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MLB Network to launch with Thomson HD technology

When Major League Baseball’s MLB Network goes live on Jan. 1, 2009, it will do so with an all-HD playout system based on Thomson Grass Valley technology. This includes multiple K2 HD media servers, Aurora Edit HD systems and an Aurora software suite of applications, which will be used to handle the entire HD post-production process.

This comprehensive shared storage network will allow the MLB Network staff to quickly create and distribute HD content to a variety of platforms that include traditional television, the Internet and mobile devices.

The entire system will initially be housed in the former home of MSNBC, in Secaucus, NJ. The facility includes an existing Thomson Grass Valley Trinix HD router with Encore control software, which the MLB Network plans to use.

As part of a highly collaborative workflow, every night during the 2009 baseball season, the renovated MLB Network facility will receive raw feeds of every game. Dozens of production personnel will then use the Thomson Grass Valley equipment and networked systems to quickly edit and play to air highlight packages and short clips for a variety of shows on the network.

A total of 36 Thomson Grass Valley K2 media servers will be employed in a RAID-protected storage area network (SAN) for editing and accessing/sharing thousands of audio and video clips daily. The servers will be configured in two redundant paths — 18 servers for “X” SAN and 18 for “Y” SAN — with each SAN providing 1000 hours of HD storage at the highest quality (100Mb/s).

A nearline SAN also will be installed, including 10,000 hours of storage. More than 25 Thomson Grass Valley Aurora Edit HD workstations will work off this network, allowing editors to collaborate on projects from a single desktop.

The massive post-production environment also includes Thomson Grass Valley Aurora Ingest software to capture incoming satellite feeds and content from VTRs as well as to ingest footage from solid-state media. The Thomson Grass Valley Aurora Browse software will be employed for managing assets and handling file transfers to and from a Sun Microsystems SL8500 archive system. This archive features storage capacity for more than 30,000 hours of HD content at 100Mb/s. The Thomson Grass Valley Aurora Playout software will also be used for playout of finished packages to the production studios.

CBT Systems, based in San Diego, designed the file-based workflows in collaboration with the MLB Network team. The equipment and systems will be installed by The Systems Group, located in Hoboken NJ, which selected Thomson Grass Valley technology and will integrate it into a number of IT-centric processes.

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