03.01.2008 12:00 PM
Engineering Excellence Awards

WINNER:
AARP

Category

New studio or RF technology — station

Submitted by

Lawson & Associates Architects

AARP

Winner of new studio or RF technology — station

In the AARP 12,000sq-ft facility, the group wanted the equipment to represent forward thinking, and with the exception of two studios, the entire plant was rebuilt.

The association wanted upbeat colors, special wall materials, special light fixtures, and for everyone to be able to see what was being done in all the control rooms, and yet when necessary, have privacy. The answer: glass with a light switch! An added benefit is that smart glass saves costs for heating and cooling and lighting, as well as avoids the cost of installing and maintaining motorized light screens or blinds.

AARP selected equipment with long-term growth and interoperability in mind. The NVISION routing system, the core of the technical operations center, consists of an NV8256-Plus digital video router, NV7256-Plus synchronous AES router and NV5128 analog video router, as well as RS-422 data and time-code routing. The NV8256-Plus router along with all plant wiring is fully capable with 3Gb/s SMPTE 324 1080P video. Euphonix Max Air audio platforms, Sony MVS8000 switcher systems and Barco video walls driven by Evertz MVP processors are used in the production control rooms.

The electronics were designed by the AARP engineering department in VidCad for ease of change and documentation capability. No raised floors were used. All cable distribution is on overhead cable trays fitted with accessible hinged custom covers that have magnetic catches for easy access. With AARP's renovated facility, everything is possible.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

New studio or RF technology — station

Submitted by

Brightline

WCCO-TV

By 1956, seven years after its on-air debut, Minneapolis' WCCO-TV was drawing lunch-time crowds outside its studio windows, on which the weatherman would write the day's forecast while those gathered watched themselves on the monitors. This inventive take on technology and a desire to connect with its public have survived to the present day. In the last 18 months, the CBS-owned-and-operated station has inaugurated a reconfigured newsroom and two redesigned broadcast studios.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

New studio or RF technology — station

Submitted by

The Systems Group

WGBH-TV

In May 2005, WGBH-TV broke ground on its new facility in Brighton, MA, the first step in the station's attempt for a smooth transition from its vintage analog A/V plant in Allston, MA, to a new serial digital facility. Located outside of Boston, WGBH produces about one-third of PBS' prime-time programs and serves the New England area with seven local and one national channel.

The workhorse of its new master control room is the Thomson Grass Valley Maestro, because the project called for a switcher with internal branding, audio store and CG.

WINNER:
Televisa

Category

New studio technology — network

Submitted by

Omneon

Televisa

Winner of new studio technology — network

This year, Grupo Televisa, one of the world's largest Spanish-language media corporations, streamlined its broadcast operation. The organization dramatically improved efficiency by implementing an automated, fully tapeless workflow system across its two facilities, Chapultepec and Santa Fe, both located in Mexico City. In collaboration with systems integrator AM Tecnología (AMTEC), Televisa spent many months in planning, design and installation before the new state-of-the-art operation went on the air in fall 2007.

At its Chapultepec broadcast technology center, Televisa produces news and other programming and broadcasts three national channels and one local channel. The facility has a streamlined, futuristic look that reflects its high-tech efficiency. The Santa Fe facility produces reality shows and other programming and ingests commercials for playout.

At the core of Televisa's new infrastructure are an Omneon MediaGrid active storage system and five Omneon Spectrum media servers. The 24TB MediaGrid system at the Chapultepec facility acts as a central nearline repository for content, storing finished material that is subsequently moved to Spectrum servers for playout and to a Tedial media asset management system for archive. The MediaGrid system also provides edit-in-place storage for multiple Apple Final Cut Pro editors.

Four of the Spectrum server systems are located in the Chapultepec facility, with two designated for main and mirrored playout, a third for archiving and a fourth for ingest, primarily of long-form content. Each of these servers includes 16 SD channels and one HD channel, configured for a variety of functions including preview, high-res quality control, ingest and playout. The fifth server was installed at the Santa Fe facility for ingest of commercials that are then transferred under the control of Aveco Astra automation over a private fiber-optic network to the main mirrored playout servers at Chapultepec.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

New studio technology — network

Submitted by

Network Electronics

Pan Am Games

Following five years of preparation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hosted its biggest sporting event in July 2007. The XV Pan American Games kicked off in the city's new Maracana Stadium. A continental version of the global Olympic Games, the competition has been held every four years since 1951. Athletes compete in 34 sports spanning 16 days. In all, 5648 contestants from 42 American nations competed in front of a potential 1 billion global viewers, with live coverage originating from 16 different locations. An elaborate network was designed to support live simultaneous feeds from 10 geographically dispersed events. Some events required multiple feeds.

