When you operate multiple production facilities, a main office, and more than 48 regional news bureaus nationwide, collaborating, sharing files, and airing and publishing stories quickly is quite a challenge. Not only are you likely managing an extraordinarily complex workflow, but also experiencing high costs for building out and maintaining your post-production infrastructure.
This scenario is an apt description for Sveriges Television (SVT), Sweden’s national public television broadcaster. Based in Stockholm, SVT operates four national digital channels that feature a variety of programming, including news, sports, entertainment, children’s shows, and art and culture. The network produces about 2,000 hours of original programming annually in HD.
Over the past several years SVT has steadily moved toward a centralized, virtual news and production platform to foster workflow efficiency, save money, and enhance collaboration among team members, no matter where they’re located. A long-time user of Avid video and audio solutions, SVT once again turned to Avid to help it enable remote working and content sharing across its diverse mix of workflows, ensure content security and reliability, and gain the ability to ingest material once rather than multiple times for access by the wider organization.
“Avid offers the security and stability that we need. We're pretty much producing 24/7, 365 days a year and we can't afford a system to be down more than basically a couple of minutes—and sometimes not even that,” says Olof Appelqvist, SVT head of post production.
SVT now possesses an end-to-end newsroom production solution based on the Avid MediaCentral workflow management platform. Systems, files, projects, and media can be shared across the entire network. Through MediaCentral | Cloud UX software, team members can access content over the internet with very low latency, eliminating reliance on cabling and physical infrastructure. Journalists, producers, editors, directors, and others can collaborate from any location, contributing, logging, editing, and approving content in the field, at home, or in an SVT facility. Because fewer files need to be moved from facility to facility and workstation to workstation, the amount of time needed to get stories to air and onto social media platforms is dramatically reduced.
“To have access and control over all our media is critical when you're working with so many users spread around the world,” explains Anders Vallin, SVT product owner. “We need very tight control of who can access what, and MediaCentral gives us that ability.”
The financial benefit is significant too. Because the company can quickly scale operations up or down depending upon workload, it spends only on the resources it needs at any given time. “We’re now working in ways we couldn't even think about two years ago,” Vallin says.
Discovering new opportunities through remote access
SVT took a measured approach during its transition to the new infrastructure, adding a limited number of virtualized Avid Media Composer workstations to enable remote access by its craft editors. Driven initially by the necessities of the COVID pandemic, remote working is now embedded in its approach. Once its remote systems were up and running, SVT leaders began realizing other benefits from them. For example, in the past, media had to be copied through a VPN tunnel or to an actual drive to enable access by multiple team members. Today, it’s available for editing and approving instantly through the cloud.
“Before, we needed people to actually move hardware around and pull new cables,” Vallin says. “Now you can have an edit session in our private cloud. We're not moving media, we're moving interfaces, and you can work from anywhere on advanced sequences because the computer is so powerful. We can actually work differently and more economically.”
SVT editors and journalists rapidly adapted to this new way of working. One of SVT’s night-shift editors is based in Australia but covers Sweden’s national news. He now produces short pieces overnight by accessing content and adding voiceovers via MediaCentral | Cloud UX, then uses a virtualized Media Composer to edit. Using time zones to his advantage, his finished stories are broadcast within hours on SVT’s morning news shows.
“Editors can bring work home and it doesn't matter because the environment they log into is exactly the same as on their computer at work,” Appelqvist says. “They don't have the big monitors or speakers, but they can reach all the needed content. It's very fast.”
Easier third-party provider collaboration
Working with third-party providers is a creative freedom SVT grants its editors, and the organization’s open systems ease interoperability across platforms. Previously, editors had to duplicate and export media so that it could then be imported into a different platform, a process that was inefficient, fraught with security concerns, and open to error. “The new system really is a game-changer for us, because for the first time in many years we feel that we're gaining control over those workflows that have been outside, especially when it comes to cloud platforms for sharing or publishing media,” Vallin explains.
Another result of the new workflows is that SVT can produce more content to meet the growing demand across delivery platforms, an industry-wide trend that was a challenge before the upgrade. Not only is SVT able to increase the number of titles, but also the number of minutes it produces annually. “Shows have doubled from eight episodes to 16, and we now have an efficient production workflow from camera to the edit station, so it's no problem for them to grow,” Appelqvist says. “We put our production systems through really rough times and they always deliver.”
Peace of mind
One of the biggest benefits of SVT’s updated production platform is content security. SVT chose to work in a private rather than a public cloud to maintain integrity over its investigative journalists’ work. “It’s a stable, secure system that can cope with a heavy workload,” Appelqvist comments. “As a public broadcaster, people trust us to deliver accurate information. We cannot risk material leaks.”
SVT’s media storage is secure as well. All editors are directly connected to Avid NEXIS shared media storage through the SVT network, either through Fibre Channel or Ethernet. “We know it will keep our content safe, allowing us to look forward instead of always maintaining and chasing errors and faults,” Vallin says. “We can focus on what really matters, being more efficient and making more content.”
Appelqvist’s team has big plans for how to maximize their new tools. They look forward to using more features, including artificial intelligence (AI) and metadata, within the MediaCentral | Cloud UX platform to turn it into an even more robust news production platform that will touch every corner of the company. “We’ll be able to import more metadata from the beginning, so users can do more data-driven searches instead of general browsing for material, which takes a long time,” Vallin remarks.
AI will also generate faster and more self-service workflows. “We want reporters and editors to be able to do more without asking for help, to manage everything right from their computers,” Appelqvist says. “Our colleagues, our editors and journalists have all adapted amazingly fast to this new workflow and mindset.”
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