BBC Sport unlocks HD and multimedia

BBC Sport's new Production System at MediaCityUK is a fully integrated and centralised broadcast production infrastructure, writes Adrian Pennington. Sports news teams work alongside text teams while radio production and senior editorial sit adjacent to ingest areas and galleries.
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BBC Sport's new Production System at MediaCityUK is a fully integrated and centralised broadcast production infrastructure ready for a summer of sport, writes Adrian Pennington. “We’ve unlocked all the potential of HD output, which could never have happened in London,” said BBC Sport’s Technical Executive, Charlie Cope who gave TVBEurope a tour of the facility. “Everything is designed to be reconfigured according to use and demand. We can move playout into different areas, or different floors, or reset desks for graphics.” Sports news teams work alongside text teams while radio production and senior editorial sit adjacent to ingest areas and galleries. “In the past teams worked in siloed areas that prevented us from doing multimedia operations,” he explained. “This is all about trying to break that down. Technically I would say we are nearly there, although you are always looking ahead. The real challenge is getting the processes right and bringing people on board with the new workflows.” For example, more coherent communication from planning to content delivery means more efficient use of resources such as sending one commentator to a venue to cover events for TV and radio where appropriate, or giving every member of the sports production team the contact details and features planning schedule of smaller teams at events overseas. The ability to self-operate browse and retrieval, video clipping and planning packages is a key. In theory it is a completely file-based facility, but inevitably not all of production will be tapeless. Aside from using freelance cameraman and footage from other broadcasters, BBC Sport currently archives 170,000 tapes in London, 12,000 of which have been digitised with another 8,000 to follow. “We identified primary content which is now available [on nearline storage] for browse on desktops,” said Cope. “It doesn’t make financial sense to digitise it all and since the peak use of archive is up to two years after the event, in time the demand for tape will lessen.” The entire project had to be finalised in nine months to allow BBC Sport production to go on air from December 2011. In this time, production and operational staff were trained to use SPS, which combines EVS’ production management systems with Harmonic nearline storage and Final Cut Pro editing. IPDirector provides a single interface for media management in all ingest and playout servers as well as nearline storage. Football Focus and Match of the Day went on-air from Salford last year. BBC Sports News went live in March and next up are the UEFA European football championships in June, for which MediaCity will provide the main studio presentation. The multimedia galleries in the sports operation can handle 18 streams and up to ten red button outputs simultaneously and will find optimal use during the Olympics where it will manage and feed 24 live HD streams to online platforms and cable and satellite providers. www.evs.tvwww.harmonicinc.com

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