OPB Taps Harmonic for Multimedia Production

PORTLAND, ORE.—Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) television and radio services cover about 90 percent of Oregon and provide the only continuous news source within the state. We have five TV stations, 18 radio stations and a sophisticated Web department, so we're a very popular news source. We've even seen membership gains during the recession, and we attribute this growth to Oregonians' desire for in-depth programs.

Don McKay To keep up with new technology and with how viewers and listeners consume our content, we made the creation of a flexible multimedia production environment a key element of our transition from linear editing to nonlinear systems and workflow. As OPB also provides Web content, we needed a next-generation storage solution that could handle all types of media and support production across all outlets.


We elected to install Harmonic's Omneon MediaGrid active storage system along with FilmPartners' MXFserver project and media management system, as this combination supports a number of nonlinear editing platforms. We had previously replaced our online broadcast servers with Harmonic's Omneon Spectrum systems, as we found the MediaGrid system was one of few that would allow us to make content available across our various operations. In bringing our staff closer to media, we've also rearranged the offices of our radio, TV, and Web producers, who now all work in one large room and communicate more easily.

Our workflow process starts with content acquisition via tape or Sony XDCAM HD. This content is brought into the MediaGrid system via the MXFserver, which then creates bins and everything else needed for long-form projects, such as "History Detectives." The content resides in the MediaGrid system until it is sent to air or is used by our Web staff or others.

Finished content for broadcast and the Web is distributed in multiple formats, with a Harmonic ProMedia Carbon encoder performing the necessary transcoding. We maintain finished content either on the MediaGrid system or archive it to tape, depending on how we plan to use it. Program content edited for local and regional broadcast is stored on our Spectrum server system, which communicates very smoothly with the MediaGrid storage system, providing simple and reliable file handling.


Marrying all these workflow processes together is still a new approach to broadcasters, and we're very fortunate that our radio, TV, and Web teams work well and communicate together in sharing the information and media they gather as a single multimedia content-production group. This interaction has made it much easier to preview content and offer timely and engaging program and news-related information via social media outlets.

Instead of sticking our heads in the sand during tough economic times and doing nothing, we've looked at opportunities to change how we do business given the new technologies. Solutions such as the Omneon MediaGrid storage system and MXFserver system not only help us do more with less, they also give us the flexible infrastructure we need to use next-generation technology and platforms to serve our listeners and viewers.

Don McKay has been with Oregon Public Broadcasting for 12 years. He may be contacted at dmckay@opb.org.

For additional information, contact Harmonic at 800-788-1330 or visit www.harmonicinc.com.