KOTV News

As anyone interested in the news business knows, there's more to a good story than just the here and now. The most gripping news pieces often include a compelling back story that helps viewers put the news of the day into context. And the end of a segment in today's newscast is often just the start of tomorrow's developing news.

At KOTV in Tulsa, Okla., the news and marketing teams use the Avid Archive solution with SGL FlashNet archive management software and QualStar robotic tape libraries to get fast, easy nonlinear access to nearly 30 years of stored media footage. With the solution's intuitive and robust search and retrieval functions, multiple team members can quickly and simultaneously locate and pull footage from as far back as 1978 to add depth to current newscasts and promotions. At the end of each day, all media captured and broadcast is transferred to the Avid Archive solution to be stored and managed for future use.

While other vendors are focused mostly on interface, Avid is so far ahead in total media management.

- Steve Schroeder, News Operation Manager, KOTV

Speed and Collaboration: The Archive Advantage

SGL FlashNet is an archive management application that integrates with KOTV's Avid Unity MediaNetwork shared-storage solution to provide powerful digital media transfer, storage, restoration, and retrieval functions. As a plug-in to the Avid Unity system, the SGL FlashNet software enables the tape archive to appear as a simple, large extension to the workgroup and to be accessed as easily as current, online footage. The KOTV archival setup provides enough storage to hold approximately 2800 hours of video at DV25 resolution.

For KOTV, the Avid Archive solution with FlashNet provides much more than safe and abundant storage of previously used footage - it also offers a library of readily accessible content for current production. We access SGL FlashNet daily to create news stories, explains news operations manager Steve Schroeder. For example, if a station editor is working [with the NewsCutter system] on a story about an accused criminal being brought to trial, he or she can add interest by weaving in historical footage from when the crime was committed. With SGL FlashNet, the editor can put the complete story package together 20 to 30 minutes faster than with our previous, videotape archiving system.

At the same time, someone on our marketing staff can access the system to retrieve footage from a past news story for use in a station image campaign, continues Schroeder. The solution also aids in legal and clerical tasks as well. When the station is subpoenaed for a story, we can use [the Avid Archive solution] to easily find and retrieve the content in question, without limiting access to others who need archived footage to get our broadcasts on air.

This speedy media access and on-demand flexibility enables KOTV to create the most compelling stories for a full slate of news programs. This includes a four-hour morning show; a one-hour show at noon; 30-minute programs at 5pm and 6pm; and a 35-minute program at 10pm. Schroeder also supports a 9pm news program for the station's CW affiliate in Tulsa, which operates from the same building as KOTV.

KOTV also shares stories with its sister station in Oklahoma City, KWTV. The two stations are approximately 100 miles apart and cover many of the same stories. Both stations are equipped with an Avid nonlinear broadcast workflow based on Avid Unity shared storage, which includes the same Avid Archive solution.

Schroeder describes the ease with which news stories and archival footage are shared using the Avid Archive solution. Rather than book satellite time, we just use [the] NewsCutter [system] to initiate a transfer at our convenience and provide everyone at both stations access to the same media at the same time. This command invokes the Avid Unity TransferManager at each site to move the file in the background into the receiving site's Avid Unity shared storage. It saves a lot of time and work by eliminating the need to feed media in real time. And we don't need people at both stations talking the transfer through, he says.

Whether we need to put stories on the Internet, on cell phones, or on the air, we can use [the] NewsCutter [system] to do it.

- Steve Schroeder, News Operation Manager, KOTV

SGL FlashNet Anchors Complete, Avid Nonlinear Workflow

Schroeder considers the SGL FlashNet software to be a key element of the station's completely digital Avid broadcast workflow, which begins in the field and concludes with the transfer of footage to the Avid Archive solution. He explains, Our people in the field shoot footage on Panasonic P2 memory cards, rather than videotape. We then ingest the media with a file transfer set and move it to the station's Avid Unity MediaNetwork. This gives everyone with editing responsibilities simultaneous access [to the media].

