Master control operator Mikaela Shea performs duties in the new VPT digital master control facility. Photos courtesy Ron Clark, VPT Vermont Public Television (VPT) is a PBS member station that reaches viewers across the state and in bordering regions of New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and southern Quebec. Early in 2008, we began a rebuild of our facility here involving the creation of a digital master control operation, along with new storage, editing and monitoring systems that supported a tapeless workflow. These HD-capable systems have not only facilitated a far more streamlined workflow, but also are providing a foundation for our shift to HD along with PBS on the national level.
The shift to file-based operations was designed to improve both internal workflow and the use of assets. Our Omneon Spectrum media server system provides a versatile and scalable platform for ingest and playout.
Though the decision to invest in an Omneon Spectrum system was made before I became a part of VPT, I understand very well the reasons behind this choice, having worked with the Spectrum at other stations. It gives us the freedom to play out any asset on any channel without worrying about format. As a result, we can accept programming from PBS in either SD or HD, always recording the highest resolution possible, and then having the ability to play it out in the appropriate format on one of our four channels.
The Omneon Spectrum server system The Spectrum's internal up/down/cross-conversion capability allows us to treat each stored asset in the same manner, regardless of its format when first received at our facility, whether from PBS, acquired locally, or transferred from our Final Cut Pro editing systems. The Omneon TrackTool inserts AFD information into clips to tag odd aspect ratios. With this capability, our staff can ensure that the aspect ratio is appropriate for the playout channel. The server's multichannel audio capabilities also simplify our workflow as we record a full surround audio mix, SAP, descriptive audio, and a locally created stereo mix along with HD video. Because we can record audio as embedded into the video, keeping track of all 10 audio channels is not an issue.
We're also planning to take advantage of the server's closed captioning tools, as its unique file-based architecture facilitates offline captioning of local programming.
TIGHT AUTOMATION CONTROL
All four channels of our program streams are played out from the Omneon Spectrum system under the control of Crispin automation. The tight integration of the systems made their installation the easiest part of the project. VPT maintains a large volume of archive material, with 10,000 hours on tape and footage dating back to the 1960s. We plan to integrate a Crispin archive system with the Omneon server and our automation system, archiving new programs and, on an as-needed basis, converting old programs to file-based assets for nearline storage or long-term storage on Blu-ray.
A simple expansion of our 7 TB Omneon system will accommodate the migration to HD and continued playout of SD channels as long as we need to. The Spectrum is a great fit for us because of its modular, format-independent design. The system has made our original investment "future-proof" and is supporting a smooth, easy upgrade to HD.
Joe Tymecki is VPT's Director of Engineering based in Colchester, VT. He recently joined VPT following management and engineering positions with national and local broadcasters. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
For additional information, contact Omneon at 408-585-5140 or visit www.omneon.com.