John Wallace, a producer for BocaTV, a public access channel in Baco Raton, Fla., finds that life is simpler with a well-designed asset management system.
BocaTV is the government access channel operated by the City of Boca Raton, Fla. Seen on Comcast Channel 20, BocaTV carries the city’s regular council meetings (both live and taped), as well as training and educational videos, and simulcasts from the Florida Channel, Palm Beach County TV. It also shows NASA TV when city programming is not being aired.
Despite its 24/7 schedule, BocaTV’s staff consists of just two video producers/multimedia specialists: Mark Witzen and John Wallace.
“For years, we operated using manually-triggered S-VHS tape decks and computer-generated bulletin boards,” said Witzen. “Then we switched to an end-to-end asset management system, and everything changed. Today, the switching and playout at BocaTV is as smooth and controlled as any network TV affiliate―and there’s still only two of us!”
THE BOCATV SOLUTION
In the case of BocaTV, this city of 84,392 people adopted Primestream’s FORK asset management solution and its associated CityCaster video broadcast automation system for government.
“We choose Primestream because we work in Final Cut Pro, and their FORK platform integrates easily with it,” John Wallace explained.
With FORK and CityCaster, BocaTV has been able to overhaul its video production, playout, and storage system. All video content for the channel―whether from remote cameras in the council chambers, satellite feeds or DVDs sent in by mail―are played through Primestream encoders, which then store the transcoded files to BocaTV’s video server. (Council and town hall meetings are also played out live.) The content is then saved on the city’s RAID (redundant array of independent disks) hard disk archive, with council meetings also being burned to DVD for long-term storage.
Evertz OvertureRT Live
“The whole idea of the FORK solution is to make it very easy for users to ingest, edit, log, store, playout and archive video files,” said Claudio Lisman, Primestream’s president and CEO. “FORK’s asset management module―the Content Navigator―makes searching for specific stories based on metadata very easy. It’s just like using a conventional search engine.”
The move to Primestream’s asset management solution has revolutionized how BocaTV is run. “Before, it was all by hand; now our entire end-to-end video chain is automated,” Witzen said. “This has not only improved our on-air presentation, but allowed us to add much more content to our lineup. For instance, during hurricane season, BocaTV serves as a go-to source for local emergency and weather information, in real-time.”
The best part: Witzen and Wallace can make changes to BocaTV remotely over the Internet. “This is important because both of us live outside Boca Raton, and thus outside the reach of Cable 20 on Comcast,” Wallace said. “With FORK and CityCaster, we can log onto BocaTV from our homes over the Web, see what’s happening and make program/lineup changes on the fly. This remote access also ensures that we can keep managing BocaTV even if the weather prevents us from getting to our facility at Boca Raton City Hall.”
THE SDCOE UPGRADE
In California, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) runs two 24/7 TV channels: ITV (K-12 educational content and third-party programming) and San Diego Public Access Television (local video productions). Reaching cable audiences of 850,000 and 350,000 households respectively, SDCOE has a lot of people to keep happy―and a lot of video content to manage.
“We were originally using a Sundance automation system and Leitch broadcast server,” said Chris Brawner, SDCOE’s senior director. “But the server was reaching the end of its lifespan, and our old automation system had limits. So we went with something new; namely NVerzion automation combined with Harmonic’s Spectrum MediaDeck and MediaCenter video servers, as well as Harmonic’s Omneon MediaGrid shared storage system.”
Harmonic MediaGrid ContentStore 3160
The complete NVerzion automation system includes NControlMC master control transmission playlists, NGest professional dubbing and recording software, NTime record event scheduling, NPoint video preparation software for segmenting and trimming, the creative protocol interface module (CPIM) for BXF traffic communications, and dual/redundant EMC-NT Ethernet machine controls.
