FEBRUARY 23, 2021

Avid Wins 2020 Emmy for NRCS and AAF Technology

view from behind the camera in news studio

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences recently honored Avid with two Technology & Engineering Emmy® Awards for its contributions to the Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) and Newsroom Computer Systems (NRCS)—two innovations that have reshaped media workflows in the years since their introduction. And while these technology awards are presented every year for innovation in the production, recording, transmission, or reception of television, few people at Avid anticipated these awards would come decades after the innovations were first unveiled.

AAF—Enabling Collaboration with Metadata

Composer and AAF Export window with colors
AAF support is built into Media Composer (above) and other Avid and third-party solutions for easy collaboration.

AAF Export Window
Using AAF Export, editors can quickly package Media Composer sequences for Pro Tools audio sweetening, ADR, Foley, and mixdown.

The story of AAF’s success is one of foresight and dedication. AAF can be thought of like a common language. “In plain English, an AAF file contains the recipe that describes how a film or television show is assembled,” explains Tim Claman, SVP/GM of Video, Post, and Storage Solutions at Avid. “The idea was to create a ‘lingua franca’ for content creation tools, so they enable easy collaboration between creatives.”

A success in that right, the AAF format has been used in a broad variety of content creation workflows for film, television, news, and sports programs and implemented by many media technology vendors, including Avid (in Media Composer, Pro Tools, MediaCentral, and more), Adobe, EVS, Sony, Autodesk, DaVinci, Dalet, and more. Its success stems from fulfilling a need: for creators to have a single, standard metadata file format that allows them to spend less time re-creating work that has already been done, and more time on creative tasks.

But inventions don’t just become the standard overnight. It takes dedication through years of adoption and implementation that continue long after the unveiling. In the years that followed, Avid helped lead the task force to create the industry consortium, contributed intellectual property to the AAF Association with no royalty, led the implementation of the AAF SDK, implemented AAF into all the major Avid product lines, and has since remained a principal member of the AAF association (now AMWA). Avid is being recognized for the industry-shaping success of AAF because, as Claman acknowledges, “Avid played a huge part in conceiving AAF and making it a success in the industry.”

NRCS—The Newsroom's Bridge to the Computer Age

iNews client and Cloud UX
Today, NRCS is integrated into MediaCentral, which can be used within the traditional iNEWS client for news rundown.

MediaCentral on mobile
With NRCS technology in MediaCentral, newsroom operation goes mobile, enabling remote collaboration and workflows.

The Newsroom Computer System (NRCS), on the other hand, is an example of an innovation that rapidly revolutionized its industry. NRCS is the engine and the backbone of the modern news broadcast, and it can largely be credited with bringing the newsroom into the computer age.

“The NRCS is very much the heart of the newsroom ecosystem, so while it started off simply replacing the typewriter and paper, it then expanded to connect to many more other devices and the true impact was shown,” explains Craig Wilson, Product Evangelist—Media and Cloud at Avid.

The NRCS was intended to accelerate getting news stories to air—and replacing the typewriter with a computer was only the start. The scope of NRCS has grown over time to connect more devices and streamline more workflows. Introducing interconnectivity in the newsroom and out in the field, NRCS enabled team members to share information and resources, review each other’s work, collaborate on stories, and communicate in real time—which, as Claman describes, “ultimately transformed groups of disconnected individual journalists into collaborative teams.”

Since 1994, when Avid acquired BASYS, the company that first introduced NRCS, the NRCS toolset has expanded and the workflow integration has broadened. And with today’s viewers and readers consuming news online, on mobile devices, and on TV, so followed the scope of the NRCS.

This initial BASYS solution has evolved into a core component within today’s MediaCentral ecosystem, which includes such capabilities as newscast rundown creation and management, graphics creation, video browsing, clipping, editing, and voiceover recording, while integrating with teleprompters, on-air playout automation systems, digital archives, and more. “NRCS grew over time to become the central backbone of the newsroom—the tool that connects everything together in a shared collaborative workflow,” Claman points out.

Cloud UX screenshot
The latest NRCS implementation as it appears today in the Rundown app (on the left side) in MediaCentral.

The NRCS found longevity because, like any successful tool, it serves a need. To win the ratings war, a journalist has to be first, be correct, be present on all platforms, and be able to work remotely—and the NRCS foundation in MediaCentral checks all four boxes. As a result, Wilson notes, “These technologies have enabled hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of users to work together in ways that would have been unimaginable not that long ago.”

Avid is proud to add these two Emmys to the trophy case, but the true victory is neither a golden trophy, nor the recognition. It’s hearing about how our innovations have helped our customers achieve their own victories and breakthroughs that keep them creating. Our awards are a dedication to their work.

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