In total the BBC has around 300 staff on site, including about 70 journalists
In the middle is an
infrastructure based on that installed at BBC Sport’s headquarters in Salford. Eight EVS XS servers are used for ingest; content storage and playout is on Omneon MediaGrid; and 21 Avid editors sit on an Isis server. 13 editors are used by journalists and producers in the open plan office to create highlights packages, and there are eight craft suites adjacent to it all. Graphics come from eight Vizrt suites.
Harris in harmony The underlying architecture relies heavily on Harris
equipment, including the Selenio platform as well as standard modular frames. With all the signals flying around there is a huge call for multi-viewers, and there are 16 frames each holding six cards of Harris 6800+ quad splits, some of which are cascade for 16 to view. The architecture also uses the newer Harris H View Pro multiviewers that put up to 64 signals on a screen. Some of the H View Pro cards are in standalone frames, others are in the 512 x 1028 Harris Platinum router.
The system has been built by Dega Broadcast Systems. Director John Cleaver has been living the project for the last two years. “The BBC wanted to start back then to ensure the hardware and the installation resource would be available,” he said. “This is their biggest Olympics yet, and they had a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve.”
The system design was very
much a joint effort between BBC and Dega. Resilience was a key feature, with as much redundancy as practical, and detailed design to minimise the effects of a failure. The I/O ports on the router, for example, are carefully chosen to ensure that a main feed and an alternate never pass through the same card. One of the effects of developing the technology over two years is that new techniques come along which were not available at the start of the project. It makes extensive use of the Harris Selenio, the media convergence platform which is capable of handling both IT and realtime video and audio files simultaneously. “It is a slick way of providing
layers of signal processing,” according to Cleaver. The 26 frames at the Olympic IBC are used for a lot of audio processing, including Dolby encoding, AES embedding, synchronising and
shuffling, as well as video tasks like colour correction. Conspicuous by their absence in the installation are VTRs: this is a file-based production, managed by the BBC’s BNCS control system. Of the 200km or
so of cable, a substantial proportion is Cat-5 ethernet. As well as its unique sports
streams and the two national channels the centre also supports the BBC’s national and regional news services who will
TVBEurope 29 The Workflow
want to create their own stories: additional Avid editors are available for them attached to the content network. In total the BBC has around
300 staff on site, including about 70 journalists. They, and the
systems engineers who have designed and built this remarkable facility, have to accept the fact that if all goes well they will be forgotten as we celebrate the successes of our favourite athletes.
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