Sky News P2 HD Tapeless Workflow

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As the transition to HD tapeless news production workflows gains momentum throughout the industry, IBC2010 will present a forum to examine how one broadcast network has tackled the process.

EVS, which designs and sells video servers commonly used in fast-paced TV production, is organizing a workshop dedicated to the topic of HD tapeless news workflows, Sunday, Sept. 12, at 1:30 p.m., at the Elicium, Room 507, in the RAI Center.

Bevan Gibson, deputy head of technology at SkyNews, will present SkyNews’ transition to a tapeless HD production workflow. Alex Redfern, EVS technical support engineer and SkyNews project manager, will join Gibson during the presentation.

Since early May 2010, SkyNews productions at Osterley, London, and in Washington, D.C., have relied on an HD tapeless solution developed by EVS. The integrated solution covers the entire workflow from acquisition to playout, including central storage and media content management.

The workshop will present SkyNews’ original technical and production requirements, the advantages of going tapeless and the broadcaster’s plans for the future.

The catalyst for the move was coverage of Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in January 2009 which Sky News aired on Sky Arts HD. “It proved to be successful technically and in audience figures so there was a collective view to make this a permanent HD channel,” says Sky News Head of Technology, Steve Bennedik.

Sky News already had a tapeless strategy centered on media asset management and library system Viz Ardome and it had been capturing on Panasonic P2 SD/HD switchable (AJ-HPX2100) units for a couple of years. “We were also using Final Cut Pro in the field, so this gave us another advantage,” adds Bennedik. “We can ingest directly into the EVS servers system, or into our Ardome Ardendo tapeless library system. This can then be picked up by an editor in FCP, or journalist on EVS browser.”

Footage from Sky News crews is shot 1080i DVCPRO 100 and maintained as such through the process. Archive is the same as acquisition with P2 content ingested directly into the production environment.

Ingest is made into EVS via file transfer and can also be made into the Ardome system via Viz Media Porter. Two P2 players enable ingest in realtime if required.

Sky isn’t saying what percentage of its HD news channel will in fact be HD originated but it cannot mandate agencies like AP or Reuters to deliver in HD, even though both have standardised on P2.

“If the day features largely domestic news then you will see predominantly HD coverage, but if we have to rely on foreign stories or stories from remote locations then content is more likely to be SD uprezzed,” he reports. “Often where Sky leads, others follow but it would take other broadcasters transitioning to HD to ensure consistent agency HD delivery.”

HDW : So there you have it Sky are committed to P2 as their tapeless format so if you are a cameraman looking for freelance work then Panasonic P2 HD is your choice of camera…personally I think Sky are daft putting all their eggs in one basket, although high end P2 camcorders are cracking I don’t think the format matters these days as long as it’s delivered on 50Mbs or higher.

It’s not surprising that Sky chose Panasonic P2 as Panasonic were almost first out there with solid state P2 HD albeit a stupidly expensive workflow with P2 cards costing £1200 at one point, though Sky would not be paying those silly card prices. Companies like Panasonic throw themselves at news broadcasters to get a tender-ship, which is fine but more single users as a collective pay more for professional equipment over a year than broadcasters buy in ONE contract. I think single users should have a buying forum, if 50 end users wrote to Sony or Panasonic looking for 50 SxS or P2 camcorders they would get better prices than buying 50 single purchase camcorders…beat them at their own game…worth a thought.

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