LA Style with an Intergrated Avid Solution
The high expectations of the upscale population in the resort towns of Palm Desert and Palm Springs, Calif., extend to its preferences for timely, sophisticated news coverage. At Gulf-California Broadcast Company, this presents a few challenges.
Gulf-California Broadcasting: Delivering the News L.A. Style with an Integrated Avid Solution
The high expectations of the upscale population in the Coachella Valley resort towns of Palm Desert and Palm Springs, Calif., extend to its preferences for timely, sophisticated news coverage. For B. J. Daup, IT director at Gulf-California Broadcast Company, this presents two challenges: 1) delivering newscasts with the same high level of quality offered by major Los Angeles stations on a mid-market budget; and 2) keeping pace with growth by using scalable editing systems that can be extended cost-effectively as requirements change.
Since the purchase of its first Avid Media Composer systems approximately six years ago, Gulf-California Broadcasting has been working hand-in-hand with Avid Technology, Inc. to achieve these objectives. Today, the broadcast organization operates three news stations to serve the Coachella Valley region. These stations include KESQ-TV ABC, KECY-TV Fox, and KUNA TV Telemundo, which caters to the region's large Hispanic population. Gulf-California Broadcasting leverages one end-to-end, ingest-to-playout solution at the central KESQ-TV facility in Palm Desert to provide content to all three stations.
L.A. stations are known for their sharp, edgy content ... This requires us to be on top of our news game. That's why we use Avid systems across all our stations.
Staying on Top of the News Game
As IT director, Daup oversees network communications, computer development, and IT project management and strategic planning for the stations, all of which provide a complete range of news programming with local and national news, weather, evening sports, and special features. The company's full schedule consists of three, one-hour morning newscasts and one, hour-long noon broadcast. In the evening, there are five, half-hour newscasts and one hour-long news show. To maximize efficiencies, the company repeats its 5am to 7am newscast on ABC from 7am to 9am on its Fox channel.
All stations rely on satellite feeds to bring in national news coverage from Los Angeles and across the U.S., using third-party, digital media solutions such as Pathfire and Fox News Edge systems. The broad scope of this coverage and the stations' proximity to the sophisticated L.A. market, a short two-hour drive away, requires Gulf-California Broadcasting to constantly raise the bar on broadcast quality to produce premium, up-to-the-minute news programming.
Explains Daup, L.A. stations are known for their sharp, edgy content. We need to replicate that here in the Coachella Valley. This requires us to be on top of our news game. That's why we use Avid systems across all our stations.
Achieving the Look of Big-Market News
Daup credits the company's six Avid NewsCutter XP systems for the sleek, eye-catching look of its newscasts. The NewsCutter systems are shared in the Gulf-California Broadcasting newsroom by all anchors, photographers, reporters, and editors.
Notes Daup, NewsCutter gives us the ability to create packages that integrate all kinds of special effects and graphics - such as 3-D moving maps, logos, graphics, and color correction. With all effects in one stream, everything is integrated, which means we don't have to rely on human intervention to get the timing of transitions down right. As a result, our transitions are smooth and the look is clean.
The NewsCutter system's capabilities are complemented by the newsroom's Avid Deko on-air graphics system, which is used to create full screens and lower thirds for a sophisticated, professional presentation. With Avid's tight integration between products, it is even possible for Deko graphics to be inserted directly into the NewsCutter timeline, further streamlining news production.
Networking for Responsiveness and Growth
At the heart of the Gulf-California Broadcasting media network is the Avid Unity LANshare for News media network solution. Delivering 5.2 terabytes of real-time, shared-media access, the Avid Unity LANshare system integrates with the Avid Unity MediaManager asset management software to give editors easy, drag-and-drop access to media clips and finished segments. Avid Unity TransferManager also enables Gulf-California Broadcasting to import content from Pathfire and other third-party digital media solutions to the LANshare shared-storage system.
The company's Avid setup, which is designed for a truly open systems workflow, integrates transparently with its ENPS newsroom system. With this level of interoperability, Gulf-California Broadcasting can easily deliver the late-breaking, comprehensive news coverage Coachella Valley viewers expect - in one seamless, end-to-end process.
Notes Daup, The integration factor [with third-party systems] has been a big advantage for us. It enables us to optimize the capabilities of our proven, familiar newsroom systems, while maximizing efficiencies and quality, end-to-end.
The integration factor has been a big advantage for us. It enables us to optimize the capabilities of our proven, familiar newsroom systems, while maximizing efficiencies and quality, end-to-end.
