ABC Nightline

The “ABC Nightline” staff had become used to dealing with an unusual problem… they would regularly “crash” long-form broadcasts. It was not unusual for
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The “ABC Nightline” staff had become used to dealing with an unusual problem… they would regularly “crash” long-form broadcasts. It was not unusual for them to produce a thirty-minute, all-tape, broadcast in a twelve-hour day. They would often work in six editing rooms with six editors cutting the broadcast, with everyone working off of shared material. But the days of passing tapes and screaming “I need tape 26 as soon as you're done” are over.

The staff has also worked to be able to re-purpose their material. At one point they were cutting five “Nightline” half-hours on “The Clinton Years” while doing a 90-minute version for “PBS Frontline.”

They regularly edit long stories under the deadline pressure of a daily, hard news broadcast. Their greatest challenge has been to prove that the Avid system is fast enough to meet their deadlines.

A major goal has been to move the editors and producers into the digital 21st century, which would help give them the skills needed to keep pace with technology.

Nightline was fortunate in that their conversion to nonlinear editing was part of a complete renovation of the Nightline office area. Prior to this renovation/conversion, their editors utilized linear edit rooms in the main edit area. This resulted in producers running up and down stairs carrying armfuls of cassettes. Now the editors utilize new Avid edit rooms that are located within Nightline's space at the ABC Washington News Bureau. The edit rooms are almost twice as large as their standard bureau rooms. The producers are just steps from the editors, and the editors feel that they are much more a part of Nightline's operation.

The new Avid edit rooms are all digital; however, they can connect to the existing analog routing system, enabling them to take in analog satellite, microwave and tape feeds from the rest of the bureau.

Avid was involved in the initial installation of the system, but the majority of the work, including system design, installation, upgrading and maintenance was performed by ABC's Washington engineering staff.

The facility is currently accomplishing its goals splendidly. They are creating two separate 30-minute broadcasts for air every night, as well as producing material for other broadcasts and long-form projects. This is not to say that their initial conversion was flawless, though. They started this conversion in 1998, and were a little too ahead of the curve in terms of the hardware available at the time. Their initial goal was to have producers work at their desktops using browse-quality video, but they are still working to make that work to their satisfaction.

Equipment List

Avid:
Unity for News server
MediaManager
NewsCutter
iNEWS newsroom computer system

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