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30 TVBEurope Media Asset Management


News and production for Digital Ireland


David Stewart reports on BBC Northern Ireland’s decision to move to a file-based production environment with a centralised digital asset management system


www.tvbeurope.com April 2012


The BBC Northern Ireland installation includes Cinegy Convert for automated transcoding to enable integration with Avid and FCP


BBC NORTHERN Ireland broadcasts two television channels from Broadcasting House, BBC One Northern Ireland and BBC Two Northern Ireland. The Belfast facility produces a total of 11 daily regional news programmes as well as covering any special events in the region. In addition to local


programming focusing solely on a Northern Irish audience, the Belfast facility also features a large production unit that generates content that is broadcast on the BBC's channels across the UK. This includes documentaries, drama and comedy programmes and other original content. In addition to the more traditional TV and radio programmes, BBC Northern Ireland also has an increasing presence on the web.


Managing the need for change The news team at BBC Northern Ireland has a reputation for cutting edge journalism and original programming, however they had been relying on aging technology. The newsroom was working on obsolete equipment past its serviceable lifetime and the old tape-to-tape workflows required more effort and expensive equipment than modern software-based technology requires. Problems and shortcomings in the pre-existing production workflow were becoming increasingly apparent, unsustainable and expensive. The lack of a centralised media archive led to missing tapes and data, delays in digitisation particularly for multi-camera


shoots, problems with multiple tape formats, inconsistencies in logging, as well as media security issues. The inability to browse and


search the archive often led to a duplication of acquisition and research. Production bottlenecks arose frequently, especially as producers and journalists competed for time in a limited number of craft edit suites. Additionally, BBC Northern


Ireland faced delivery requirements that were increasingly multi-media and multi-platform. It also had a growing need to provide news content to bbc.co.uk ahead of, or simultaneously with, its multi- platform television output. Such requirements were difficult to fulfill through the existing linear workflow. Producers found the


production of content for online distribution particularly troublesome and awkward. The broadcaster elected to


resolve its dilemma by transitioning to a file-based production environment with a centralised digital asset management system, based on Cinegy Workflow. Cinegy Workflow is an open platform system consisting of a suite of tools, applications and open APIs encompassing the complete broadcast production chain from ingest through to playout modules.


Principal components installed at BBC Northern Ireland include Cinegy Ingest, for realtime, uncompressed HD- SDI encoding; Cinegy Archive, a server-based, centralised digital asset management


system, and the Cinegy Desktop NLE, deployed on client workstations for managing ingest, logging, browsing, editing and other operations. The BBC Northern Ireland installation also includes Cinegy Convert for automated transcoding to enable integration with Avid and FCP. All Cinegy applications are designed to run on non- proprietary hardware, a key factor in both the cost and speed of the implementation, which was less than six months.


Team-based collaboration With super-users in place to help their colleagues as issues arose and act as a first line of support, the transition flowed better than expected, journalists and editors were


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