Daup's newscasts may look and sound like those in L.A.; however, his budgets do not come close to those found in major markets. To resolve this conundrum, Avid worked closely with Gulf-California Broadcasting to design solutions that optimize the company's processes, systems, and expertise - and foster growth. One benefit is that Gulf-California Broadcasting can get content from the field to air fast, with no compromises in quality.
The workflow starts in the field where Gulf-California Broadcasting uses Avid Xpress Pro editing software on desktop computers in live trucks. Here, field reporters edit video and send it to the newsroom in digital format via a wireless cell-phone connection. Next, video is uploaded to an FTP server, so newsroom editors can download it for editing on any of the company's six Avid NewsCutter XP systems. From the NewsCutter systems, editors transfer the content to the Avid AirSpeed server for playout.
All of this happens faster than in real time, says Daup. To compress our turnaround times even more, we plan to upgrade from Avid Xpress Pro to NewsCutter in our trucks in 2007. The NewsCutter software, which comes equipped with TransferManager software, will enable the field crew to quickly send media directly to the Avid Unity setup at KESQ, eliminating the need to upload and download files via FTP. The NewsCutter software also offers more than 20 news-specific features that offer added time savings, such as Auto VO, which instantly repurposes news packages into voice-over B-roll sequences for use in later newscasts or promos, or the NRCS Tool, which can instantly open an ENPS window inside the NewsCutter interface.
In the newsroom, two Avid AirSpeed I/O servers and AirSpeed CountDown playout automation software integrate with the ENPS system for a seamless playout operation devoid of tapes - and the expenses and hassles that come with them. In addition to streamlining the entire playout process, the all-digital solution reduces errors significantly.
Explains Daup, If a producer needs to move a story from the top of a newscast to the bottom, it's as easy as dragging a story from the top of a rundown list to the bottom of the rundown in our ENPS [newsroom computer] system. Then the ENPS system requests an ID from Avid AirSpeed with the MOS protocol, enabling CountDown to move the video down with the story.
Daup finds the simple, drag-and-drop process supported by the integration of its newsroom computer system with Avid AirSpeed to be an especially important benefit. He explains: Before Avid AirSpeed, we played everything off tape in our master control system. If a producer wanted to move a story from the top of a rundown to the bottom, he'd need to tell the person in master control to physically get the tape. This left lots of room for error.
The Avid AirSpeed system not only helps to ensure top-quality news video - it also provides efficient news distribution for all three stations, playing out content from one central location.
Taking Networking to a Higher Level
With the Avid Unity LANshare solution, Gulf-California Broadcasting has seamlessly evolved from a tape-to-tape operation to a fully nonlinear, ingest-to-playout editing network. To achieve the throughput and scalability required to support its growth, Daup is taking the company's Avid solution to the next level with an upgrade to the Avid Unity for News system.
We're going from Ethernet-based clients to Fibre-based clients - which is huge. The [Avid] Unity for News will give us more capability. We'd also like to add a second AirSpeed for even greater ingest capability, he says.
Because of his high level of experience working with Avid products, Daup and Gulf-California Broadcasting's former manager of information systems, Ian Horsburgh, handled installation of the new Avid Unity for News system in house. In addition, the company will continue to leverage the cost effectiveness of its LANshare solution by passing it along to one of its smaller broadcast facilities in Idaho Falls.
Choosing the Longevity Advantage
Nearly three years ago, Gulf-California Broadcasting chose Avid over multiple vendors, including Leitch and NewsKing, to support its move to an all-digital, integrated ingest-to-playout workflow, primarily because of the longevity of Avid's proven track record in the newsroom environment. It was a decision that Daup believes will help his broadcast operations maintain a healthy future too.
Explains Daup: We had just gotten into the nonlinear game, and we needed a vendor with experience. One of the reasons we chose Avid is that it had been in business the longest. We also knew Avid systems were stable. Avid's recent purchases of Pinnacle and Sundance are testament to its commitment to furthering the strength of its end-to-end networking solution.
* CREDIT: Photos: Courtesy of KESQ-TV, Palm Springs, Calif.
Provide comprehensive, eye-catching local news programming to an upscale market on a mid-market budget.
Produce all programming in one central location for broadcast on three stations.
Use an all-digital, integrated, ingest-to-playout workflow centered on an Avid Unity LANshare shared-storage solution, six NewsCutter XP editing systems, and an Avid AirSpeed ingest/playout server.For courses in writing, recording, mixing or mastering music, Avid has the tools the pros use to make Grammy-award winning albums, Oscar-winning film scores and fantastic sound at some of the world's best concert venues.