When the Mexican chain Televisa began to migrate their systems from SD to HD, he did parallel to a tapeless workflow, both in their control room as for the production of news, sports and programming of series and soap operas.

By: Harmonic

Behind the flat facade of a building located on Avenida Chapultepec Mexico City control room transmission Televisa, on a high floor, you are behind a window of 50 feet. The place has an air reminiscent of the main bridge of the Starship Enterprise, with all its automatic sliding doors income. However, the emphasis in the future that permeates the atmosphere is not a mere decoration. It forms the basis of a very careful planning process, in which nothing is left to chance.

So when engineers Televisa decided that the end of the lifecycle of all video servers SD that were installed for domestic transmissions approached, also they took the decision that the servers that replace should not only provide additional capacity they needed, but also processing both SD and HD signals a new workflow that dispense with the videotapes.

A shortlisted suppliers were invited to propose their products were required more than document the specifications or make a brief demonstration. The four were asked to successively installed its equipment in the transmission center Televisa and allow it to be tested for several weeks. Only then Televisa chose the Harmonic Spectrum media server and scalable MediaGrid shared storage system.

The first Spectrum media servers were provided to Televisa by distribution channel AM Harmonic Technology (Amtec). The open architecture of Spectrum server also meet the requirement of Televisa that the system could operate smoothly with the automation system and the system Aveco Asset Management Tedial Media (MAM).

As a transmission control center, which operates four broadcast networks, Televisa facilities have ever-changing needs. Therefore, as soon as they were installed servers, MediaGrid storage functionality for in-place editing, Televisa decided to change its institutional video format MPEG-2 Long-GOP to DVCPRO50.

The transition from MPEG-2 format the DVCPRO50, which took place the following year, was easily implemented by Harmonic, with only a change of license. Reformatting but also implied an increase of the bit rate, meaning that a greater storage capacity would be needed permanently.

"One of the benefits of the system we most value from the beginning of this process was its modularity. When they changed our needs could spend our Spectrum Media Port I / O modules video from one system to another, "said Armando Medina, technical director of operations Televisa network transmission (Channels).

In fact, the management system is so simple that we could perform this procedure ourselves without resorting to any of our support technicians Harmonic or Amtec. This is precisely one of the things we like about this solution: the system is configured in such a way that we can make changes so without difficulty. We also appreciate the fact that we could use different sizes of disks within the same system as our expanded capacity. "

Soon more changes occurred. A year later, Televisa went on to acquire a complete HD system. The DVCPRO-HD 100 became the institutional HD video format. To this was quickly followed by further expansion, when Televisa began working with DNxHD files 145 Mb, which adapted perfectly with Media Port additional modules. Additionally, the following year, Televisa acquired greater capacity MediaGrid.

Over the next three years, Televisa broadcast operations were based on two control rooms, one for SD signals and one for HD signals. That year, the engineering team concluded that could improve the efficiency and quality by unifying both signals. Thus, Televisa acquired a new Spectrum system to accommodate a new workflow with a single HD room where the emission control from the SD signal would be generated by downconversion. This massive transition, made with Spectrum, meant to transfer all the original files from the SD HD servers to new servers, and then use MediaPort with up-conversion function to transmit those files in HD SD.

The following year was carried out another massive installation of Harmonic, following the establishment of a headquarters for the recovery computer disasters, a backup system for Televisa Chapultepec located 15 kilometers of Televisa Santa Fe, a modern complex which also includes three TV studios and post-production facilities.

The automation system Aveco controls the replication between the two systems, that support not only the recovery computer disasters, but also to regular maintenance of transmission operations by allowing any of the channels can be controlled from Santa Fe, while they are able to improve techniques in Chapultepec. PlayTool tools and ProDrive ™ software Harmonic used in combination with backup hardware to provide a level of protection and support to regular automation system.

In parallel with the start of the HD service, Televisa was migrating to a tapeless workflow, not only for its facilities in the control room of Chapultepec, but also for the production of news, sports and programming drama series (soap operas). Now all this is managed through workflow based on files, which have evolved considerably since the beginning of this project.

Thanks to that currently all the editing process is based on files, you can store a single master copy of each program MediaGrid using the MAM Tedial, and most of the material is HD throughout the signal path. One of the most important factors that have influenced this transition has been the use of Active Format Descriptor (AFD, for its acronym in English), programmed and enabled within the Media Port systems as part of the workflow. The use of AFD enables up or down conversion of a single file as needed, which is no longer needed additional storage or SD HD files within the Spectrum servers.

Even with these levels of efficiency, Televisa has doubled the size of its installation Media Grid over the years. It is currently using the HD, equivalent to triple capacity. The system effectively doubled in bandwidth when it doubled its size. At the headquarters of Santa Fe backing the latest version of Media Grid, placing Televisa in its third generation storage system he was used. Meanwhile, each of the four networks has passed to transmit two channels 16 audio channels.

"We transfer a huge amount of files MediaGrid, and that's where our in-place editing is done using Final Cut Pro. They publish directly MediaGrid, then the files are placed in a folder that is operated by the MAM Tedial. MediaGrid is used as a central repository and access point from which you can extract files and then be sent for transcoding when necessary. Together, we 12 Final Cut Pro stations performing editions in situ, and transcoders 25 creating low-resolution proxies, "said Jorge Cosio, technical director of Televisa broadcast center.

The result
The tapeless environment supported by Spectrum Harmonic MediaGrid systems has had a decisive impact on the workflow of Televisa, not only for the control room, but for all those who work in preparing the content of transmissions.

"Before, we had to edit the tapes, a process very difficult," recalls Medina. "Now all this is done in a single file stored on our MAM. Before, we had to operate almost two transmissions, one in SD and one in HD. Now, most of the material is HD and SD signal when we need to, we use Harmonic Media Port for subconvertirla ".

"I would say we have achieved a much higher level of efficiency through the whole process," adds Cosio. "The overall workflow is much faster. We were able to maintain a level much higher quality because we have a file that can be used repeatedly without the quality deteriorating in the process. Now the time required to carry out the process is much less than when we used tapes.

Also operate this way has been more economical because you need to make maintenance less machinery, less human errors occur and has even reduced the amount of labor, so we can do more with fewer workers. Another excellent benefit is that we can use low-resolution proxies to plan the sequence of programs, rather than having to work more cumbersome high-resolution files. And we can do this only once, whereas before you had to do several times. "

Richard St.
Author: Richard St.
Journalist from the University of Antioquia (2010), with experience in technology and economics. Editor of the magazines TVyVideo + Radio and AVI Latin America. Academic Coordinator of TecnoTelevisión & Radio.



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