by August 3, 2004 0 comments

News is all about speed and accuracy. Start talking about electronic media, and speed starts taking a different meaning altogether. With channels claiming to be sabse tez and others sabse aage, they need to have their processes streamlined.
The news collection and dissemination process has three parts: news gathering, processing and delivery. While reporters and camera-men gather news, editors and at times reporters edit it and then the news is packaged and delivered through the satellite. All this requires flawless planning and robust IT support.

News is gathered and captured using either DV cameras or beta tapes, though the usage of beta tapes is reducing. The convenience of using DV cameras is that they can capture, digitize and give high quality output. So the reporter can directly transfer the captured news to a graphics workstation and edit it using non-linear editing software such as Adobe Premiere and Incite Editor. Once edited, the video can be transferred back to the central studio using high bandwidth links. 

In addition to this, reports can be filed from remote areas using varied sources. Reporters can remotely log in to the news channel’s servers, using secure Web access through dial-up or even by wireless connections such as Reliance Gtran cards. 

Once the edited news is submitted, it has to be processed and packaged. Both the data and video are processed using video servers, newsroom systems, real-time 3D graphics systems, tickers and more. Some commercial video servers that are used include Green Valley’s Profile XP Media Manager and Axis 2400+. These servers offer specialized video storage, retrieval and archival systems. They’re connected over high-speed links, and connect to various external high capacity storage mediums, which could even be a SAN.

Newsroom systems, such as ENPS, iNEWS, Octopus, OpenMedia and Dalet+, are the epicenter of any news production house. They provide means and ways to integrate the whole workflow process. These systems are used by teleprompters, journalists, directors and newsreaders alike. For example, the journalist can open any story at any point of time, edit the video and text that goes on air and save it back on shared storage. 

Lastly, there are graphics generators, such as Vizrt, which are heavy-duty machines rendering high-resolution graphics in real-time while taking text inputs from the newsroom systems. These can be template based, where the graphics designer makes a template that is used to display the news.

Finally, the news is delivered using automation systems such as Aveco or the good old A/V consoles. Though both do similar thing, Aveco reduces errors and has a smaller learning curve. In a hardware console, the operator needs to press proper key combinations for co-relating the video and audio feeds. However, with Aveco, it’s a matter of a simple drag and drop. 
In addition to all these software, a lot of media houses maintain their own team of software developers to cater to their specific needs. Since media houses work on a diverse set of systems, customizations in collaboration are a must. These needs span from having control over the developed system to retaining a competitive edge. 

By Geetaj Channana

Expert Speak: Rahul Kulshreshtha Director Technical & Operations, TV Today Network

“We are constantly on the look out for new compression technologies for storage and video transfer”

Rahul Kulshreshtha

Earlier, we were able to see the video of an incident, only after the incident had occurred. But, this was not enough, for we wanted to watch the news as it happened. If not immediately, then at least in a short while from when it happens! This was the biggest challenge that the television news industry faced till IT came to its rescue.

Till very recently, television broadcast relied on video technology. This had its limitations, starting from heavy 20 Kg cameras, linear editing on tape and transfer of tape. And live transmission was virtually not possible. 

Today IT forms the backbone of the entire news gathering and editing system. 

The process of putting news on air comprises news gathering through a network of reporters and external agencies, capturing video on to the SAN (Storage Area Network), news processing, 7digitizing the content and scripting through the newsroom system, editing it using non-linear edit systems and finally broadcasting it through video play-out servers, controlled by automation systems.

At our TV station, we have installed newsroom and automation systems for faster flow of information to various departments. Our graphics automation systems have helped us to package Aajtak and Headlines Today in a very effective manner, providing ticker news, financial graphics and graphical analysis of events simultaneously with the video content. Using various automation procedures, we have been able to deliver news to the viewers at a faster pace. 

Besides these areas IT is penetrating into other fields too. Camera technology being one of them. Companies who are making cameras are in the process of developing tape-less cameras where the news gathering will be done on disk-based media, which could be instantly used for editing on the notebooks itself. So the entire TV technology is moving towards computer-based systems.

Being in the news industry and running a 24-hour operation, our biggest concern is that systems downtime should be bare minimum. After-sales service and support are extremely crucial to our operations. Since the digital platform is relatively new in the news broadcast industry in India, the solutions provided by vendors have to be fine tuned to a 24X7X365 requirement.

Another big challenge we face today is good digital archival solutions, which help to store content in digital format for faster searches and retrieval. Also, we are constantly on the look out for new compression technologies for storage and video transfer to meet our objectives. The other segment that needs to be developed is the news-gathering technology, where equipment that is low cost and easily transportable needs to be developed as opposed to the OB Vans and fly away units that are being used currently.

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