France Télévisions gears up for audio post EVOlution - TVBEurope

France Télévisions gears up for audio post EVOlution

In a landmark deal set to further raise the Australian audio/visual solutions developer’s Western European profile, Fairlight is to provide its EVO post production system for installation in 25 regional studios operated by FTV. The move forms part of the French public national TV broadcaster’s migration towards a tapeless workflow.
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In a landmark deal set to further raise the Australian audio/visual solutions developer’s Western European profile, Fairlight is to provide its EVO post production system for installation in 25 regional studios operated by FTV. The move forms part of the French public national TV broadcaster’s migration towards a tapeless workflow.

FTV set the ball rolling on 10 August 2012 with an official European tender inviting companies to confirm their interest and document their capability to supply a far-reaching upgrade initiative at regional studios throughout France. The tender called for a new mixing, control surface and workflow integration solution able to handle the production and distribution of regional news and various other programming.

Denis Derigent (pictured), managing director of Saint Ouen-based AV distributor and systems integrator Broadcast Architect, recalls that he heard about the tender “only a few days before the invitation to submit was due to close”. As a long-time partner of Fairlight, Broadcast Architect had previously installed Fairlight systems at multiple FTV facilities, including Amiens, Orleans and Strasbourg. Confident that a Fairlight-based workflow could again provide the answer to an FTV dilemma, he set to work on a tender application, drawing on the input of Fairlight’s CEO Jean-Claude Kathriner and CTO Tino Fibaek as and when required.

In fact, Derigent actually considered two possible solutions: one based around the new audio post console, Quantum, which debuted at AES last autumn; the other around the rather more long-established EVO production system for video, film and music applications.

Sensing that EVO was best placed to suit FTV’s workflow requirements, Derigent and his team undertook a successful POC session that might just have sealed the deal. “They were immediately impressed – I could see the look on their faces,” he says. “We set up the system and had it fully operable in just 90 minutes. Everything worked perfectly. I think we knew then that we stood a very good chance.”

On 6 December, the tender was duly awarded to Broadcast Architect with an emphasis on rapid delivery and installation. Speaking to TVBEurope at the turn of February, Derigent confirms that the supply process is already well underway, with 15 EVO systems due to be provided by mid-summer. Installation work is being divided between Broadcast Architect and FTV’s own technical personnel.

Media management

Launched in 2010, EVO’s marketing pitch has revolved around its billing as a multi-purpose self-contained audio production system incorporating a high channel count (up to 230 channels into the mix), dedicated FPGA-based CrystalCore CC-1 hardware for mixing and processing, built-in video, and workflows capable of supporting virtually all SD and HD file formats.

For FTV, Broadcast Architect will supply 25 two-bay EVO consoles over a maximum period of 24 months – although Derigent expects that most systems will have been fitted by early 2014. As part of their objective to integrate audio post into a news production environment, the EVO systems will be implemented in conjunction with TTWASS (Total Tapeless Automation System Suite) – a bespoke workflow management tool conceptualised by Derigent himself.

Benefits for FTV of embracing this new digital workflow will be essentially three-fold, believes Kathriner. “Firstly, they will have access to faster operation through the tactile editing and mixing user interface,” he says. “Secondly, they will be able to take advantage of more efficient management of media through tapeless workflow and custom TTWASS implementation. Finally, EVO also heralds the full integration of video into the audio post process.”

In addition to hiring additional technical and IT staff to support the roll-out of the systems, Broadcast Architect is preparing to conduct an in-depth training programme for chief engineers at FTV following the initial system installations this spring. A dedicated technical hotline between Broadcast Architect and FTV will assist with any urgent enquiries, while Broadcast Architect has access to Fairlight’s IT and R&D departments for software-related back-up.

“The close collaboration between Broadcast Architect and Fairlight will continue to facilitate a fast and competent service both during and after this installation,” says Kathriner, who pays tribute to Broadcast Architect’s “in-depth experience with major installations, having implemented Fairlight workflow solutions for other broadcasters such as RTBF in Belgium.”

Post potential

The last five years have been anything but dull for Fairlight with a series challenges for the business affecting perceptions of its global profile. In 2012, an extensive restructuring effort took place and the company received support from a fresh owner, KFT Investments, and a new CEO in Kathriner, a former Bosch senior international sales and marketing executive.

It’s very early days for the new configuration, of course, but with the CrystalCore CC-1 platform continuing to draw plaudits, and a steady stream of new products – including the aforementioned Quantum system and the XStream Compact Desktop Controller – issuing forth from its Sydney base, there are realistic hopes that the company could be on course for its most stable and successful period since it was reformed back in 2003.

The extensive nature of the FTV deal certainly won’t hinder this progress, and Kathriner readily agrees that it is a “very significant” moment for Fairlight. “The contract is a testimony to the outstanding quality of Fairlight’s post production systems and its ability to handle complex workflows and deliver highest [quality] output,” he says. “It also reconfirms Fairlight’s strategy to work closely with its local network of system integration partners, including Broadcast Architect, and leverage their expertise in offering customised turn-key solutions as well as one point of contact and service support for our customers.”

In a global context, he adds, “this win contributes to the increasing number of broadcasters around the world now selecting Fairlight as their audio post production system of choice, and I am convinced that more post production customers in broadcast and private post will follow suit.”

By David Davies