Česká Televise has taken delivery of three more Merging Technologies Pyramix digital audio workstations, taking the total number of Merging DAWs at the station to 16.
The sales are part of a large-scale modernisation plan at Česká Televise which will see the broadcaster move from tape-based, discrete-workstation operations (mainly on ageing Fairlight MFX DAWs) to a completely server-based video and audio production and transmission workflow.
Merging products have played a significant role in these upgrades. There are now 25 Vcube video playback systems in use across Česká Televise’s network, some of which have already been in use for three years, and the number of Pyramix systems has been growing since the first one was installed in 2008.
“With their optimised AAF support and MXF integration, Pyramix and Vcube have proved to be the best choice we could possibly make,” commented Jiří Černý, technical head of sound at Česká Televise. “The seamless integration of the two platforms has allowed us to keep our studios running at the pace we’ve become accustomed to, and the Merging team have been fantastic at helping us during this transitional period. They quickly understood our specific technical requirements and suggestions, and have been a phone call away when we needed support.”
Czech TV currently broadcasts in PAL format to its terrestrial viewers, but offers a 1080 high definition service to its satellite customers. While in this transitional phase, its film crews shoot in high definition on XDCAM format, which is then down-converted for terrestrial broadcast; the original HD masters are used for the HD satellite service. What’s more, although the station has a large exchange server, there are various separate media servers for the Vcubes, Pyramixes and other production workstations, as well as a separate Omneon broadcast playout system.
As Jiří Černý explained, in the longer term the plan is to further streamline and integrate these systems: “Our goal is to develop a completely tapeless environment for our entire internal audio and video production in the coming years, but for now, we lay back picture and sound to tape: either XDCAM, Digital Betacam or HDCAM depending on the quality of the production source. Eventually, our audio recording and sound-stage environments, our video-editing suites and, in the future, our archiving system will be integrated with our broadcast server. Pyramix and Vcube are a central part of this on-going evolution, helping our sound department to bridge the current gaps in this workflow.”
According to Černý, Pyramix’s ADR feature has significantly improved on the former ADR workflows at the station, with almost no staff re-training required, and the Merging DAW’s ability to record, edit, and lay back Dolby E-encoded audio has also been particularly useful, as multichannel surround audio mixes are created for the HD satellite broadcasts and are Dolby E-encoded for transmission. Two of the Pyramix systems at Česká Televise have also been installed in one of the station’s OB vans for use as primary and secondary recorders at live events.
“My professional philosophy is that you must use the right tool for the right job, and that’s what we have achieved with Merging,” concluded Jiří Černý. “They’ve given us tools that we can use efficiently in our sound studios while maintaining the highest degree of compatibility with all of our other various audio and video editing tools and file exchange formats. They’ve put us right where we need to be daily: on time.”