Following a call-for-tender, Broadcasting Center Europe (BCE) was selected in January 2016 by HRT for the integration of a file-based production system. Based on a digital archive infrastructure with Media Asset Management (MAM), HRT wanted to accelerate programme production workflows and upgrade the current linear production system while being compatible with both SD and HD content.
As a national public service broadcaster, HRT is mainly financed by viewer/listener license fees and advertising. It has well exceeded a million radio and television listeners/viewers. HRT has seven regional radio stations and five regional TV centres. The TV channels are broadcast both on terrestrial in Croatia and on satellite (Eutelsat 16°) as well as on OTT for worldwide coverage.
“BCE’s expertise was a real asset for the success of this transition to a file-based production environment. They gave us smart advice for our development and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership in the near future,” comments Robert Brkic, Senior Engineer at HRT.
Federating the users
The current tape-based workflow had high operational costs due to the use of tapes, maintenance costs and an obsolescence problem with the video tape recorders and intensive labour with slow processes. It was, therefore, paramount for the national Croatian broadcaster to upgrade their complete workflow to file-based technology.
“The aim of the upgrade of HRT ingest, processing distribution and archiving infrastructure is to federate users of the production department, providing ease of access to content but also to work on tasks in order to simplify workflow and boost department’s efficiency,” comments Nicolas Serres, System Architect at BCE.
The new production platform needed to simplify access to content, including audio and video files and its metadata. But the environment also required upgrading with a simplified interface allowing any user in the production department to check work orders and tasks along with consulting and working on the content.
A powerful core for interoperability
To ensure a seamless transition of HRT to the actual needs of the media world, BCE integrated a full production asset management (PAM) system. Completely file-based, the new infrastructure is centralised around a powerful core which can manage any in/outgest operations.
The heart of the platform is based on Grass Valley’s Stratus Media management and K2 media servers and shared storage systems. The K2 series, while staying open to many third-party products and applications, is an extensive and flexible line of media servers, storage and integrated playout devices, crucial for HRT’s file-based production facility.
“The evolution to a file-based workflow is paramount for the media market, we are glad to upgrade the HRT infrastructure with state-of-the-art systems, including Grass Valley and Oracle solutions,” says Frederic Fievez, Project Development Manager at BCE.
With a central storage dimensioned for up to 13.000 hours of HD content, the core can ingest any type of content and transcode it directly into ready-to-work files for the production team. The system also integrates an automated QC system from Tektronix to ensure the quality of recorded content.
Interfacing the existing systems
With their tape-based infrastructure, the national broadcaster was already well equipped with numerous systems. BCE ensured the seamless integration of these platforms within the new tapeless workflow.
As a result, the new ingest servers allow ingest from different sources or material such as ENG/XDCam drive, VTR and and live feed. The PAM system ingests the different sources, performs detailed QCs and transcodes files if necessary. These files are then available on HiRes as well as LoRes storages. The PAM is also connected to other environments of the company such as playout, news and media distribution.
“In a tape to file transition project, it is paramount to be able to interconnect the different departments and systems with the new infrastructure. Grass Valley K2 series perfectly meets this interoperability requirement,” explains Jean Lampach, CTDO at BCE.
Re-purposing and producing
To ensure production of new content as well as content repurposing, BCE integrated browsing and editing stations. Directly connected with the PAM system, HRT can browse and view the different ingested content in real time. Thanks to a smart graphic user interface, the user can not only easily consult and create work orders, but also select a file and start its edition.
Editing can be done online via 10 HiRes Edius Craft editing stations or via 30 Stratus Proxy Editing/Browsing desktop applications. The production team can work on new material and create new programmes for later use or can work on live programmes as well.
Grass Valley’s applications are equipped with the necessary tools to meet HRT production needs. Once edited, the new masters are saved on the central storage ready for transmission or for archiving.
In addition to the high availability central storage, a deep archive from Oracle has been integrated as well. Directly connected to the central storage, HRT can easily store content through FPD HSM on LTO6 and T10K drives or upload content back from the digital library to the production environment.
In line with customer request, BCE integrated redundant transmission servers to ensure the resilience of the national broadcaster operations. The new infrastructure was launched in July 2016, six months after the tender procedure.
BCE provides training sessions on the new production environment as well as assistance during the first month of system operation.
“Integrating a production asset management system for HRT opens up new possibilities for Croatia’s national broadcaster. The system is flexible and has room for any future upgrades, allowing HRT to evolve technologically without the need to change their complete workflow. The success of this project in this short time-frame was possible thanks to a perfect collaboration between BCE and HRT engineers as well as the different retailers involved.” Concludes Nicolas Serres, System Architect at BCE.