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06.14.2011
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Apple in the newsroom

One facet of broadcasting that is undergoing great change is the newsroom. Although many broadcasters are dealing with an HD upgrade, that’s not really where the radical changes are happening. From acquisition to delivery, mobile devices are changing the way that news is created and consumed. Dave Van Hoy, president of the Advanced Systems Group (ASG), has been involved in the roll-out of many newsroom systems and has a wide experience of all manner of file-based workflows. ASG has become one of the largest installers of production, post-production and shared storage systems on the West Coast of the United States. Many of the projects could be called “data lifecycle,” as they cover acquisition to archive.

ASG specializes in Apple-based newsroom system. Since Apple made a move into the enterprise space, several vendors have provided interfaces to integrate broadcast products with Apple desktop products. Partners include Gallery with its Sienna range, which integrates media in the QuickTime format with MOS-based newsroom systems, allowing stations to use the Final Cut editing platform, and Primestream’sBuilding 4 Media subsidiary, which uses the Apple platform for broadcast automation as well as newsroom systems. Another vendor is Dalet, which is agnostic to the NLE platform, and interfaces to Apple for desktop editing.

Apple has just announced new imminent product releases, and there will be many changes to accommodate the releases. Van Hoy commented “FCP X will be significant, as will Lion. There is a major shift in the distribution model, with the OS being almost free, and it includes technologies like XSAN as part of the package. There are far more choices (of vendor) for building a newsroom than there were five years ago.”

Although the Apple products have a low-price ticket, any broadcaster wanting to use Apple product must look to an independent system vendor (ISV) for integration and, most important, support.

Apple products are not just being used for editing. In news acquisition, the iPhone and iPad are now being used to capture material, either before the news crew arrive, or instead of a crew. The mobile devices are also being used as production tools, for to remotely access rundowns. In another example of the adoption of consumer devices alongside broadcast technology, Avid’s Interplay Central provides support for a journalist to edit stories and view rundowns via a BlackBerry mobile.

Aside from acquisition and production, another major shift is the impact that social media is having on news operations. Broadcasters can reach out to viewers in a way that was just not possible before. “We see that vendors are figuring out how to integrate with social media and what tools they will provide to enable that integration,” Van Hoy said.

This rapid change in the news business is giving headaches to traditional engineers, who are being made to feel left behind as new media technology accelerates away from them. And it’s not just engineers; station management is also trying to figure out how to pay for these developments and to monetize them.

Van Hoy says, “Higher wireless bandwidth is enabling some remarkable workflows. We are seeing the rise of the video journalist, the writer/shooter/interviewer/producer. The tools are enabling it more and more.” He added that journalists coming out of school today are being trained to use the full gamut of communication, adding to broadcast skills the use of web streaming, mobile and social networking.

Offering advice to a station looking to embrace this new world, Van Hoy said, “The most important thing in planning any new workflow is to look outside your organization to peers or consulting groups that have done it on many different platforms and many different deployments so that you can learn from their experiences. There are so many options and possibilities, it is not possible to do it yourself any more. The challenges you face with all these new delivery paradigms are huge, and if you don’t plan well, mistakes are very expensive.”



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