SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—In the ever-changing landscape of sports broadcasting, meeting the technical requirements for state-of-the-art 4K live sports production is a complex challenge to say the least.
At Fox Sports Australia, we wanted to transform our business toward a new 4K digital era so we needed a storage platform that could support a first-of-its-kind 4K live workflow by providing extreme performance and scalability for live video ingest and highlights-editing, stretching from the live venue to our production facility.
SUMMER OF CRICKET IN 4K
In advance of our 4K Live project covering a summer of cricket, we wanted to test the limits of the Isilon all-flash F800 model. We’ve been using Dell EMC Isilon scale-out network-attached-storage (NAS) as our core media production storage for many years, so with our broadcast production partners at NEP Australia, we chose Dell EMC Isilon F800 all-flash storage to support our production of live sports in 4K UHD video resolution.
After integration testing with EVS and Adobe Premiere Pro, we were very happy with the storage performance and consistency.
With our cricket content broadcast on a new dedicated Foxtel 4K channel, this scale-out NAS solution will allow the Foxtel channel to broadcast in 4K resolution at twice the frame rate of Foxtel’s HD channels—making for smooth, high-quality reproduction of fast-moving live sports action as it happens, when it happens.
To do so requires a quadruple-increase in throughput of live-capture video streams, which of course means updates to the existing production storage and network architecture.
Fox Sports Australia had to significantly boost its 4K live workflow, which called for ultra-high-speed storage capabilities for both the outside-broadcast (OB) and inside our central production facility.
Up to 30 cameras at the sporting venues capture content in 4K and HD, which is produced in the OB vans using EVS live production servers together with Isilon F800 IP-based storage mounted in flyaway cases. Video editors producing highlights and other packages use Adobe Premiere Pro working with 4K and HD clips directly connected to the Isilon F800. Further post-production and content repackaging takes place in real-time back at the Fox Sports Australia HQ. Clips from the OB van are also replicated back to Fox Sports using Isilon’s SyncIQ technology—which takes advantage of the high-bandwidth IP data network provided from the venue by Telstra Broadcast Services.
Clips created in EVS are synchronized from the venue to our production HQ as they are created. All clips are published and available in EVS IPDirector, IPWeb and Adobe Premiere Pro using IPLink. These clips can then be edited into packages for news and studio programs, broadcast on Foxtel and used for OTT delivery to mobile and web platforms.
A big reason for the success of the Isilon F800 all-flash is its ability to absorb both the high throughput and high concurrency associated with the project. This capability, delivered in just 4RU, allowed Isilon F800 systems to be deployed alongside the OB vans supplied by NEP Australia while also substantially reducing the data center rack space, power and cooling needed at Fox Sports headquarters.
Fox Sports has been working with Dell EMC since 2012, with Dell EMC deploying Isilon scale-out NAS storage solutions for its content creation and distribution workflows. The Isilon all-flash storage solution plays an integral role in the framework of the production industry. It’s signaling what’s to come with all- IP 4K content creation and delivery. The next-generation viewing experience is here—and watching live sport will never be the same again.
Robert Oliver is head of technology at Fox Sports Australia, where he has worked for nearly a decade. He can be reached at Robert.Oliver@foxsports.com.au.
For more information, visit www.dellemc.com or call 866-438-3622.