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Best Flow in Bulgaria

Launched in March, News7 is the first 24/7 news channel to broadcast in Bulgaria. Operating from a studio base in the capital, Sofia, the transmissions are carried throughout the country via terrestrial, satellite and cable. Established as an affiliate of CNN, the News7 team was trained at the cable network’s operational centre in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The television market in Bulgaria has changed in recent years, with viewers’ interests shifting to the thematic channels,” says Dobromir Anguelov, technical adviser, TV7/News7 and the News7 technical project manager. “Until this year, viewers lacked a strong news channel to keep them informed about any hot local and international news. To meet that need, Balkan Bulgarian Channel (BBT) created News7.”

Established as an affiliate of CNN, the News7 team was trained at the cable network’s operational centre in Atlanta, Georgia. The association means that News7 supplies CNN with Bulgarian news, while CNN provides the Sofia studios with a regular feed of international happenings. Overseeing the set up of the new facility was Copenhagen-based systems integrator Best Flow Factory (BFF).

The facility accommodates two studios, one with an area of 150sqm, the other measuring 50sqm. Both are linked to the central newsroom. The main studio uses a combination of Sony HDC-P1 and HDC-1700 cameras. While the latter models are operated manually, the HDC-P1s are controlled robotically using a Telemetrics TeleGlide Track system and the Televator Elevating Pedestal.

This arrangement consists of two track systems, one of which is curved with three trolleys on one track. To stop accidental mishaps, the set up includes a collision avoidance system. The elevators were custom designed to accommodate the studio’s very small overall height.

“The main channel in the BBT group –TV7 – has used Sony cameras for many years and camera operators feel comfortable with them. So that was our choice, too,” states Anguelov. “When it came to vision mixing, we chose the Snell Kahuna 2 ME switcher.”

He adds that when it came to selecting a newsroom system, News7 again looked to equipment in place in other parts of the group’s operations. “Octopus6 was already in use at TV7, so opting for a second system for the news operation made sense.” This system employs MOS integration to permit all elements of a news bulletin to be created within one window.

“We use Quantel sQ News for editing with graphics being added through a combination of Viz Trio, Viz Pilot, Viz Weather and Viz World. News7 shares the same journalists with TV7, and since they also use Quantel it was the right choice. Quantel sQ is a very reliable system with very good after sales support.”

For transmission, the rundown scripts are sent from Octopus to MOS compliant Autocue prompters. At the same time, embedded clips, graphics and automation commands are sent to the Mosart Newsroom Computer System (NRCS) automation system for playout.

Newsroom automation
“Mosart was created by TV producers and directors especially for news operation,” maintains Anguelov. “As a result, it interacts very well with all kinds of systems and devices. This gives freedom to engineers to build their system to fit an exact need. We found that Mosart has a very intuitive user interface for operation and only a few days of training were sufficient before we went on air.”

In fact, short time scales were a feature of the Mosart involvement in the News7 project. According to John Kjellevold (pictured), managing director of Mosart, the whole operation took just three months from design to installation. “This has been a rapid deployment project. The setup of the Mosart server was done in BFF’s headquarters in Copenhagen. The final installation was done in Sofia. This kind of pre-installation made it possible to build the system as the craftsmen and electricians were still working with the gallery.”

He continues, “News7 is using Octopus for NRCS, and all Mosart templates are written into Octopus. Mosart thereafter takes the information from Octopus and executes the templates.”

He says that the real benefit for the user comes from being able to process complicated sequences with minimal operations. “Of course, a sequence of stories in a rundown can easily be moved up and down. This allows for last-second changes, with the advantage of executing complex newscasts.”

Kjellevold explains that although the Mosart system contains both camera directions and transitions, it is easy for a director to override those decisions, where necessary. “Through the Mosart graphical user interface (GUI), a user can override the information given in the NRCS by simply disabling the device from the automation programme. Manual control is then available to the director. This is a standard feature in Mosart. The same feature can also be used in live productions of, for example, talk shows. In fact, all kinds of equipment are connected to the Mosart server through TCP/IP, serial ports and midi.”

How it works
He goes on to explain the typical operation for a news broadcast. “A rundown is prepared in Octopus, filled out with commands and information with ActiveX from both Mosart and Vizrt, overviewed and tested within Mosart GUI. Then the Mosart operator – formerly the vision mixer working with the director – runs Mosart and the programme goes to air. It really is that simple.”

From the outset, News7 has been a tapeless operation, with Playbox Technology servers being used for playout.
With the successful installation and operation of Mosart automation, News7 is already considering additional ways in which to use the system. For instance, support for web repurposing and publishing systems already enables delivery of News7 content to users on mobile devices.

“The Mosart approach to newsroom operation and news output also simplifies the subsequent launch and production of subsidiary channels across the broadcast studios,” maintains Kjellevold. “If News7 moves forward with plans for a sports channel supported by Mosart automation, the experience of existing control room operators will ensure that another rapid and cost-effective channel launch can be readily achieved.”

He adds, “This technology eliminates the repetitive technical tasks required in production, freeing up human resources to refine the creative aspects of programming for broadcast or mobile delivery. As a result, companies such as News7 can institute streamlined live news production models and realise a high return on their media investment.”

Anguelov admits that some of his colleagues were uncertain about newscast automation technology, but have changed their opinions having seen the systems at work. “The day after we launched News7 on Mosart, they began to understand our decision. With this high level of automation within our control room, we can run an attractive, error-free newscast with just two operators and, in turn, dedicate more of our resources to content creation rather than operations costs.”

By Philip Stevens