Ingex, the BBC's digital production software, has moved into a trial phase with a view to informing future digital techniques, writes Adrian Pennington.
"It allows you to run a tapeless production on commodity hardware with tangible benefits in Capex as well as the creative benefits of working with files," explained Matthew Postgate, BBC Controller for Research & Development.
Ingex is a suite of software applications designed to enable low-cost flexible tapeless television production. The functionality of the software includes SDI video and audio capture, realtime transcoding and wrapping in MXF, archiving to LTO-3 data tape and network file serving of media files.
The software was originally developed in 2005 for series three of the 'BAMZOOKi' BBC children's programme and has since been used on 'EastEnders' and 'Dragons' Den', a music video production for Radio One and most recently on Radio 4 business programme 'The Bottom Line'.
An Ingex recorder is also based on commodity IT hardware and can be equipped with up to four SDI capture cards in one PC case. It uses two processors, each with dual cores, which provide sufficient processing power to record and encode four SD or two HD inputs in realtime. The local disc storage for recordings has a capacity of 2TB, configured as a RAID array. During realtime encoding, the files are wrapped as MXF for server storage. A lower-quality version of each file is also created for browsing.
It may form part of the BBC's ongoing and Corporation-wide transfer to tapeless production, the Digital Media Initiative (DMI).
"Where we've seen Ingex being used it helps make production teams more flexible and delivers tangible business benefits," said Postgate. "It is relevant to the DMI. The hard part, as with all our projects when they reach a certain point of maturity, is transferring them out of R&D and into the BBC or commercial market and that's what we're working on now."