Express TV is the latest 24x7 news channel from Andhra Pradesh – the state with possibly the highest number of multiple news channels. Headquartered in Hyderabad, Express TV will operate out of Vijayawada, Vishakhapatnam, Tirupati and Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, with a belief that presenting news without adding color or bias and covering more deep-rooted local stories will be the unique selling proposition that will set it apart from its competitors.
Real Image Media Technologies provided the entire end-to-end broadcast solution, delivering one of the fastest set-ups from inception to on-air. With a 25-year track record in the media business, Real Image has installed, designed and trained the many users at Express TV in an extremely short time span – facilitating a smooth and powerful launch that just precedes the country’s 2014 elections.
With products from Avid, MOG Technologies and Avid, a practical and functional workflow has been designed to facilitate easy adaptation for the users. With more than six channels in Hyderabad already on an Avid newsroom management system, most users at Express TV had already been exposed to the highly efficient Avid broadcast workflow. The training merely familiarized staff with the updated versions of the various components and also introduced them to the new file-based workflows.
Enabling efficient collaboration
GopalRao, Chief Technology Officer for Express TV, had previously worked with an Avid newsroom workflow during his time as the Technical in Charge at NTV, another popular news channel from Hyderabad. He says, “Staff using the Avid newsroom workflow and related products at Express TV are very comfortable. The new users have also adopted these products without much difficulty.”
Staff using the Avid newsroom workflow and related products at Express TV are very comfortable.
GOPAL RAO, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, EXPRESS TV
Express TV broadcasts on SD and uses the DV25 resolution. Most content is shot using file-based cameras from Panasonic, either as MXF or AVI files depending on the camera model. Avid Media Composer | Software is available in the ingest room for handing additional formats, especially those shot in HD. District files are received via FTP in the MPEG format and a Carbon Coder server is used to auto convert these to MXF files.
Both Avid NewsCutter and Media Composer workstations are used for editing news, programs and promos. Avid iNEWS is the NRCS tool for scripting as well as rundown preparation. Avid Interplay handles media asset management and provides a desktop editing application called Interplay | Assist. Express TV also has a cloud-based video editing and text scripting application called Avid MediaCentral | UX (formerly Interplay Central) as part of their set-up. This will be the first of its kind in the south, only after NDTV and Movies Now. iNEWS | Command handles the PCR as well as MCR operations, with the Avid AirSpeed 5000 playout servers providing PCR MCR playback with redundancy. Avid Solutions provides the technology for on-air graphics.
The Avid ISIS | 5500 shared storage enables collaboration by allowing editors to connect concurrently and simultaneously access the same media in real time. This workflow-connected platform tightly integrates with Avid ingest, asset management, editing, and playout systems for a completely optimized end-to-end workflow.
Anwar, the Studio Director at Express TV says, “iNEWS | Command is a user friendly playout controller and is very supportive to our workflow. It gives the panel producer (or director) the power and flexibility to manage and accurately playout media efficiently. We also use the iNEWS | Command for our MCR playout. The Time Of Day column is very helpful in not only scheduling, but also keeping track of playout time for future items in the playlist. Last minute addition and deletion of items too is very straight forward. The Placeholder and Breaks option help segregate the various MCR items for an entire day clearly inside a single playlist making it a very efficient MCR playout Controller.”
iNEWS | Command is a user friendly playout controller and is very supportive to our workflow.
ANWAR, STUDIO DIRECTOR, EXPRESS TV
Fostering tremendous growth
Express TV planned to have the latest in the broadcast workflow as part of their extensive set-up and opted for an end-to-end automated newsroom set-up primarily consisting of Avid, MOG and Avid components.
"In the past some perceived Avid to be an expensive investment, however recent product offerings are very much in line with supporting the growth of regional news channels in India and our overall workflow solutions provide a cost-effective, reliable investment that is quickly realized,” comments RanjitBhatti, Avid Territory Manager. “Avid recognizes that many of our new customers are regional players with budget challenges and we have customized our offerings specially to support their unique requirements."
GopalRao says that a smooth workflow, proven technology and prompt service and support are the reasons for, once again, choosing Avid for the newsroom workflow. ”With the work experience at NTV, I have no hesitation in going for Avid at Express TV also” he says.
Since some media has been shot on HD, there is also an Avid Media Composer workstation in the ingest area to convert and transcode these files to SD. With Background Transcode featured in the new version of the Avid editing products, the ingest operator is free to queue up multiple transcode jobs. Media Composer also allows the ingest operator to rename or relocate any ingested clip metadata if required.
Express TV has an Avid Interplay set-up that facilitates desktop and cloud-based video editing, besides asset management. Five desktop editing clients called Interplay | Assist ensure that the reporters, desk and output editors always have easy access to media, both rushes as well as edited content. Besides allowing clip preview, Interplay | Assist also allows basic timeline editing and also has a playout publishing option. This can be used in a breaking news situation where the sequence need not pass through an editing client again.
The cloud system, Media Composer | Cloud (formerly Interplay Sphere), allows for script as well as media preview and editing, and also supports playout publishing options. It gives a remote user with VPN and login credentials, access to relevant media and script content from any part of the world. A user can also record a voice-over remotely and the VO media is automatically transferred to the central storage allowing the capability of edit and publish from anywhere.
News editors use Avid NewsCutter for cutting their stories. The NRCS tool helps identify and create a blank sequence that fetches the slug name and video ID from iNEWS. All features, otherwise, are similar to the Media Composer. Program and promo editors, who do not need access to the NRCS tool, use the Media Composer for their editing requirements. With almost the entire set of effects in NewsCutter and Media Composer real-time, and with features such as Play While Transfer, the time between a completed edit to on-air is minimal.
PCR and MCR function are handled using the Avid iNEWS | Command and Avid AirSpeed 5000 playout servers. iNEWS | Command helps control multiple playlists simultaneously and with complete server level redundancy. With features such as same channel Loop Playback, Automated time-based Playback, Follow Play, Playlist Export, As Run logs, etc., iNEWS | Command completes the PCR MCR workflow efficiently.
Reliability is key
“The redundancy provided both in iNEWS | Command playout controller as well as the AirSpeed playout server ensure multiple levels of fail safe, something that is very essential in a 24x7 newsroom setup. Whatever the level of failure, the media would continue playing on-air. We have even configured a mirror option, so that every clip in iNEWS | Command plays parallel from two AirSpeed devices ensuring a live backup always. In fact, even if there is a disconnect with the NRCS, the iNEWS | Command can independently control and play the rundown and add new items, until such time that the connection with the NRCS is established,” says a confident Anwar.
The redundancy provided both in iNEWS | Command playout controller as well as the AirSpeed playout server ensure multiple levels of fail safe, something that is very essential in a 24x7 newsroom setup.
ANWAR, STUDIO DIRECTOR, EXPRESS TV
On-air graphics have been implemented with the latest from Avid, Morpho, 3Dplay and Maestro handle all on-air graphic requirements from ticker to logo generation to on-story graphics. Integration with iNEWS ensures that all story-based graphics can be created from the iNEWS application itself by the person scripting the story.
GopalRao makes special mention of the significant contribution Real Image brought to the realization of this project. “The staff at Real Image are well-experienced with Avid newsroom workflow and know very well the requirements of a 24x7 news channel. They have extended full support with proper training and technical services for helping the channel go on-air in a short time.”
With such tight integration and proven workflows from Avid – complemented by other components – it has been an impressive achievement for Express TV to install, train and launch a 24x7 news channel in such a short space of time.