Network Electronics began working with its Brazilian distributor, Libor, in August 2006 to design and supply a system based on the company's Flashlink fiber-optic transport platform to accommodate situations requiring a mix of HD and SD gear and long-haul transmission. The International Broadcast Center (IBC) provided a signal for major broadcasters around the world.

WINNER:
Globo's Studios

Category

New studio technology — HD

Submitted by

TV GLOBO

Globo's Studios

Winner of new studio technology — HD

The Brazilian network TV GLOBO is known for its production of telenovelas, which dominate primetime viewing. Telenovela is a form of melodramatic serialized fiction produced and broadcast six days a week (a yearly average of 200 episodes each) that attract a broad audience and command the highest advertising rates. GLOBO does not only produce for the local market but also exports its telenovelas worldwide.

With a huge production complex in Rio de Janeiro (CGP), GLOBO has heavily invested in quality and technology, the most important pillars to support its success.

In January 2007, GLOBO upgraded its old SDI studios using a brand new technology based on SMPTE-424/425M, a standard that expands upon SMPTE 259M (143/270/360Mb/s) and SMPTE 292M (1.485Gb/s) providing bit rates of 2.970Gb/s (3G). These bit rates allow the broadcast of 1080/60p 4:2:2 and 1080/60i 4:4:4 formats.

The project's main purpose was to prepare the infrastructure for 3G technology, so the network invested in cables, patches, routing switchers and modules that were already compliant with SMPTE-424M. In the future, the network will continue to upgrade equipment. In the meantime, GLOBO produces both in SDI (SMPTE 259M) and HD-SDI (SMPTE 292M).

Each studio is comprised of four control rooms (technical, video and lighting, production and audio) with five new cameras; four fiber-optic external lines; tape and tapeless recording for postproduction; a multiviewer, providing operational flexibility to the monitor walls; UMD and tally system; new microphones; and a new wireless communication system that offers mobility and additional network managing (SNMP), which supports the whole system. Many design changes were also introduced in the four technical areas, which were fully dismantled and rebuilt.

In August 2007, GLOBO TV started producing the first HDTV telenovela in the new studio.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

New studio technology — HD

Submitted by

Front Porch Digital

KYW-TV

On April 2, 2007, Philadelphia's KYW-TV (CBS 3) broadcast its 11 o'clock news from the station's new 120,000sq-ft facility. It was one of the nation's first all-HD TV stations built from the ground up, and was designed and constructed in less than 10 months.

The facility is also home to WPSG-TV, a CW station. KYW produces five-and-a-half hours of news per day in addition to sports specials and charity fund-raisers. When the station's lease was up, the engineering team saw an opportunity to build an efficient, scalable facility that would also be a pleasant place to work. The team knew this would require a different model for storage and workflow than the SD model, which would soon be overwhelmed by the density of information HD carries.

Key to the success is the digital workflow anchored by Front Porch Digital's DIVArchive content storage management system, which works with Thomson Grass Valley's Aurora editing suite and a Spectra Logic LTO3 library.

WINNER:
National Geographic

Category

New studio technology — nonbroadcast

Submitted by

SGI

National Geographic

Winner of new studio technology — nonbroadcast

National Geographic Digital Motion, the archive and stock footage licensing agent for all National Geographic Television film and video, wanted to transform its analog video archive and licensing business into a streamlined digital workflow. It has more than a century's worth of moving images from around the world, and new footage, much in HD, arrives all the time. The company's key requirement was the ability to store content and deliver content to the Web in uncompressed formats to maintain the highest possible quality.

National Geographic designed the system and selected the various components. For storage, it contacted OSSI, an SGI channel partner, which suggested SGI InfiniteStorage as the major storage and file-sharing component. The SGI InfiniteStorage CXFS shared filesystem and SGI InfiniteStorage arrays optimize delivery of rich-media content and seamlessly support a variety of complex transactions.

One of the biggest challenges was the amount of data that would be brought into the system. When National Geographic encodes video, three different file formats are created at the same time: uncompressed, MPEG-2 and MPEG-1. The uncompressed data alone is about 100GB per hour.

