Digital Rapids Streamlines Ops at Torstar

A key element of the project was the need to efficiently move content in multiple formats between our editing, production and playout facilities.
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Greg Wynter
TORONTO
TMGTV operates Shop TV Canada, a 24-hour direct-response television channel, and also TMGTV Productions, which produces infomercials both for Shop TV Canada and for other clients.

Last summer, we began to a project to redesign and relocate our master control operations. A very aggressive schedule provided us with only 28 days to build the new master control, playout and monitoring installation, as well as editing suites, and to link them all together while staying on the air. A key element of the project was the need to efficiently move content in multiple formats between our editing and production facility in Hamilton, Ontario and our Toronto playout facility.

IP FILE TRANSFER SOLUTION

We determined that IP-based file transfer was the best approach for transferring content. Aside from cost considerations, transporting video tapes between facilities is no longer practical even locally, as manpower is limited. Moving the media as files instead of tapes would also allow us to keep them in their native format, as we work in many different compression and container formats, including DVCPRO, DVCPRO HD, DVCAM, HDCAM, XDCAM, Red, Avid DNxHD, MPEG-2 and GXF.

To make all of this happen, we needed a product that could handle flexible, high-demand file transfer between the two sites. And given our tight timeframes, we needed a proven solution—we had no time for guess work or configuration headaches.

As a result, we have now standardized on the Digital Rapids C2 file delivery software. A C2 Server and C2 Engine were deployed at our Hamilton location, transferring to and from a second C2 Engine at our Toronto playout facility. Unlike many delivery services and systems, C2 doesn’t require content to be in any particular format—it’s completely agnostic to file type. It acts just like the network equivalent of a transport truck—transferring any type of file and making sure it arrives correctly at the receiving location.

AVIOIDING CONFLICTS

Another feature that we like about C2 is its rate control capability. Even though we have a private network connecting the two facilities on an MPLS circuit, we share it with reporters who are filing time-critical stories for the Toronto Star newspaper. C2’s rate control and scheduling allow us to manage our bandwidth usage to ensure that our file transfers don’t interfere with the other users on the network.

We’ve also standardized on Digital Rapids HD/SD encoding systems for ingesting and transforming content. In addition to encoding content into MPEG-2 in the GXF file format for use with our playout servers, we also use them to encode client approval copies of editing projects, and plan to also use them to encode media for viewing on the iPhone and iPad.

The best summary of the Digital Rapids solutions in our new workflows is that they “just worked,” delivering on their promises without deployment hassles, thus helping us to successfully meet our short timelines.

Digital Rapids encoders are effortlessly transforming incoming content for compatibility with our legacy servers and other new applications, while C2 is constantly moving media files reliably between our facilities in whatever format we need while being friendly to other network traffic.

Greg Wynter is manager of engineering and technology at Torstar Media Group Television, and has more than 15 years of television industry experience. He may be contacted at gwynter@tmgtv.ca.

For additional information, contact Digital Rapids at 905-946-9666 or visit www.digital-rapids.com.