Interplay Production and MAM Move YLE to File-based Workflow

Finland's national public service broadcasting company, YLE, operates four national television channels and six radio channels and services. Complemented by 25 regional radio channels, YLE broadcasts approximately 20,000 hours of TV programming every year, of which about 10,000 hours are self-produced.

To manage that staggering amount of media, the company went tapeless, replacing a disparate array of editing systems across its production campuses with a networked platform based on the Avid Interplay Production asset management (PAM) system and Avid ISIS shared-storage systems.

Moving to a Single-Vendor Solution

Responsibility for YLE’s panorama of programs, including drama, documentaries, current affairs, children's and educational, as well as over 2,000 hours of TV news annually, is split across a number of production campuses. With each campus using different editing equipment and a large number of linear, tape-based workflows, YLE wanted to bring the whole enterprise media production into a more manageable environment.

"The day of tapes was fast coming to an end and it was time to make our move into the digital world” explains Timo Salonen, Head of Technology TV at YLE. “So, given the high volume of productions, including many made on a tight weekly schedule, we wanted to maximize process efficiency and productivity while improving the quality of our output.”

After installing common storage and editing equipment at all of its production campuses, YLE was able to bring its many workflows in line, transition from tape-based to file-based production, and ultimately set the stage for the next transition from SD to HD.

YLE now benefits from the smooth integration and rich functionality of a single-vendor solution, powered by Avid and delivered by Tieto Finland Co., a leading service provider to the broadcasting industry. Avid took responsibility for all aspects of the project, including design, installation, workflow consultancy, training, and continued professional services support to both YLE and Tieto.

Building a Successful Partnership

“This partnership has been very successful,” says Harri Maho, head of operational services at Tieto. “Avid has been a very reliable provider, actively supporting us throughout the project, from installation to maintenance.”

YLE took a phased approach, starting with the TV news production campus in 2007, then completing the project with two additional phases throughout 2009-10. This enabled its production campuses to cut the number of workflows across the company from dozens to just a handful by doing away with tapes altogether in favor of the networked Interplay systems.

With assets centrally stored in the Avid system, the entire production process, from ingest to transmission and archive, is not only faster and more efficient, but everyone involved in the editing process has rapid, simultaneous access to all elements of a program.  Multiple users can even edit concurrently, enabling journalists to take greater responsibility for producing their own news output.

“This freed YLE from having to use so many specialist editors," comments Salonen. “Now, our journalists can ingest, preview and pre-edit their own material and take more control over it.”

More effective media management has also had a significant impact on cost. Weekly current affairs programs that used to require six hours of studio time each week now require just two hours with the tapeless workflow facilitated by Avid Interplay.

Meanwhile, the implementation of file-based workflows has enabled YLE to  to move more quickly from and SD to an HD environment.

"The Avid Interplay system is HD ready, so we'll be able to use the same workflows, making the transition much smoother," says Salonen.

Implementing Enterprise-Wide MAM

In parallel with the Avid Interplay production management project, YLE implemented an enterprise-wide media asset management (MAM) system spanning TV, radio and new media productions. Based on Avid Interplay Media Asset Manager, this solution provides a scalable, unified company-wide platform for YLE to store, search, re-use and re-purpose its archive of audiovisual content.

Avid Interplay MAM also stores digital programming that YLE acquires from other broadcasters, like the BBC and HBO, and holds the Finnish subtitles for all non-Finnish programs as well as program subtitles for hearing-impaired viewers (soon to become mandatory in Finland).

Currently, YLE is in the processes of digitizing material dating back to the 1960s. As Salonen explains, “it's much easier to make historical programs, which are very popular at the moment as people are feeling nostalgic for the past.  When we want to add background pictures or old video clips to new programs, we can now retrieve them much more efficiently than when they were stored on tape or disk. We can also publish a digital archive on the Internet for viewing and listening by anyone, anytime.”

Salonen looks forward to an even closer more robust implementation of Avid Interplay MAM in the future. For YLE, this will enable simultaneous searching across both current and historical assets. "Our local Avid team is very proactive,” he enthuses, “always putting forward new ideas and technology developments to help us optimize our programming output.”