CBC Minimizes Beijing Staff by Maximizing Overseas Workflow Via Avid, EVS

By Andrew Lippe

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) will blaze a trail beginning this Friday that other networks may follow for future Olympic games. In order to minimize staffing, equipment, and production costs, while maximizing quality, the vast majority of the CBC’s coverage will be edited at CBC Headquarters in Toronto.

“It allows us to have all of our best equipment, that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to take abroad, available to us with all the bells and whistles in an integrated HD environment,” says Trevor Pilling, CBC executive producer for the CBC’s English-language coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics. “That is hard to simulate on the road.”

In terms of personnel in Beijing CBC is only sending 125, a fraction of what NBC Olympics will be sending. Those 125 will use 25 Sony XDCAM cameras to capture action and interviews, the first time CBC has used the Sony XDCAM systems in a live production.

A total of 32 transmission paths, 22 HD and 10 SD, are being provided by T-Systems STM4 network to transport signals from Beijing. CBC will then use 13 edit suites, four Avid and nine EVS IPEdit suites, to prepare tape-delayed coverage that is stored on EVS servers. Two Avid systems and two EVS IPEdit stations will also be in Beijing.

“One of the biggest challenges is how you deal with HD media when it requires so much more bandwidth. Many technologies would eat up a lot of time in rendering and transferring,” says Pilling. “The EVS system is really going to give us the opportunity to cover Olympics how we cover Olympics which is very much live and very much quick turn around of sport.”

Canadians will receive more than 2,500 hours of HD coverage of the games, including 1,500 hours of content streamed live on CBCsports.ca. Programming will be featured on CBC Television, CBC bold, CBC Newsworld, and TSN.

“This workflow is built on a foundation of knowledge,” says Pilling. “Our engineers and technicians have been conceiving and working on this project for well over two years.”

While the IPEdit systems will be used for quick timeline editing without requiring rendering time, Pilling says the Avid editing suites are a necessity to complete the programming. CBC will also use Harris Inscriber G7 to incorporate 3D real–time graphics into our broadcast for the first time. “When we do our fancy openings, or we want to add colorization, we do that in the Avid suites,” says Pilling.

“Preparation and pre-work is always a key to success,” says Pilling. “I think that is part of the Olympics. Whether you are an athlete who is giving their all or a TV production person who is committed to broadcasting Olympic Games it is an endurance test and you have to bring the best of what you have.”

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