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Sports Editing on the Fly

CAMDENTON, MO.—Editing for sports programming used to be all about providing highlights after the game. Not anymore. Another kind of sports editing is catching fire.

It began at the largest national championship sporting events and is trickling down to a broader market as demand increases and technology develops. It is about editing sports action and clips for replay within the event itself. Many edited clips show viewers what they just saw, not necessarily from different angles and speeds, but from different perspectives. Sports editing enhances live sports production and can happen inside a sports truck, or from virtually anywhere with a fast internet connection.

“Sports trucks provide real-time feeds of live and instant replay action frequently covered by graphics,” said John Salzwedel, president of Wisconsin-based Token Creek Productions. “Several leagues request trucks covering both teams provide parallel clean feeds for off-site uses.” Some of that off-site work generates edited files that are sent back to the truck via FTP or posted.

Before an event, most teams or competitors will anticipate the need for older archived material such as early video of a batter about to break a record. “Often,” Salzwedel said, “old local content like that resides on 3/4-inch or 1-inch tape in a TV station archival library.” Teams generally provide sports trucks digitized clips to load on its servers that might prove particularly useful during certain predictable events.

With friendly files loaded in an editor, the actual speed of editing varies from editor to editor, human and machine. Everyone has a favorite and the big names such as Adobe, Apple, Avid, Imagine’s Velocity and others are all fast. The challenge in sports editing is not just creating a timeline, but how long it takes to pull file data from a sports truck and push edited content back to the truck’s servers and the Internet.

During many sporting events, action can be happening on any camera at any time. “Sports editing workflows can require operators to decide what sources to push to an edit station,” said David Pinkel, sales manager of EVS the Americas. The number of unique sources that may be available depends on truck infrastructure such as encoders and available outputs. More access to more channels of live or near-live content gives producers more tools to colorfully illustrate recent near-live stories.

Recently, Adobe developed an editor that can use shared storage managed by an EVS device. This integration with between EVS and Adobe creates a fast, intuitive and productive edit platform for near-live sports post work. The technical collaboration between the two companies extends to remote production and editing workflows.

NewTek recently added a number of new integrated production capabilities for creating dynamic sports programs to their 3Play replay systems, bringing the products into the sports editing realm. Simon Williams, director of strategic relations at Adobe, sees the collaboration with EVS as a real advance in what editors can do under pressure, whether on site or remotely. “Our goal is to enable editors to work as efficiently as possible while creating brilliant results,” Williams said. EVS’s IP Link for Adobe, a plug-in panel extension for Adobe Premiere Pro CC can access clip elements made available for editing by EVS IPDirector while the live event is taking place. Access to the underlying media files is made using shared storage managed by IPDirector.

The IP Link for Adobe plugin panel allows the user to search for clip elements based on metadata in the IPDirector and preview and use the associated files stored on the shared storage. This allows direct access to the files from Premiere Pro CC without having to move or copy files to the local workstation storage.

According to Williams, a typical sports truck might have four servers with ISOs, dirty program and clean program outputs. EVS MultiReview lets directors and replay operators browse camera angles simultaneously, keep a record of selections and make instant replay and editing decisions across a local network. It uses a high-resolution codec with a low-res proxy available on a single interface in real time. A producer can see all the action at once and automatically make a play list.

Multiple channels may be subdesignated as one master channel. When one clip is marked, other designated channels receive a similar mark, providing different camera angles in a single playlist. For remote facilities, “It’s like going shopping to extract content,” Williams said. Efficiently pushing edited content back is equally critical and depends on what other work must be done to conform the file to the servers it is being pushed to.

Imagine Communications Product Manager Darby Marriott sees parallels with live sports editing and traditional editing. “They both require fast ingest, editing and airing,” Marriott said. Server flexibility is crucial. Flexibility in sports editing is the ability to ingest and stream multiple files in multiple formats, and it extends to editing software and systems. The faster the systems operate and the more conforming work they can do in the background, the better. Servers such as Imagine’s Nexio AMP have agile integrated software codecs, which support most formats including DV, MPEG-2, IMX, Avid DNxHD, Sony XDCAM HD, H.264, DVCPRO HD, and Panasonic AVC-Intra.

Imagine Communications partnered with Dixon Sports Computing to use its sports logging app, Dixon HiliteSystem, to allow loggers to mark edit points that creates subclips in an Imagine Nexio editing system automatically. A drag-and-drop interface between the Dixon app and Nexio make the system intuitive and easy to use.

Marriott sees 4K and beyond in the future of sports editing as that market develops. When sports truck backbones move to higher resolutions, sports editing improvements will follow. Technology is already headed in that direction.

Some sports editing functions are being built into sports production gear. NewTek recently added a number of new integrated production capabilities for creating dynamic sports programs to their 3Play replay systems, bringing the products into the sports editing realm. According to Don Ballance, NewTek vice president of worldwide training, new capabilities include “the ability to instantly and simultaneously publish content to multiple Internet destinations, including Facebook and Twitter.” 3Play can build real-time overlays to create visuals, clips, animations, replays, and live action. Built-in animation buffers and stinger transitions replace the need for additional video servers and graphics stores.

Editshare is active in sports editing primarily through partnerships. Jeff Barnes, director of workflow design for broadcast and studio at the Boston-based company said, “The trend is toward intercompany partnerships instead of end-to-end solutions.” Companies are working together to make files compatible. Editshare recently announced compatibility partnerships with NewTek’s Tricaster production switchers and 3Play replay systems and with Broadcast Pix among others.

Regarding metadata, there are many ways to log and tag on-the-fly. Many tools, apps and programs are available for metadata tagging, and an interesting new tagging product recently shown at the NAB Show was Primestream’s Fork Logger 1.0, a metadata-tagging tool designed for logging live or prerecorded video. Its tightly integrated and configurable user interface can make the screen appear as simple as a fast food restaurant cash register. Custom buttons are labeled for every possible action that might occur during a particular sport or team. It also allows multiple users to log the same clip simultaneously. Clearly, the new near- and post-live power resides in the metadata and the easier it is to log and tag it, the better.