DIRECTV’S Red Zone now in house with Quantel’s sQ Server

By Carl Lindemann

DirecTV has brought
production for its Red Zone Channel in house and moved from SD to HD
with the installation and implementation of a Quantel full Enterprise sQ
server-based sports production system.

Red Zone Channel, a service available to NFL Sunday Ticket
customers who have the “Superfan” option, gathers key plays and highlights from
the games as they happen. Eventually, the system will also be used to produce
NASCAR’s HotPass. The inaugural production last weekend brought to a close a
selection process for the right technology that started at the beginning of the
year. The decision to go with Quantel was announced at NAB in April.

According to Tom
McGowan, Quantel’s Chief Executive Officer, North America, the winning edge
came from special insight into DirecTV’s workflow requirements. This
comes from other sports production installations including

ESPN and Fox Sports. At IBC last week, the
company announced that Rogers Media had chosen a Quantel Enterprise sQ
server-based production system for its Canadian cable television sports
specialty channel, Rogers Sportsnet.

“Producing sports is not the same as a large news operation,
though both have m

any people viewing
and editing and hitting the server at the same time. Someone is making a rough
cut while another is doing a polished piece while another is cutting a promo,”
said McGowan.

The difference, he
says, is in the need to ingest content from far more sources, log it by adding
metadata, then playout across multiple platforms.

“A key requirement for DirecTV is the ability
to interface to a logging system. There’s many ingests gathering highlights
from different games, different sports. These all have to be logged so that you
can share all the assets immediately with multiple playouts to different streams
including those for satellite broadcast, over the air and cell phones,” McGowan

Another big plus for
DirecTV is how the Quantel system unified SD and HD production.

“You need to have SD
and HD in same box. There is a tremendous advantage having just the one asset
to manage instead of multiple ones,” said McGowan.

Quantel’s DirecTV
installation has five servers that each support about 90 hours of IMX 30 video,
which equates to around 30 hours of DV100 HD. The separate servers are tied
together under the company’s database data management system called ISA (for
Integrated Server Architecture). Under ISA, they appear as a single unit. The
system records all the Sunday football games offered by both networks. Each
recording is approximately five hours long from the pre-game shows to post game

The key to
leveraging the server-based workflow for multi-platform playout is adding
metadata. Dixon Sports Computing logs each game by tagging every play with data
including who was the QB, the receiver, how far did they run, was it a score,
was it a turnover, etc. As it is entered into the ISA database, any editor or
playout person can immediately find the clip, play it to air or add it to an
edit, immediately after it has been logged.

Quantel’s Dave
Watro, a Senior Product Specialist – Broadcast, had the hands-on at the DirecTV
installation. He sees significant sports workflow savings in the manpower
investment needed for replays.

“The playout operator can jump to the point
where the server is currently recording, back up and find the start of play,
and put a replay to air moments after the event happened, said Watro.

“This eliminates the need for loads of EVS

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