Germany’s ARD-aktuell Upgrades to HD with Quantel Production System

German broadcaster ARD-aktuell went on-air in April with a full HD service for all its news broadcasts, with production powered by a Quantel Enterprise sQ fast-turnaround production system. ARD-aktuell, whose flagship Tagesschaü program is the most-watched daily news show in Germany, has relied on Quantel technology for news production since 2006. The move to all-HD production required a major upgrade of ARD-aktuell’s Quantel system, all carried out while daily news production operations continued unaffected.

The new HD Enterprise sQ system supports around 100 sQ Cut desktop editors on the journalists’ desktops, which are fully integrated with ARD-aktuell’s NRCS. In addition, ten Quantel craft editing workstations handle production of high production value news packages. The Enterprise sQ system is split into two zones to provide additional redundancy and has storage for 600 hours of HD — more than enough to keep a full week’s media instantly available to all users of the system, including journalists and editors working on the weekly Sunday news round-up show, Wochenspiegel.

“We carried out extensive checks to ensure that the system would continue to perform faultlessly with the higher data load of HD,” said Andreas Lützkendorf, Head of Programming for tagesschau24. “It was very important to us that the production workflow wasn’t compromised during the four months’ changeover period to HD, and the Quantel system met this requirement and is delivering very stable performance at HD.”

“We have chosen to stay with a two-zone model not only to ensure that broadcasting can continue even in the event of a major failure but also to allow upgrades to be carried out without taking the system off air. For a broadcaster who is transmitting around the clock it is not possible to go off-air to install an upgrade,” explains Detlef Kopp, ARD-aktuell’s Technical Head. “We’re producing 14 hours of programming a day with the Enterprise sQ system; for our news production users, it’s a real success story.”

The ARD-aktuell upgrade also entailed the construction and commissioning of a new 320m² HD news studio, which includes a 17.5m media wall behind the news anchors’ desks, featuring a constantly changing panorama of pictures and graphics. The studio includes two galleries – one for the daily news shows such as Tagesschaü and Tagesthemen, the second for tagesschau24, ARD-aktuell’s 24 hour news channel.

“We are delighted to be continuing our long-term relationship with ARD-aktuell and to have helped them transition smoothly to HD production,” said Martin Mulligan, Quantel Sales Director “Tagesschaü at 8 p.m. is Germany’s most watched news program, and system stability and productivity are vital in its continuing success; these are key attributes of our Enterprise sQ fast-turnaround production systems.”


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