National Geographic encodes its tapes into an asset management system backed with 34TB shared over two SGI InfiniteStorage TP9300 systems and a later-added additional 35TB of storage on a SGI InfiniteStorage 4000 system. The SGI storage is where operators catalog the clips with keywords and push them out to an external Web site to allow customers to preview the content and determine their purchases. Once licensed, that content is played out via the SGI SAN and made available in multiple formats, including NTSC, PAL and DVD as before, and now files over FTP. National Geographic will soon be able to encode clips in HD and offer customers all high-definition formats.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

New studio technology — nonbroadcast

Submitted by

Communications Engineering Inc.

First Baptist Church of Glenarden

In September 2007, the First Baptist Church of Glenarden built a new 205,000sq-ft structure that features state-of-the-art live production and broadcast capabilities inside a theater-style sanctuary capable of seating 4000 attendees. Key production system goals for the new facility were to provide high-quality coverage of the services and events; enable fast, efficient distribution of recorded services in various formats on a large scale; and enhance the worship experience of the attendees and home viewers. The church hired Communications Engineering Inc. (CEI) to design, integrate and install a network-quality live production facility. RCI Sound Systems provided a concert-grade sound system, and RJC Designs developed the original system concept and preliminary design.

WINNER:
KEYE-TV

Category

Station automation

Submitted by

VCI Solutions

KEYE-TV

Winner of station automation

One of the biggest challenges a station can face is taking an existing DOS, a highly customized legacy system and replacing it. This is exactly what KEYE-TV had to do this past year in upgrading its facility from the CBS Group-W-designed TMRT system.

There were the usual considerations like master control features, functionality and scalability. Additional system requirements for KEYE included content delivery integration and satellite integration. But, the true test of a system would be its flexibility to integrate and comply with a workflow that was already highly customized.

After an exhaustive search, KEYE found not only everything that it needed, but everything that it wanted in the autoXe automation system from VCI Solutions. The master control functionality and flexibility is there — and then some.

“I'm a computer-oriented person, so when we started talking about SQL, SOA and true relational databases, I knew the system was carefully thought out with a true understanding of what today and tomorrow's broadcast environment was going to be like,” said George Todd, KEYE maintenance engineer.

A few of the capabilities that the team at KEYE likes are Video Spy, logging capability, vertical and horizontal view of the delivery manager, and the versatility of the workstations because they can do all jobs.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

Station automation

Submitted by

Thomson Grass Valley

WFSB-TV

Meredith's CBS affiliate WFSB-DT began broadcasting from its new 60,000sq-ft Rocky Hill, CT, HD-SDI plant in June, calling it a broadcast production dream come true. The new facility features all aspects of the production process on the first floor, streamlining a hectic workflow that formerly included four floors in a 46-year-old building. The rooms feature a variety of Thomson Grass Valley equipment, including nine Aurora Edit SC and XT news editing systems.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

Station automation

Submitted by

Sundance Digital

WFUM-TV

To get from a tape-lugging analog facility to fully digital, automated, tapeless multichannel HD at WFUM-TV called for good planning, patience, ingenuity and unique, cost-saving engineering solutions. As the PBS member station licensed to the Regents of the University of Michigan in Flint, MI, funding arrives intermittently and is never enough to do major projects all at once. Fortunately, the station made the transition in smart phases. At the core is Sundance Digital Titan automation.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

Station automation

Submitted by

Utah Scientific

WQED-TV

Pittsburgh's WQED-TV, the first public broadcaster in the nation and home of “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,” is now the one of the first HD broadcasters and production centers in its tri-state region, thanks to a major renovation of master control and editing, as well as new audio and video control rooms. WQED has been transmitting in HD since 2002, but prior to this upgrade, it was only able to transmit PBS's HD feeds. A Utah Scientific UTAH-400 routing switcher ties the facility together.

WINNER:
Ascent Media

Category

Network automation

Submitted by

Sundance Digital

Ascent Media

Winner of network automation

When the additional demands of new business hit Ascent Media, it was time for a bicoastal upgrade. The organization offers broadcast, cable and satellite network distribution solutions from Stamford, CT, and Burbank, CA. The East Coast Network Origination Center (NOC) has handled distribution for the YES Network, A&E Television Networks and the NFL, and recently added the NHL Network. The West Coast NOC distributes the “Classic Arts Showcase,” a free cable TV program, and added ReelzChannel, a cable and satellite network, to its roster.

The new networks meant that an infusion of advanced, scalable and reliable technology was needed to provide the highest quality transmission service that caters to high-profile sports and entertainment channels. The dynamic nature of sports networks typically requires individual live master control rooms, while entertainment programming needs more efficient multichannel operations.

