Reinventing Live Television Coverage

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-07-15 Print this article Print

How does a network shoot, edit and air all that video in a manner that will tell all the various stories and keep viewers interested? Simple: It distributes everything.

Matt Adams, vice president of broadcast solutions at Omneon, worked for NBC for 10 years. He was brought to Omneon two years ago to come up with new applications of its technology and to find new markets.

"This, of course, is a huge amount of finished content to be delivered, so we had to come up with a pretty radical workflow in order to make that much content," Adams told me. "We also didn't want to haul everybody and their uncle over to Beijing, because [NBC] couldn't afford it, basically."

Omneon worked with NBC for more than a year to come up with a workflow plan "that would allow people to work at home in the United States and repurpose the content that NBC captures over there and deliver it to the different distribution outlets," Adams said.

Adams, Omneon and NBC came up with a concept called "proxy-based workflow."

"This requires making low-res copies of thousands of hours of competitions that are captured in our storage system in Beijing, and using a product called ProCast-a video acceleration management product that proxies the images over to another media-grid storage server in New York," Adams said.

"Then all 40 [at-home] editors-we call them shot-pickers-make their shot selections using the proxies. Once they decide which shots they want to make a deliverable piece with, then the system sends the proxies back to Beijing [to NBC's data center headquarters], where the high-res clips are called up from the main arrays to match the [low-res MPG4] proxies that have been selected."

An XML file of metadata is made for each low-res video package that accompanies the video via virtual private network to Beijing. NBC production editors in Beijing-or, as a backup, in New York-then use the metadata to locate and link the individual high-res pieces together at their own editing workstations to construct a finished piece. Those editors responsible for the finished content can pick and choose what they want from the shot-pickers' selections.

Only after the piece has been plotted out shot by shot is the accompanying high-res video brought up from the storage arrays to make a broadcast-worthy file.

This saves a great deal of time, effort, power and I/O in threading through all the hours of video to be shot. "We'd clog up the data pipes between the at-home editors, New York and Beijing if we didn't use proxies," Adams said.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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