Golf Channel Tees Up Collaborative Performance with Avid
Broadcasting since 1996, the Golf Channel is the non-stop shop for golf on cable. Now, with the recent installation of a fully-integrated, Interplay-based workflow, collaboration is the name of its game.
After looking at other solutions on the market, the Golf Channel chose to go with the one solution they felt could make everything work together and provide everyone with unlimited access to their media. Nothing else seemed able to live up to that standard.
This new workflow allows contributors to go from ingest to editing, pass the material to Pro Tools for audio sweetening, then pass it back again so that it can be mixed together and sent to Command for playout. In addition, the system manages composition metadata, making all the various pieces involved in the production chain visible. Now able to log directly into the system, editors and producers alike can see everything reflected across all the various platforms.
There was nothing else out there that does what Avid does.
Nothing Else Does What Avid Does
According to Dustin Guest, Digital Asset Manager, "this workflow simply did not exist with all the other products we saw. There was nothing else out there that does what Avid does."
Providing the producer, editor, and managers of the various departments with immediate visibility into the production process has been the key to helping everyone realign how they were interacting. Instead of seeing their work as a separate unit, contributors have become more integral to the projects they are working on.
"Allowing us to get all the various people together, and let them see and talk with each other about the same material has made our on-air product a lot better," comments Guest.
The "contribution factor," as Guest terms it, has significantly advanced the channel's ability to control the way in which their media is produced. Folder controls and the ability to narrow searches more adroitly has provided unparalleled media access. And more media access means more choices.
"It's really allowed us to organize the media we have," remarks Lindsay Vasser, Video Editor, "and become much more efficient and creative. Even if someone does things a little differently, seeing the way they've organized it in Interplay gives us a much better opportunity to build upon what they've done."
The ability to track and exchange compositional metadata is key to maximizing visibility, integrating with both Avid and third-party solutions, and dealing with many different sources, from tape to direct XDCAM ingest. This has allowed the channel to remain technologically agnostic and, since the workflow is based on passing around the same ones and zeros, retain complete image quality.
"The way I think about it is that it's like live television with the advantage of being able to do your post edit at the same time," states Guest. "You can do all the different things you were doing in post with the immediacy of live television. It's like live post."
Covering PGA Tournaments every Thursday and Friday the association plays, the LPGA, and Champion's Tour requires Golf Channel to ingest content, turn it into digital assets, and catalog it as quickly as possible. In fact, turnaround time has become tantamount the channel's success in rapidly expanding its presence throughout the golfing enthusiast world.
"Time is of the essence," remarks Roger Hastings, Broadcast IT Systems Engineer. "Before Interplay, it would typically take an hour to ingest a show. Now we can just put it into the editor, manipulate it, then kick it back out as an HD file. It certainly speeds things up, particularly in an HD world."
"We can use pretty much anything out there," says Guest, "marry it together, see how it looks, then put it out to air with lightning speed."
Making Major Moves
Interplay has played a pivotal role in helping Golf Channel make two major moves. Over the past three years, the station has migrated from an SD to HD format as well as tape-based to file-base workflows, a process that included a rebuild of playout, production controls, sets, and editing. Though the effort on both was substantial, moving from tape-based to a file-based platform had a stronger internal impact. The increment in speed, functionality, and metadata movement made it necessary to not only accommodate new technology, but rethink the way everyone at the Golf Channel worked.
"It made us take a major step away from linear thinking, and start approaching things in a non-linear way," says Guest.
Immediate playback, for instance, enables producers and editors to see something they want to put in a quick highlight package, create it in a matter of minutes and go directly to air. All they have to do is build it, transfer it to the playout device, and push it out.
"You can create an immediacy that was never there before," Guest observes.
Long story short, it's the full end-to-end workflow that has been the system's most appealing element. Integrating everything from third-party solutions to Pro Tools, the Golf Channel now has a facility that helps everyone make most of their media by simply working better together.
"My phone's not ringing as much as it used to," laughs Hastings, "and my inbox has quit filling up quite as fast with questions or problems. I've actually had a couple of days off recently."
Like My Best Friend Now
Echoing that sentiment, Vasser enthuses, "the best part of the Avid system is the ability it gives me to collaborate more effectively by using all the products in conjunction with one another. It's what allows me to get the best quality work done the quickest. I work on an Avid system most every day. It's like my best friend now."
Build and maintain the channel’s presence as the predominant non-stop shop for golf on cable.
Employ Avid Interplay as the foundation of an end-to-end workflow structured to optimize the collaborative capabilities of the entire production team.