Leveraging Post For ENG

Keep It Simple, Stupid: The four words that comprise the famous "KISS Principle." When it comes to shooting and editing news video, few stations have applied the KISS Principle better than KNXV-TV/Channel 15 in Phoenix.
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Keep It Simple, Stupid: The four words that comprise the famous "KISS Principle." When it comes to shooting and editing news video, few stations have applied the KISS Principle better than KNXV-TV/Channel 15 in Phoenix.

The reason? After converting to Avid nonlinear editing systems, KNXV subsequently equipped its news crews with Ikegami EditCam3 camcorders. Since the EditCam's FieldPak2 video recording cartridges are actually ruggedized hard disk drives (HDDs), transferring ENG video into KNXV's Avid editors is as easy as pulling files across a network.

How KNXV Got KISSed

KNXV is actually an Avid veteran, relatively speaking. "We've had Avid nonlinear editing systems in the building for about five years now," says KNXV engineer James Bradley. "However, we didn't migrate our news department from tape-based editing to Avid NewsCutter until about 24 months ago."

Once KNXV's news team had switched to nonlinear editing, videotape's days were numbered at "Your Valley News Leader." However, moving from analog tape to digital video wasn't a slam-dunk decision: There were a lot of options to be considered.

"We took demos from pretty much everyone making digital camcorders," Bradley says. "After reviewing what we'd seen, we decided that the Ikegami EditCam3 made the most sense for us. Being HDD-based, we felt that EditCam3 had the easiest acquisition and most direct ingest process for working with Avid nonlinear editors."

Specifically, KNXV purchased 19 Ikegami Editcam3 DNS-33W camcorders. Built around a 520,000-pixel AIT (Advanced Interline Transfer) CCD, the DNS-33W records to removable 40GB FieldPak2 HDDs. At DV50/50 Mbps, a single 40GB FieldPak2 can hold 1.5 hours of video: At DV25/25 Mbps, record time is increased to three hours. "We are only shooting in DV25 mode," says Bradley.

Editcam3 on the News Beat

It was the FieldPak2 that sold KNXV on the Editcam3. However, it was the entire FieldPak2 video handling process that closed the sale; not just the convenience of pulling files directly from the FieldPak2 HDD into an Avid workstation.

"Actually, the DNS-33W handles just like any conventional tape-based camcorder," says Bradley. "The difference is that every time the news photographer hits the Record button, the FieldPak2 creates a distinct clip." Whether reviewing the video on the Editcam3 or on the Avid, each clip comes with its own 'frame view' thumbnail image attached, he adds. "This is a freeze of the opening frame, so that you can figure out which clip is which. The camera will also play clips and allows for 'cuts only' editing directly in the camera."

Once the footage is shot, the KNXV reporter has the option of bringing the FieldPak2 into the station for editing, or producing the report in the field using an Avid-equipped laptop editor. In either case, the reporter will record his voice-over narrative directly to the FieldPak2, using whatever microphone is on-hand. The voiceover location is usually noted on the tape using color bars, so that it can be found through the Frame View menu.

If the reporter opts to edit their story back at KNXV, the FieldPak2 HDD is docked into an SAT-110 adapter, which is connected directly to the Avid workstation. Once the FieldPak2 is docked, the editor just hits the 'Import Command' and a database menu--including the Frame Views--shows up on the Avid screen. This gives the editor direct access to everything on the FieldPak2, just as if it were another local drive on their workstation. In contrast, feeding reports from the field takes time, because the report has to be played in real-time for microwave transmission and recording back at the station.

Either way, completed KNXV news reports are subsequently stored on an Avid AirSPACE video server, for direct playout to air.

Results

Before KNXV purchased its Editcam3s, news footage had to be transferred into their Avid editors in real-time. Now, news footage can be accessed directly from the FieldPak2s as easily as any data file, no matter when the footage was shot during the newsgathering day.

In the field, Editcam's ability to speed up news editing depends on the photographer's familiarity with the Avid system, Bradley notes. "We have several photographers who are very fast in Avid," he explains. "I know of one who edited a news report in the time it took the reporter to call the station to arrange for the microwave feed. However, others are still learning to work with nonlinear editing."

Ironically, the only real slowdown that occurs in KNXV's video production workflow is not due to problems between the Editcams3s and Avid, but rather the station's editing laptops and workstations. "The Avid laptops are DNA-based (Digital Nonlinear Accelerator) systems, while the NewsCutter workstations are Meridian-based," says Bradley. "They don't like to talk to each other in certain situations."

Despite occasional conflicts between the two Avid editing systems, KNXV is very happy with its current video production system. "It was a very easy, straightforward transition from Beta SP to Editcam3," James Bradley says. "Moving our ENG operations to an end-to-end hard drive solution has proved to be a real time-saver!"