BitCentral's Precis revolutionizes workflow at KRON4-TV

Shown here is the BitCentral Précis with storage.

KRON4-TV in San Francisco is one of the largest news stations in the nation, broadcasting 10 hours of content from more than 20 news shows every day. The decision to move away from a tape-based news system was largely driven by the ability to enable new efficiencies and ways to contribute content.

At KRON4, the goal was not to just digitize the existing workflow; it was to develop an entirely new and more efficient system from capture through archives. The station implemented BitCentral's Précis play-to-air system. Videotape requires many people to manage the process, but managing video content as electronic files can eliminate duplication of effort and many wasteful steps. Moving from physical media such as tape to digital video files is like going from letters and stamps to e-mail.

Some of the processes that were automated or eliminated by moving to a file-based workflow include:

  • Logging tapesThe producer or writer now makes the cuts instead of logging and developing cut sheets given to the editors.
  • Linear editingAll editors, producers, writers and photographers use the same software for nonlinear editing.
  • Tape duplicationBecause multiple people in the station can simultaneously edit a video file, there is no need to duplicate tapes for additional users.
  • Dependence on a video pathVideo can be submitted from anywhere over a broadband wired or wireless connection.
  • Tape playbackThe new system eliminates the labor previously required to prepare hundreds of tapes per day and plug them into decks.
  • Archive tapesEverything that goes to air is automatically archived as files and can be instantly retrieved. The station now stores video on spinning disks, which is cheaper than buying tape stock.
  • Tape deck maintenanceThe entire process is now managed by one rack of nonproprietary industry-standard servers. Maintenance and support of these servers is substantially less than the decks they replaced.

KRON4 streamlined production by integrating BitCentral’s Précis play-to-air system with a Canopus Edius nonlinear video editor and Avid iNEWS newsroom computer system.

One of the key factors of the success at the station is the open architecture that is totally interoperable. The end-to-end system enables the staff to manage all non-live video over the existing Gig-E infrastructure. The transition to HD newsgathering will be a requirement soon, so the system must be able to support all formats and still operate at high speed.

The station purchased a Canopus Edius nonlinear video editing platform because it is similar to other NLEs but has a shorter learning curve. In addition, it works efficiently with any video format, including SD, HD, HDV, MPEG and DV.

Précis is fully integrated with the nonlinear video editor, so editors simply save from the timeline to their stories within a show. The entire news staff continues to do all its textural work, such as scripts and metadata, in Avid's iNEWS newsroom computer system. This in turn drives the Précis system. The tight integration of the systems means that duplicate data entry is eliminated, and journalists can see status of any video clip from within iNEWS.

The move to a file-based workflow was a critical first step for several other projects that the station plans to implement in the future. Précis has made the transition fast, easy and complete.

Craig Porter is director of engineering of broadcast systems at Young Broadcasting.