Grass Valley deploys facilitywide playout SAN at SBS

The SBS/ProSiebenSat.1 Group’s Netherlands division is upgrading its content playout platform to handle and distribute HD content with a new investment in a Grass Valley K2 Summit SAN. The system includes five Grass Valley K2 Summit HD production clients for ingest and playout connected to the new online SAN. The development is part of a move away from the hybrid tape/file operation used with SD to a completely tapeless operation for HD.

SBS Netherlands operates three main TV channels in the country: SBS 6, Net 5, and Veronica. The station are rolling out HD transmissions from November 2009 through to April 2010, using the AVC format at 14 – 16Mb/s. The Netherlands has a choice of carriers including digital cable, FTTH and satellite to deliver the transmissions.

The K2 equipment, now delivered, will be integrated into the Amsterdam facility in the next two months, following the completion of a major renovation of the facility’s multichannel playout area. As part of the migration to HD, the broadcaster is moving away from videotape for the receipt of programs. Existing SD programs are delivered as a mix of files and tape; the U.S. studios deliver programming via SmartJog, and for local productions they still use tape. Josbert van Rooijen, manager of broadcast and IT at SBS Netherlands, has said that they won’t use tapes for HD.

SBS has good fiber connections to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, plus it has its own fiber to the Media Gateway Hilversum, another Dutch production center. Rooijen said that national file delivery is mainly via FTP, including all commercial delivery, but the network sometimes uses other systems for international delivery when FTP can have limitations.

The broadcaster uses the XDCAM HD format for ENG acquisition and XDCAM HD422 50 for long form. “In the future, we would like to use AVC Intra 100,” Rooijen said, especially for the long-term archive. “The 10-bit [coding] is useful if you want to do color correction later.”

The broadcaster also uses MXF wrappers, OP1A for receipt of files, the K2 SAN and the archive, with OP Atom used internally for its Avid production system.


All material is ingested to the Avid ISIS server system, which serves 50 clients. Coupled with Interplay, this is used for QC of all incoming material as well as post production for promos. Once material has been cleared, it is transferred from ISIS to the K2 SAN for playout. SBS uses MediaGenix WHATS’On for content management, which is interfaced to the Interplay for metadata exchange.

The station uses SGT automation control playout linked to the WHATS’On and Interplay systems. The SGT handles file management with MediaGenix handling metadata, while Interplay is used to manage content while in production. A long-term archive for the K2 SAN and ISIS is provided by a Spectra Logic tape robot with SGL Flashnet archive management.

In master control, SBS uses Snell TX 520 master control switchers with all live graphics created in the Ross XPression graphics platform. XPression creates all the bugs, logos and animations driven by dynamic data from the MediaGenix system.

In 2008, SBS converted its studio to HD operation with the addition of a Grass Valley Ignite HD integrated production system. SBS is now replacing several existing Grass Valley Profile XP media platform servers with the new K2 servers; the ongoing migration project will debut on-air in Q4 2009.

The choice of the Grass Valley K2 Summit offers SBS Netherlands the flexibility to work with various SD and HD formats in the same server, ensuring a fast and smooth transition to HD and the ability to seamlessly work with different codecs.