Ascent Media opted to unify each origination center under the central control of a robust automation configuration. In the end, it chose nearly identical, but individually operated, fully redundant, multichannel Sundance Digital Titan automation solutions.

The new automation systems enable Ascent to add channels easily to Titan as its roster grows. Recently, an additional three channels were added for agile, on-demand stations to accommodate live events as needed.

Each highly scalable configuration drives an Omneon Spectrum server and Harris IconMaster master control switchers for branding. Sundance Digital's MediaCacher was installed in both locations to efficiently and robotically cache content from tape to the servers.

Although the Titans are near mirror images of each other, some individuality was required to maximize efficiency. The spontaneous nature of the sports networks serviced by Stamford's playback center required a system responsive to real-time, last-minute playlist changes due to game timeouts, rain delays and the like. Sundance Digital's NewsRecorder was installed to achieve the live ingest of sporting events for server-based playback.

In Burbank, Titan drives a Front Porch/StorageTek archive system that is an important component of the entertainment-centric ReelzChannel and “Classic Arts Showcase.”

In Stamford, each channel operates from its own master control room. In Burbank, the networks are managed in a multicustomer room. Both facilities are multicustomer installations and require significant scalability.

The new automation solution cost-effectively increases Ascent's existing platform to accommodate additional customers without needing to purchase a new automation system each time business grows.

WINNER:
Intelligent Tool

Category

Newsroom technology

Submitted by

TV GLOBO

Intelligent Tool

Winner of newsroom technology

Because Brazil has continental dimensions, news is the key tool to integrate all regions of the country and is the main GLOBO production, with a total of 58,000 hours per year produced by 3000 journalists. GLOBO's newscast schedule is divided into local and network newscasts from morning to evening. Each affiliate produces up to 13 hours of weekly news for its districts and sends content to network headquarters for broadcast.

Traditionally, content was exchanged via microwave or satellite links in real time, which means booking complexity and limited time windows in expensive communication channels. But since July 2007, GLOBO and its affiliates have operated a customized system to exchange off-air news content using IP technology over a robust and private broadband network.

This Intelligent Tool shares the content produced by each affiliate based on 24/7 operations. All participants are able to search, select, watch low-res content (LR=WM@256Kb/s) and retrieve high-res files (HR=WM@4Mb/s). The system provides security settings for protecting confidential information and defines rights management for content usage. Each affiliate can automatically manage the files' download priority according to its program guide. Other important features include archive control, partial retrieval, customized reports and peer-to-peer sharing between affiliates.

The system architecture is comprised of an SQL redundant central database, a redundant central DNS Web server, workstations and MPLS network technology.

All content shared in the new system is available 24/7 over a reliable private network with firewall and cryptography protections, which equates to three times the savings when compared with the booked and rented A/V satellite or microwave links.

The application has a user-friendly Web GUI for the journalists, who can watch the low-res clips before asking for the high-res content, which is transferred at least two times faster than real time.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

Newsroom technology

Submitted by

CNN/Frontline Communications

CNN

CNN first used a mobile news bureau to cover the presidential campaign in 2004, which was a 1980 tour coach. Although crude in design, with folding tables and virtually no connectivity, its potential for much more was obvious. In 2005, CNN decided that a fully customized conversion could provide a premier workspace and give the connectivity that had been missing from the previous coach.

David Bohrman, CNN's Washington, D.C., bureau chief and senior VP, wanted to create a multiuse platform that would provide a combination HD studio, satellite transmission center and newsroom with an editing suite. The project required contributions across several disciplines. Frontline, a builder of satellite transmission trucks, provided overall project management and installation of the broadcast electronics. Parliament Motor Coach provided coach interior outfitting and chassis modifications. CNN's willingness to think outside the norm in broadcast vehicle design illustrates its commitment to deliver the highest quality news reporting.

WINNER:
NBA Entertainment

Category

Post & network production facilities

Submitted by

SGI

NBA Entertainment

Winner of post & network production facilities

NBA Entertainment's (NBAE) all-digital, centralized media production and asset management facility in Secaucus, NJ, has been fully functional for more than a year. The SGI-integrated workflow has allowed the NBAE to capture, catalog and store every play as it happens in real time. The SAN, based on an SGI InfiniteStorage CXFS shared filesystem, provides real-time storage for high-res online editing systems while handling low-res proxy and cue management using NBA-written applications. During daily broadcast production, the NBAE ingested more than 45,000 assets into the system over the last year, storing about 30,000 hours of content, or a little more than 1.5 petabytes of data. Those assets are a combination of all of last season's live NBA games and field material, plus historic content.

