CNN serves millions of customers, cable systems, satellite broadcasters and viewers worldwide from its headquarters at CNN Center in Atlanta. As CNN continues to grow, CNN Technology Development researches technology and companies that can provide products to leverage our assets into new networks, as well as increase the efficiencies in the operations of all of our networks.
(click thumbnail)Howard M. Ginsberg uses Florical products to control spot playbacks for CNN and CNNSI.
Such is the case with commercial playback systems. The introduction of video servers has provided the technology to efficiently record, store and playback commercials on all our television news networks.
CNN/Sports Illustrated (CNNSI) was launched in 1996 utilizing Florical Systems AirBoss and SpotCacher automation products and Grass Valley Group Profile video servers for commercial playback. CNN (USA) and CNNSI were the first two CNN Newsgroup networks to combine commercial playback from a single video server, caching commercial content and managing the cache so that commercials are ready for on-air, on-demand playout.
Video servers and their associated automation control have increased the efficiency of our operations, increased our reliability and reduced the risk to on-air commercial playback. Servers also reduced the use of video tape with resultant savings in tape machine maintenance.
At CNN, commercials are ingested via Sony LMSs, using Florical Systems’ SpotCacher product. SpotCacher manages the video server cache based on user-defined parameters and from the daily traffic log it determines which commercials must be ready for on-air presentation.
PURGE AND RECORD
Looking at the commercial logs for both CNN and CNNSI, SpotCacher will purge and record commercials based on their run frequency as needed for on-air playback, managing the finite size of the video server storage. SpotCacher also provides manual control for purging and immediate caching of commercials, if needed.
The Florical database runs on Windows NT 4.0 file servers. CNN chose to install fully redundant AirBoss and SpotCacher products as well as redundant video servers and LAN architecture. Both CNN and CNNSI master control facilities are staffed around the clock and are largely non-automated.
The on-air commercial logs and presentation are managed by Florical’s AirBoss product. During the first three years of use, AirBoss was a DOS product. It provided the necessary editing tools while also providing for quick recovery from a PC crash. (DOS boots much faster than Windows, and when it comes to commercials, even that is too slow.)
Based on the success of three years of operation with the Florical DOS products, CNN purchased the AirBoss for Windows product. At that time, CNN upgraded and installed two separate commercial playback systems for domestic and international operations.
CNN, Headline News, Airport Network and CNNSI are using one Florical System, controlling a pair of GVG PDR-300 Profiles with 30 hours of MPEG-2 storage, for commercial playout. Additionally, CNN uses AirBoss for on-air tape program playback and switcher control, when master control operations dictate that mode.
CNN International and CNN enEspañol use Florical Systems products for commercial presentation on a total of 11 networks. CNN’s International networks now broadcast all commercial content using Florical Systems AirBoss, MediaFiler and SpotCacher products.
All CNN networks use Florical QRCP, Quick Reaction Control panels for manual roll control and can be interfaced for GPI control of the AirBoss. Florical Systems provided the necessary hardware interface for cue tone generation, allowing CNN affiliates to insert local content.
CNN and Florical Systems have worked closely in the development of these products for the past five years. Florical has provided both on-site support and development.
Florical Systems continues to meet with CNN personnel on a weekly basis, providing follow up to discrepancies and integrating new features into its software.
For more information, contact Florical Systems (800-372-4613, www.florical.com)