NAB Show 2008 Preview: SBE Returns With Popular Ennes Workshop

The Ennes Engineering Program, held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas, has been the single largest gathering of broadcast engineers in one room for many years.

In the past, the Society of Broadcast Engineers and the Public Broadcasting System has jointly sponsored the event. Ennes is the not-for-profit Educational Trust under the auspices of the SBE.

The NAB event is held the Saturday before the exhibition floor opens. This year’s “early bird tutorial” begins at 8 a.m. on April 12, 2008. Admission requires a full convention registration, available at a discount to SBE members; or PBS admission.

“File-based workflow” is the topic for the SBE’s Ennes Workshop at NAB. This is the last NAB convention in the analog TV era, and that means virtually everyone is looking at their workflow as the world of multichannel, multimedia and the all-digital facility come into view.

Admittedly, of all the topics presented in the past, this is the most TV-centric. On the other hand, nothing in broadcast workflow is entirely TV or radio-centric. Likewise, the group who puts these programs together is all broadcast engineers, and almost all have worked in both radio and TV, some in even more specialized forms of broadcast. Broadcast engineers need to be proficient in skills and knowledge of workflow basics, IT in general and the issue surrounding station operations, no matter what branch of the industry one is working in at the moment.

The Ennes program actively seeks and invites specific speakers, rather than asking for volunteers. The presenters spend a great deal of time and energy putting together their programs. Because they are all tutorial, all of this work is done with education as its objective. Many of the presenters can be found in the pages of various trade journals, and involved in many advanced broadcast projects.

(click thumbnail)TVTechnology columnists Harlan Neugeboren (L), CEO of The Workflow Technology Group, and John Footen, vice president at National TeleConsultants are among this year’s presenters at the SBE Ennes Workshop.TUTORIAL 101

The day begins with a full hour of the basics at 8 a.m., with the traditional “101” tutorial, presented by Harlan Neugeboren, CEO of The Workflow Technology Group LLC (and frequent TV Technology columnist). Neugeboren consults a large number of clients in creating and fine tuning their operational workflows.

Following at 9 a.m., Jim O’Brian presents “Cross Platform Work Flow” dealing with the practical reality of facilities with Macs and Windows, MXF and QuickTime, and all the other legacy and station specific pieces that make up a real-world facility. O’Brian is the president of Building4Media and among other things designed and built 14-TV networks and assisted in another 125-TV networks in 31 countries.

Al Kovalick, a strategist and Pinnacle fellow who has spoken at Ennes before, returns to present “Video Timing and Synchronization in a Web Services Environment” at 9:55 a.m. Kovalick wrote what most consider the first book on the subject of tapeless workflow.

Next, at 10:35 a.m., Brad Gilmer, the executive director of the Advanced Media Workflow Association, presents “Understanding and Describing File-based Workflow.” Gilmore is also the editor-in-chief of the File Interchange Handbook and authors a monthly trade magazine column.

At 11:20 a.m., Chris Lennon, chairman and founder of SMPTE’s S22-10 group, presents “Broadcast Exchange Format.” Broadcast eXchange Format (BXF) is a part of almost any discussion of workflow.

“Implementing Workflow Changes,” presented by John Luff, follows at 1:30 p.m. Founder of Synergistic Technologies Inc. (now part of AZCAR) Luff’s work has been implementing workflow changes for a number of facilities. Luff will describe a holistic approach for managing the change.

Continuing at 2:15 p.m., John Footen, vice president at National TeleConsultants, presents “Business Process Analysis.”

Next, Mike Wellings, the Engineering director for the ResearchChannel Consortium, leads the presentation “Codec Performance” at 3 p.m. This highly visual presentation will give you an opportunity to see the effects of various codecs and compression on content a very integral part of the file based workflow process.


OmniBus System’s John Wadle will explore the impacts and benefits of deploying a software-based transmission system in conjunction with file based content workflows at 3:45 p.m. with “File-Based Transmission Process.” This presentation follows the acquisition, preparation and storage of content, and the very important execution of secondary events.

The day is finished with Pathfire’s Chief Technical Officer Joe Fabiano with the presentation “Pathfire’s Distribution of Files and the Impact on File Based Workflow.” The last piece of the workflow puzzle is getting the content and metadata distributed to the play-out facilities. Fabiano was a member of Pathfire’s original start up team, and a name associated with content distribution from the very beginning.

Toss in Al Kovalick’s “History of the Second” at lunchtime, and it becomes one very full day of tutorials on all of the key pieces of file-based workflow with many of the most knowledgeable and experienced players in the field. As a broadcast engineer, whatever the specific responsibilities, this workshop is the place for beneficial learning. Past feedback shows previous attendees agree that the NAB Ennes Workshop is well worth the time and effort to attend.