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The European Parliament

The European Parliament

The European Parliament (EP), a directly elected institution of the European Union since 1979, is one of the world’s most powerful legislatures. The EP audiovisual unit provides broadcasting on an internal cable TV network and transmission to Europe by Satellite (EBS), the news exchange networks and to selected TV channels. It also provides video streaming on the Web and publication on FTP servers. In addition, the audiovisual unit oversees a media archive kept for the legal and historical record and for the use of members of the EP, journalists and scholars.

In 2008, directors of the EP audiovisual unit recognized that the addition of a new building, D5, to its operation created the opportunity to implement a centralized digital archive storage system. While the EP assumed its present form in 1979, its roots stretch back to 1952. The archive it has amassed chronicles a significant part of European and world history. At the time the D5 project was initiated, some of the archive was stored in digital format on a Sony data tape system. Most of the content, however, is still stored on Digital Betacam videotapes and some on Betacam SP videotape. This lack of consistency created difficulties with access and retrieval. Likewise, because videotape has a limited shelf life, preservation of some content was in jeopardy.

Implemented by the EP audiovisual unit and the professional team from Luxembourg-based Broadcasting Centre Europe (BCE), the D5 project rectifies those issues by integrating all content into a coherent, unified system based on a Sun StorageTek data tape library complemented by nearline storage from Isilon connecting to Grass Valley K2 video servers and knit together by an expanded and upgraded Front Porch Digital DIVArchive content storage management system. The archive also incorporates Front Porch Digital DIVAdirector media asset management, which enables tracking and retrieval of assets from desktop workstations. Using it, archivists index content according to flexible and programmable fields, create browse copies for archived content and restore broadcast-quality clips from tape library to video servers. The storage system has also been integrated with EP’s existing Harris Invenio digital asset management system.

Key to the project has been migration of some 13,000 hours of media content from storage on videotape into the managed digital environment — an ongoing process since the autumn of 2009. To accomplish this, the audiovisual unit and BCE have deployed six Front Porch Digital SAMMA Solo systems arrayed in a cost-effective setup with legacy VTRs and interfaced to the existing Sony FlexiCart systems. SAMMA Solo is a semiautomated system that performs real-time, simultaneous encoding of content from videotape into multiple digital files, and then manages their ingest into the digital workflow.

With the migration component, EP’s centralized archive becomes a first for Europe — an integrated end-to-end system that moves legacy analog video content into the digital realm. The SAMMA Solo systems are currently ahead of schedule in meeting the goal of completing migration of the 13,000-hour videotape archive to digital formats by the end of the calendar year.

  • Newsroom technology
    Submitted by Front Porch DigitalDesign teamBCE: Gusty Feinen, mgr. special projects
    European Parliament: Stephan Rigaud, audiovisual unit, engineering departmentTechnology at workFront Porch Digital: DIVArchive content storage management, DIVAdirector media asset management, SAMMA Solo file migration system
    Grass Valley: K2 video servers
    Isilon: Disk storage
    Sun StorageTek: LTO4 tape library

© 2009 Penton Media, Inc.