News Production & Post

Dolphin makes a splash in Premier League

5 April 2011

The first units of Pebble Beach Systems’ Dolphin, a new software-based, integrated channel device, are helping provide 24-hour coverage of UK Premier Football League for Premier League Productions (PLP), writes Adrian Pennington.

IMG Worldwide, which owns and operates PLP, installed two Dolphin servers under Neptune automation control for the launch of the service last August at the start of the 2010-11 Premiership season.

Each Dolphin has two HD outputs and one HD input, and both are connected to shared network attached storage with 5.4TB of capacity. Dolphin can operate as an SD/HD video server, master control switcher, character generator and channel branding system and supports an extensive range of compression and file formats.

To avoid potential bottlenecks, IMG required the Dolphin systems to be capable of playing out in DNxHD @ 120Mbps, allowing its Avid-based production workflow to publish content directly to the playout servers without having to transcode the content.

Dolphin runs on standard IT hardware to deliver automated, frame-accurate, multi-channel ingest and playout. A 12-channel system including decoders, storage, graphics database and control can be accommodated in 7RU of rack space, with power consumption of less than 5kW.

PLP was appointed by the Premier League to handle production and distribution for all of its international programming, which includes the customisation of all 380 matches as well as the production of weekly magazine shows from IMG’s base in Chiswick, west London.

The service is run by some Premier League licensees as a full channel, and offers key international broadcasters a mix of studio-based output, regular news shows, international phone-ins, and re-runs of archived matches. PLP offers the feed to 15 territories including Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Greece. IMG built a new automated studio and employed over 70 staff to manage and run the service.

"This contract required a three-month turnaround from our initial contact with potential suppliers to going on air, so the pressure was really on to produce a working solution which could accommodate the DNxHD @ 120 Mbps file format which we specified," explained PLP’s Chief Engineer, Richard Allingham. "The capability of [Pebble Beach Systems’] new Dolphin device to accommodate our requirements made the channel launch very straightforward.”

The installation also features a Harris Platinum router, EVS servers, and graphics from Vizrt.

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