The station's NewsCutter nonlinear news editing systems connect to shared storage and can work directly with both the newly captured footage and the media retrieved from archive. Once editing is complete, footage slated for production is transferred to one of the station's Avid AirSPACE servers for playout to air, says Schroeder. At the end of the day, editors transfer all footage to the FlashNet system for archiving, keeping seven days worth of online media on the Avid Unity MediaNetwork. After seven days, the station deletes that media from the [Avid] Unity [system], knowing that it's securely stored and easily accessible on FlashNet.

At the heart of KOTV's digital broadcast workflow is the Avid Unity MediaNetwork shared-storage solution, which enables the entire staff to simultaneously share everything from source media to graphics, promos, and edited stories. Schroeder explains, Before moving to shared storage, pulling the various pieces of a news story together was much harder. A photographer would come back to the station with one videotape, and everyone would clamor to use it at the same time. With shared storage, a photographer can edit footage for a story [on a NewsCutter system], while an editor cuts teases and a reporter picks sound bytes through the Avid [Unity] MediaManager [asset management software]. No one has to wait for one task to be completed to start another. Everything can happen simultaneously.

KOTV has always been a technology innovator. The station's history with Avid solutions stretches back nearly 20 years when KOTV began using the Avid iNEWS newsroom computer system. In the late 1990s, the station bought a standalone Avid NewsCutter system. By the early part of the 21st century, KOTV was virtually tape free and powering news with an integrated, end-to-end Avid nonlinear workflow, making the staff more productive than ever.

KOTV currently uses six NewsCutter Adrenaline systems and six NewsCutter XP systems connected to the Avid Unity shared-storage system for editing stories and promos. These editing stations are used across the company: on desktop systems in the newsroom and marketing department, and on laptops by KOTV business travelers and in the station's production trucks.

NewsCutter is quick. It's also robust and bullet-proof, says Schroeder. With all its capabilities, it fits the bill for virtually anyone at the station. Whether we need to put stories on the Internet, on cell phones, or on the air, we can use [the] NewsCutter [system] to do it.

For getting media from playout to air and recording feeds, KOTV uses two Avid AirSPACE servers and seven Avid AirSpeed systems, respectively. These systems have delivered dramatic productivity improvements over videotape. Specifically, they have enabled the KOTV marketing department to complete promos faster, and as a result, take on more projects. Schroeder also credits AirSPACE servers and AirSpeed systems for cutting the time it takes to produce a news story by as much as 50 percent.

Schroeder describes walking into the editing department prior to the station's 5pm, 30-minute newscast, about two weeks after converting to digital playout servers. To me, it looked as if the editors were just sitting around, Schroeder says. When I asked them what the problem was, they assured me that nothing was wrong. With our Avid servers, they had been able to finish preparing for the show a whole 15 minutes before airtime. We were all amazed that it had taken us that much longer before.

Completing the Avid workflow is the iNEWS NRCS (newsroom computer system). With it, KOTV easily ingests and processes newswires from external sources such as AP and CNN. The station also uses iNEWS systems for scriptwriting and production, as well as for its teleprompter. The iNEWS ControlAir automation-assist system triggers playout of video and CG events based on the order and timing of the events in the newscast rundown. By automating many activities previously managed manually, iNEWS systems significantly reduce errors and disruptions in viewer service.

When a producer puts a story in the rundown, [the] iNEWS [system] shows a column indicating whether the story is ready to play to air. The column shows a 'no' until the story is cut and transferred to [the] AirSPACE [server]. When the transfer is complete, the column shows a 'yes,' alerting the producer that the story is there and ready to play to air, says Schroeder.

A Story in Progress

In Schroeder's view, the story about the successful working relationship between KOTV and Avid is far from over. We'll look at anything Avid comes out with and evaluate it for KOTV use, he says. We chose Avid in the first place because they addressed the whole picture. While other vendors are focused mostly on interface, Avid is so far ahead in total media management. With its superior workgroup and transfer capabilities, Avid has provided everything that everyone at the station needs to get their job done.

*CREDITS: Courtesy of KOTV