TORONTO—Channel Zero is the parent company to two off-air-delivered television channels and we also transmit a number of other privately-owned channels, bringing to 10 the number of channels originating from facilities here. With this sort of responsibility, workflow optimization and automation have been the keys to our operation's success.
A TAPELESS AUTOMATED FUTURE
Early on in our existence, we knew that to be able to live up to such challenges, we would have to adopt a tapeless workflow as early as possible. We knew also that we would have to tap the benefits that are available in a well designed broadcast automation system.
We use a mixture of Florical automation and Omneon video servers in our daily operation. Florical has provided us with the stability and flexibility that we need to deal with last second changes, whether it's for live events or changes to rearrange things during live news broadcasts. And the company's support team has been tremendous to work with and has worked hard to fit their automation system into our workflow, rather than imposing a stock workflow of their own on us.
The Omneon server system has really proven to be a workhorse for us—it worked out of the box, and just keeps on working.
After configuration, the system has required nothing from the engineering team. Florical has integrated things with our own nearline drive system. This approach copies files to the online Omneon servers as necessary, and also archives all our files automatically. The automated records thus created have enabled us to efficiently schedule repeat programming of live events that are used on several of our channels. The prerecord commands can be set up for recording and scheduling the repeat broadcast with complete confidence and with little or no human intervention.
There is a lot of fuss being made these days about all-in-one "station-in-a-box" systems. While such systems are definitely less expensive than an automation package such as ours, they do suffer from an architecture that has single point of failure. The Florical automation system, teamed with our Omneon video servers, has been one of the best business decisions that we've ever made.
NEWS OPERATION BENEFITS
Our automation system has helped the situation in another area too. Our ENG crews shoot directly to disk and edit directly on the recorded media and export content directly to the nearline system. From there the automation moves the files onto the online system as they are needed. The systems perform these transfers via multiple bonded gigabit Ethernet, and are able to move the files very efficiently without the necessity of changing out our current infrastructure. This ensures the least amount of human intervention possible, and permits editors to spend their time editing content, rather than managing files, as the computers have now taken on such monotonous tasks.
Engineering is an agile field, with creative thinking making the difference between success and failure. Our department is fortunate to have benefitted from the creative thinking that went into our Florical automation system.
Scott Barry has been employed in digital media, film, and television for the past 15 years. He currently works as an engineering supervisor at Channel Zero. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Florical at 352-372-8326 or visit florical.com.
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