blue Taps Rohde & Schwarz for Studio Production and Storage Tech

Rohde & Schwarz
(Image credit: Rohde & Schwarz)

MUNICH—Rohde & Schwarz has announced that its high-performance intelligent storage network, as well as its media servers for content preparation have been deployed at Swiss broadcaster blue, a popular subscription service offering movie and entertainment content  alongside a popular sport service. 

Key factors in the decision to select R&S VENICE and R&S SpycerNode for the project were reliability, redundancy, small form factor and easy setup, the broadcaster reported. Futureproofing and scalability were also important considerations, allowing blue to migrate from today’s 1080/25i to 50p to 4k and HDR/Ultra HD with outputs already configured for Ultra HD. 

As it started planning to upgrade its ingest and studio platforms, blue recognized that to serve the needs of sports viewers, high availability and redundancy were critical as well as the need to quickly turn around content as it arrived for half-time reviews and other programming. 

Time pressures also required that playlists and clips be ready for immediate playout. 

Finally, since rack space was limited, it was necessary to design the highly redundant and small form factor system in a way that was convenient to use without any any complex set up procedures. 

To meet its current and future needs, blue has installed an extensive storage and preparation network with seven R&S VENICE S8s along with mirrored storage on two R&S SpycerNode 5u84 units. 

Each VENICE device is capable of ingesting, transmitting or transforming eight HD or two Ultra HD signals simultaneously, for a total of 56 concurrent HD streams. This includes the ability to edit in place and playout while ingesting. The new set-up achieves all this in just 34 units of rack space, including IP switches and panels – a far smaller footprint than other systems. 

“blue has invested heavily in sports rights, and we need to be sure our assets are carefully managed, archived and preserved,” said Daniel Meyer, project leader for blue. “Rohde & Schwarz is a long-time trusted company, and the combined VENICE/SpycerNode solution is flexible, secure and cost-effective. The company was also able to guarantee us an SLA for at least seven years, so we know we have an effective platform on which we can build our future growth.” 

The two fully populated SpycerNode devices provide security through redundancy, ensuring there is no single point of failure anywhere in the content management system. R&S provides industry-leading resilience through erasure coding and a declustered array as well as hardware redundancy, the company said. 

Monitoring is by VENICE View, with dynamically assigned sources to ensure operators are always aware of content flows. The integrated tools within VENICE allow operators to create sub-clips, trim material, and transwrap files without generation loss. For situations when craft editing is required, Adobe Premiere can begin editing work as files are being ingested or played out by VENICE, thus enabling faster production workflows by allowing work to begin the moment file ingest begins. 

“We are proud that blue has recognized the determination in our design of VENICE and SpycerNode to provide non-stop, highly resilient, mission-critical storage,” said Jörg Fries, vice president broadcast, amplifier and media solutions at Rohde & Schwarz. “This is just the sort of application we envisaged for the technology, providing seamless operational efficiency today with the possibility of scaling in the future, not just in the number of channels, editors and processes supported, but in allowing a move to higher resolutions as the blue audience demands it.”

The system was implemented by Jordi AG, Rohde & Schwarz’s systems integration partner in Switzerland. Together, the two companies designed, installed, tested and commissioned the system in the first months of 2021, while maintaining social distancing and other protective practices for all staff involved.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.