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CBS Entertainment news migrates to HD production, playout with Grass Valley K2 HD servers

CBS Entertainment has installed a large hybrid linear and nonlinear editing system for special requirements of the entertainment news programs “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider.”

Many broadcasters are facing up to the challenge of fast turnaround shows, using live-to-disk recording — something not possible with videotape. Once on disk, the shows can be edited while capture continues, using methods pioneered in sports and news broadcasting. At CBS, the old SD versions of the show already used server technology (Grass Valley Profile), so much of the workflow was already in place. The upgrade to K2 servers equips the show for HD production.

More than 250 people work on the 30-minute shows to produce multiple versions for syndication. They are produced with the immediacy of a newscast, but with the finessed look of an edited show. To achieve this, CBS uses a mix of nonlinear and linear editing to mix studio segments with post-produced reports.

Ed Casaccia, director of product marketing for servers and digital production for Grass Valley, described how these shows “look like a newscast but with a tremendous amount of production polish, and that extends to anything in the studio production.” To support the near-live workflow, CBS has installed Thomson Grass Valley K2 HD media servers combined with Editware Fastrack hybrid editing systems. “ET” and “The Insider” share a total of 64 Grass Valley K2 HD channels comprised of SAN and stand-alone configurations.

Each show relies on a combination of K2 AppCenter and Editware Fastrack NLE control to support a highly time-sensitive workflow. The studio segments are recorded live-to-disk. “If anything goes wrong on the studio floor, they can edit that out. There is a continuous piece going out the door, and they are editing while it is playing,” Casaccia said. To guarantee workflow productivity, Grass Valley and Editware worked together to adapt the Fastrack hybrid editing system to operate seamlessly with K2 to provide CBS with a powerful edit controller that controls the K2 in both linear and nonlinear modes. The show feeds are played directly from the K2 under the control of the K2 AppCenter application and/or Crispin automation.

One of the many challenges was getting all of the post-produced packages, bumpers and promos from the post-production stage to the “ET” and “The Insider” control rooms. Post production is done with a new all-HD Avid environment with 26 Media Composer Nitris DX and two Symphony Nitris DX systems sharing media via 192TB of Unity ISIS storage, as well as the Avid Interplay nonlinear workflow engine. The post team has developed a streamlined file-handling process that enables the fast and totally automated transfer of HD material from the Avid editing systems to the Grass Valley K2 servers.

With multiple versions of both “ET” and “The Insider” being created daily, the final video packages are often still being edited either on Avid systems or directly on the Grass Valley K2 servers using the Fastrack edit systems as the shows begin airing. This workflow gives both programs tremendous flexibility getting video packages to air.