Party Political Conferences Pioneer EVS’ Tapeless Server Technology

This
seasons party political conferences saw the introduction of IP Director – a
media management solution based on EVS XT Servers. With three sites over three
weeks, over 100 journalists and editors and limited time for training, how did
this tapeless server system perform?

The
benefits over tape-based production methods were clear: instant access to
multiple camera angles of “core” conference footage; ENG/Road tapes
ingested for instant shared access; logs of speeches linked directly to footage
as they happened; and “pooled” news events instantly shared between
the BBC and SKY News.

In
practice, the shared access enabled stories to be turned around much faster.
News programmes no longer had to fight for tapes; an advantage highlighted by
the massive demand for material featuring Cherie Blair’s alleged criticism of
Gordon Brown. A crucial interview with the Bloomberg Channel reporter arrived
on tape, was ingested on to the system, and made instantly available to all
editors; at once avoiding the frustrations of tape dubs and raised voices!

Logging of
all main speeches was managed in real-time by the production staff on the
IPDirector system. Bruce Baron Head of BBC MillBank News Resources:
“Many of the production teams are used
to getting this type of information from news systems such as Jupiter and
Newswire back at base. However, until the bandwidth is available from
OB sites to sustain or link to the “usual”
newsroom at base, IP Director is proving a powerful and robust solution.”

On live
outside broadcasts, production teams need to have confidence in the stability and
flexibility of the systems deployed. IP Director had performed well during the
2006 World Cup, though this system is cutting edge, the EVS XT Servers on which
it is based have been relied upon for many years in sports OBs for instant
replay and highlights production.

Though
training courses were run prior to the event, limited time meant on site
training and support was crucial. BBC Resources worked closely with Timeline
Television to ensure user support was available at all times. Baron thought
this was essential,
“The advice
and engineering effort was first class, being both proactive and very
integrated into the production process.”

The user
response was so strong during the first conference demand for workstations
almost doubled. Some hasty logistical juggling, a few speedy phone calls and an
extra server and 6 new workstations were dispatched to meet us at

Manchester. As Simon
Sinclair from Timeline Television Limited, the VT and EVS specialists who supplied
and supported the equipment points out:
“The
modular nature of the EVS servers enables blocks of ports to be added providing
seamless expansion. This has allowed Timeline Television to be extremely
adaptable to our customers needs.”

The final
configuration consisted of 4 live conference feed ingest ports, 3 rushes ingest
ports, 3 logging stations, 8 edit stations, 3 production stations and a TX
station for live transmission.

Simon
Sinclair believes that the success at this year’s conferences suggests that the
future is bright for tapeless technology solutions:
“We are seeing a massive increase in interest in this technology,
in a wide variety of applications from large sporting events to reality TV
programmes, any application keen to remove the need for tape archives and speed
up their ability to turn around edits.”

Henry
Alexander, EVS General Manager Europe, Middle and
Africa:

“The XT2 server strengths lie on
its field proven reliability, its unique reactivity, its ability to integrate
into any production environment and technical facilities. The experience we
gained in intense production environment, such as live sport events, allows us
today to offer the most appropriate solutions when it comes to any live and
near live production requirements.”

“We are very happy with the fruitful collaboration we have had
with Timeline Television Limited to successfully introduce the EVS XT2 and its
related media management software application IPDirector into the production of
the party Political Conference used by BBC and SKY News. This reveals again the
significant potential improvements of our instant tapeless solutions.”

Overall
the smooth running of the three weeks seemed to come down to several key
points; the stability of the system; flexibility to grow with demand; a
patient, encouraging approach to training and possibly most importantly of all
an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team.

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