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Crawford Communications consolidates with ENCOMPASS

Crawford Communications
consolidates with

To keep up with a growing demand for its network origination services, Crawford Satellite Services, of Crawford Communications in Atlanta, undertook a significant expansion of its tape storage and network playout capabilities. The expansion included greater automation and integration of its broadcast equipment and media management systems.

Dubbed “ENCOMPASS” (ENCOde, Manage and Protect your Assets), the project consolidated many separate control rooms and workflows into a single operation, while also assembling the company’s media assets within redundant data tape archives. The enhancement of Crawford’s technical operations area under ENCOMPASS has unified the ingest, storage and network playout workflows; increased storage for clients’ assets; and simplified tracking of those assets with an online media asset management system. OmniBus Systems’ Colossus multichannel automation system serves as the basis for consolidation of the company’s network origination operations, enabling the company to leverage its existing equipment in a more streamlined workflow characterized by improved resource sharing, substantial cost savings and better overall broadcast services.

Colossus controls SGI, Pinnacle and Omneon video servers and a Masstech storage management system, interfacing with five different traffic systems for flexible playout of 37 redundant channels. OmniBus device drivers control traditional equipment while bridging the gap between video, audio, Internet and data-streaming applications. For the company’s media archive, Spectra Logic provided the data storage robot, a Spectra T950 with Python architecture, that incorporates four Sony SAIT data tape drives. The team selected each piece of equipment for its ability to operate in accordance with traditional IT data practices rather than traditional broadcast practices. Vendors involved in ENCOMPASS worked together to help build a highly interactive system, providing some custom “glue” that links off-the-shelf equipment together for seamless integration in a smooth workflow.

Among the advances afforded by the ENCOMPASS project is the ingest of asset masters into the facility’s storage system at the appropriate resolution. Redundant copies are made automatically in the Spectra Logic data tape robot, eliminating the many thousands of hours of tape duplication previously required. Generation loss, due to tape duplication, also has been eliminated. A new proxy generation system allows each client to view its entire media library online via the Internet.

Shelved tapes are tracked with a Network Library System (NLS) database, which has been integrated with the Masstech asset management system to simplify operations and reduce the possibility of playout error.

The scalability of this integrated automation, storage and playout system provides a quick and affordable means by which Crawford can multiply its channel output. Completed this past May, the new tapeless workflow achieved through ENCOMPASS enables a faster time-to-air, permitting the company to deliver a higher-quality product to its clients.

Design Team
Jim Schuster, sr. vp, satellite op.
Michael Connell, dir., advanced technology (ENCOMPASS)
Don Rodd, CE, satellite op.
Bill Elsholz, lead broadcast eng., satellite
Jay Pound, database admin.
Carol Burton, network op. traffic mgr.

Equipment List
OmniBus Systems Colossus multichannel automation
SGI: Video servers, Near-line storage network CXFS shared file system
Pinnacle video servers
Omneon video servers
Spectra Logic T950 archive
SonySAIT archive
Masstech storage management Vote Now!