KWTV moves to digital archives with Telestream's MAPreview

Randy Cassimus, KWTV director of production, and Blaise Labbe, news director, review three newscasts simultaneously using Telestream’s MAPreview.

Scrambling for tapes used to be common practice at Griffin Communications' KWTV, the CBS affiliate and only locally-owned station in the Oklahoma City market. The station recorded all programming onto VHS tapes, which involved multiple VHS tape machines going nonstop, 24 hours a day.

In addition, all newscasts were recorded onto Beta machines. This required a great deal of machine maintenance, tape handling and space to hold the tapes. Ad-run verification alone was a time-consuming, labor-intensive effort that involved many people. When an account executive called, we had to scour our shelves to locate the appropriate air-check tape, load and queue the eight-hour recording down to the commercial in question, view it, and dub a copy to send to the client.

This exercise cost us thousands of dollars in tape machines, maintenance and tapes, as well as hundreds of square feet of shelf space. The station decided it was time to replace our massive tape-based archives and processes with a more efficient file-based digital archiving solution.

The solution

In April 2005, we purchased and installed the Telestream MAPreview digital video capture and logging system. The system offered just the solution we needed. Installation of the software and RAID drives and training led by Telestream applications engineer David Piazzese took two days and went very smoothly.

The system is a server-based application that provides automatic multi-feed media recording, simple organization and easy-to-use desktop PC viewing. Metadata such as closed captioning, timecode, keyframes and as-run logs are captured during ingest, and custom metadata labels can be added. These important metadata enable efficient searching of media. We have even programmed our system to automatically display ratings data with the video every quarter-hour. MAPreview definitely makes our operation much more efficient, and it has been an important step in our migration to digital technology.

Figure 1. MAPreview automatically records multiple video feeds and captures metadata during ingest. Media are encoded and stored using the Windows Media 9 Series. Click here to see an enlarged diagram.

Using the new system, we now capture and archive all programming in a Windows Media 9 format onto MAP media capture servers. (See Figure 1.) The files are segmented hourly and are held for nine months for compliance with possible BMI and ASCAP audits, ad-run verification, program analysis and executive review.

We also use the system to capture and archive our competitors' programming 24 hours a day. Competitor files are held for one month and used by the marketing and news departments for strategic purposes. In addition, newscast blocks are archived in higher resolution formats for marketing use and awards submission. All material is stored on RAID-arrayed LaCie drives, which total about 3.6TB of usable space.

With the new system, it's easy to organize media files and set up folders that execute intelligent tasks. Media files can be dragged, or saved from an editing application, to preconfigured folders, where tasks such as indexing, transcoding and delivery to other devices or network folders are automatically executed. The system features auto-archiving of media files onto DVD, CD or networked storage, while keeping metadata online for searching purposes.

The system also allows us to pull up our newscasts alongside our competitors' and watch all three shows simultaneously on our desktop PCs.

One of our favorite features is the ability to call up files, trim out clips from the recordings and e-mail them. For instance, remember the ad-verification scenario I mentioned earlier? Today, the account executive logs onto the system from her PC, calls up the timeframe, locates the spot, trims it out and e-mails it as a Windows Media file to the client. The production department phone never rings!

Randy Cassimus is director of production for KWTV, Oklahoma City, OK.