“Our old Leitch server only had 3TB of storage,” said Alex Brawner, SDCOE’s engineer. “Our new MediaCenter has 6TB, our MediaDeck has 4TB and our MediaGrid, which acts as our archive, has 48 TB. So video storage space is no longer an issue.”
For SDCOE, upgrading to the NVerzion/Harmonic platform has made its end-to-end workflow much simpler and easier to manage.
“One reason is that the NVerzion XPansion asset management software provides programmable workflow rules to allow us to specify when a program should be shifted from the video server to the MediaGrid, and vice versa,” Brawner said. “Meanwhile, the deep video storage we now have means that we no longer have to re-ingest programs into our playout server over and over again. We just take it in once, move the program to archive when it is out of active rotation, then the NVerzion automation system guarantees all the content gets transferred back to the appropriate playout video servers when we need it again.”
“The current SDCOE installation has enough headroom that they could add a third 24/7 channel, said Reed Haslam, Nverzion's director of sales and marketing. “It’s not just a matter of capacity: The system has such end-to-end capability that it could handle this extra workflow without taxing SDCOE’s existing production staff.”
ASSET MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS
Clearly, asset management systems can bring a lot of management power and capability to government video departments. But it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” solution: Different departments need solutions tailored to their requirements; be they small, medium or large in scope.
A case in point: Small video departments might want to consider products made by Rushworks, which specializes in cost-effective, easy-to-install-and-use software/hardware solutions for municipalities.
“These solutions allow a single operator to produce and record multi-camera meetings and events, as well as create and maintain automated schedules for cable playback and streaming,” said Rush Beesley, president of Rushworks. “We’ve found the simplest way to manage the ongoing accumulation of files―digital assets―is to incorporate the use of a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server. NAS provides inexpensive and extensible storage platforms with built-in data and power supply redundancy.”
NAS-based storage systems are easy to scale up for more capacity, simply by adding as many NAS servers as needed, he added.
“Once you’ve acquired your inexpensive NAS hardware platform, you can create a “from scratch” data management architecture that is simple to use and easy to understand for everyone.”
Rushworks A-List Asset Management system
Snell’s Momentum media asset management (MAM) product can provide end-to-end asset management of medium and large production systems.
“The nice thing about Momentum is that you can build the system yourself using a drag-and-drop user interface,” said Ian Young, Snell’s product specialist for Snell TV Everywhere. “It also integrates with third-party archiving systems such as Front Porch Digital’s DIVArchive, so you can use Momentum to add capabilities to existing video storage.”
Evertz offers a complete end-to-end video workflow solution. It includes the Mediator content management and workflow platform, Media Server (EMS), OvertureRT LIVE (channel playout), and Magnum Unified Control System for integrating routing, master control, branding, switching and transport.
USEFUL ADD-ONS, PAYOFFS
Some companies make products that make asset management systems easier to work with. One of these is Archimedia Technology, which makes a VTR-style Master Player, complete with external jog/shuttle wheel, for viewing archived video files accurately and simply.
“The Archimedia Master Player brings all the useful features of the VTR to asset management systems,” said Josef Marc, Archimedia’s chief marketing officer.
The Master Player can work with formats such as DPX, DCP, JPEG 2000, uncompressed, Ultra HD, broadcast HD, and 4K/UHDTV over HDMI and SDI display connections, as well as Fibre Channel and 10 Gb Ethernet.
Amberfin’s iCR (intelligent Content Repurposing) Transcode platform makes extracting content from asset management and then transcoding it into another format both straightforward and reliable.
“What our iCR Transcode is convert what you have into what you need,” said Amberfin CTO Bruce Devlin. “Meanwhile, our QC process checks your product at every step of the way, to ensure that the transcoded video is of the highest possible quality.”
The payoff from these and the other products covered in this article is a more efficient, more accessible, and low-frustration end-to-end workflow. The simple truth is that asset management is an indispensable part of any modern video production unit, no matter how small or large it may be.
For More Info:
Archimedia Technology: www.archimediatech.com