Avid, EVS To Re-create Beijing Partnership in Vancouver

After a successful partnership in Beijing, Avid and EVS are once again teaming up to provide an all-HD workflow for the Olympics, this time for the 2010 winter edition in Vancouver.

“This is all about providing our customers with the ability to develop and integrate different systems to their needs and to their workflow,” says Patrick McLean, director or segment marketing for Avid. “NBC chose EVS for a lot of their ingest and playout requirements at the Olympics and chose Avid for their editorial environment.”

A Speed Agreement
Common media ensures a speedy workflow between Avid and EVS, so the two companies chose to work with DNX HD.

“This standardized media format was developed as a high-quality production codec that makes it easy for production use,” McLean says. “The other pillar of what makes this workflow smooth is the choice of an industry-standard MXF wrapper. That makes it easy to move media back and forth between our two systems.”

Adds Nicholas Bourdon, marketing and communications director for EVS, “EVS production systems have integrated the MXF HD format natively. That is a key element to allowing media to moved at extremely high speed [between EVS and Avid servers] without affecting the quality of the media.”

If It Works, Don’t Change It
Two years ago in Beijing, the workflow established between Avid and EVS worked so smoothly that no major changes will be made before the Vancouver Games.

“There is a kind of maturity that we’re achieving,” Bourdon says. “The collaboration that we established in Beijing, that was the reason that NBC wanted to renew this partnership and exploit this type of workflow. The feeling is that it will bring faster and richer content production.”

Catching Metadata Up to the Data
One area of update, however, will be in metadata exchange, which will now approach the level of fluidity of media exchange between the systems.

“Clearly, at an event such as the Olympics, metadata is key,” McLean explains. “There is a lot of information about what is taking place on the screen that goes with any given clip.”

Says Bourdon, “Metadata is a key element because EVS servers are recording a huge amount of content in HD during the games. Hours and hours of NBC content being recorded [in HD] on more than 30 XT[2] servers is indexed.”

Using IP Director, a production content-management system, NBC teams can log and associate metadata with the huge amount of content that will be recorded daily in Vancouver. Using the Avid Interplay production asset-management system, users no longer have to worry about what system they are working on.

“Operators can pull up information about the clip that was entered on one system but may be opened in another system, so there is a seamless exchange between the two,” McLean says.

“That will allow people to receive the extremely high-speed content that they’re looking for and to make it available to the postproduction teams that are working on the Avid stations,” Bourdon adds. “That definitely accelerates the operations of postproduction and allows people working on Avid to concentrate on the creative part.”

Services-Based Approach
EVS will have 15 staff members on-site in Vancouver; Avid will have seven. The size of the Olympic broadcast center means that many of the technicians working on the equipment will be freelancers, for whom the workflow may be new.

“When you bring in freelancers, there is often a moment of fear,” says Avid Applications Specialist James Murphy. “We sit these people down, give them a run-through on what it brings to the party, and they quickly embrace it. They see transfers happen while they continue working, so, from that initial fear, they see the positives that came out of it. The workflows are proven, and they embrace it pretty quickly.”

Avid, EVS Everywhere
Avid equipment will be placed in three locations in Vancouver. The IBC will house a 160-TB Avid Unity ISIS server, an Avid Interplay production asset-management system, 16 Avid Media Composer editing systems, and six Avid Symphony editing systems, along with EVS equipment. The venues on the ski mountain will house 11 Avid Media Composer editing systems with Avid Unity shared storage, alongside EVS servers, and the NBC News facility will have an additional 128-TB Unity ISIS, an Avid Interplay system, 13 Avid Media Composer editing systems, and six Avid AirSpeed servers for ingest and playout.

In addition to serving NBC and the IBC, Avid is working with a number of international broadcasters in Vancouver, including CTV, Eurosport, and Sky Italia.

“It’s a complex undertaking under a lot of real-time pressure,” McLean explains, “which is largely why there is a lot of confidence between [Avid and EVS] as partners and NBC on working on a proven and tested infrastructure, rather than going out and trying to establish new workflows at a place like this. The real challenge is logistical and ensuring that you’ve addressed the complexities of the situation. But there is also some confidence from the fact that it’s been done before.”

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