) is also the means to connect with ABS-CBN's exist- ing Avid Interplay ISIS to provide DET and DHM file transfers for automatic workflow from the Avid Interplay Production system. Project archiving in the broad- caster's Final Cut Studio editing environment is being achieved using Masstech's M-Connect. ABS-CBN had also purchased a T950 Spectra Logic LTO4 data archive library. All content in the Spectra archive was moved by MassStore and made easily avail- able for playout upon requests from the TV network's Etere Automation to transfer content to its Seachange on-air playout operations. Last year also saw the com- pletion of ABS-CBN's OB Van-9 to full HD capability. Used for sports coverage, it was equipped with a new Kahuna video switch- er, Sony HD camera, EVS XT2 video server and playback, Midas audio mixing console, digital communications and its acces- sories, all HD-capable. The upgrade was managed by Raul Bulaong, CTO of ABS- CBN who was then head for Technical Operations; Edwin Mendoza, head of Techni- cal Facilities and Production Management; and Hermy Laguerta, head of Technical Facility Management. Laguerta said that for one of its studios being used to cover live broadcast variety show, the broadcaster had installed a new Kahuna switcher, Sony HD cam- era, and an EVS XT2 video server and playback. Cold lighting systems replaced around 30%-40% of studio hot lights, delivering the benefits of low power consumption and cooler environment. The first half of this year again saw the installation of new equipment, which includes the Midas XL8 audio mixing console, sound-reinforcement system, microphone system, and commu- nication and intelligent lighting systems. ABS-CBN is likely to stay in upgrade mode until next year. The broadcaster said "upgrade is not an option". It is obliged to up- grade and replace old equipment due to the increasing demands of programme and content deploy- ment. Besides, the broadcaster needs to not only cope with local production requirements, but also meet production needs at international standards. Top: As part of its plans to produce more HD content, ABS-CBN's Production department installed Avid's ProTools systems for its audio post needs. Left: With ABS-CBN's new ISIS Unity, the Production department now has 120TB worth of storage for its content. Far left: Mastering suite with DS Nitris workstation.