The volume of asset ingest is significantly more than SGI or NBAE anticipated in the initial system design, which was conceived as having at least two years of built-in growth capacity. The NBAE originally planned to take up to seven years to get the entire archive, dating back to 1946, into digital format. In order to take better advantage of the workflow improvements, the NBAE has accelerated its library conversion. Doubling the size of the media management system, where material is ingested into the SGI storage using Snell & Wilcox iCR encoders, will allow for as many as 100,000 assets to be ingested annually.

To meet this directive, a second 3000-slot StorageTek SL 8500 robot system is being added, which will take the NBAE's total nearline capacity to 6000 LTO data tapes and significantly improve workflow by moving data into the system quicker and retrieving data more rapidly. The Fibre Channel fabric is expanding from 128 ports to 192 ports, and the system is migrating from SGI's legacy technology to three SGI Altix 450 systems, each with 16 Intel Itanium 2 processors and 16GB RAM per processor, running Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

Post & network production facilities

Submitted by

Communications Engineering Inc.

Library of Congress

In Culpeper, VA, the Library of Congress' new Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC) houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of films, TV programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings. It contains underground storage for this entire collection — 5.7 million items — on 90mi of shelving, along with extensive modern facilities for the acquisition, digitization, cataloging and preservation of all audiovisual formats.

The Library of Congress began planning for the NAVCC about 10 years ago. One of the primary goals was the digital duplication and storage of all the items that would be kept at the campus. The Library of Congress hired Communications Engineering Inc. (CEI) to handle the installation and integration of all the equipment. CEI began working on the project in August 2006.

WINNER:
30 Rock

Category

IPTV and mobile technology

Submitted by

NBC Universal

30 Rock

Winner of IPTV and mobile technology

NBC Universal receives more than 100 remote feeds to its headquarters in New York City. In the past, these signals were distributed via an analog closed circuit Cat 5 system used for monitoring purposes by the news and sports production staff. This Cat 5 system was available only in key production areas, and every channel of the 850MHz plant was occupied.

Recently MSNBC moved to 30 Rock with an additional 50 new remote feeds that needed to be monitored throughout the facility. Adding to the existing analog system was out of the question. A digital cable (QAM) technology was considered; however, this would require a new digital cable-ready TV or set-top box for every user, a logistical and financial challenge. An IPTV approach operating on the corporate LAN allows all users equal access to content using existing PCs, regardless of the location in the facility.

The system was designed for 200 SD channels, with plans to add more SD and HD channels in the near future. Because bandwidth was a critical factor of the design, H.264 (MPEG-4) compression was chosen. Operating each service at about 1.7Mb/s yields sufficient quality for monitoring purposes yet occupies a reasonably streamlined profile in the GigE backbone.

Careful planning of our network infrastructure was required. The IPTV traffic shares the same facilities and pipeline as the rest of our corporate data, including e-mail, Web browsing, archiving and various other production tools. We could not afford to disturb any of these. A large task was ensuring that every switch and router was enabled for multicast (IGMP) traffic. We are fortunate that backbone was previously upgraded to GigE so bandwidth to each switch was not considered an obstacle.

The benefit of multicasting is that bandwidth is not occupied on a local network segment unless a request for a service is made by a user. No matter how many users on a segment request the same service, that service doesn't require any more bandwidth than the initial request.

RUNNER-UP:
Category

IPTV and mobile technology

Submitted by

Ross Video

Greene HD Productions

Greene HD Productions in Arlington, TX, decided after building a prototype from a 1998 converted coach to build a luxury HDTV production mobile from scratch, starting with a Prevost XLII 45ft mobile. Teaming up with Marathon Coach, its design goal provided comfort for VIPs and the work crew by offering a good working/living environment, which saved time. This was achieved by offering as many as 12 HD cameras, two advanced edit stations, in-motion editing, tapeless recording environment, stadium seating in the production room, an audio mixing cabin, fiber-based HD-SDI cable, a producer's lounge, a full galley/full bath, and sleeping quarters for up to four people. This not only saves on transportation and hotel costs, but allows the crew to work on the next event while in motion as the mobile is fully functional. The coach features Ross Video's Synergy 1.5 multidefinition digital switcher.



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