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Thu 14 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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Al Ikhbariya takes the AVID route

Saudi TV’s Al Ikhbariya news channel enters 2010 with a brand new HD news studio and a multi-million dollar Avid installation. Vijaya Cherian reports.

Al Ikhbariya takes the AVID route
Al Ikhbariya takes the AVID route
Sahelly is the assistant of the general director for production and technical affairs at Al Ikhbariya news.
Al Ikhbariya takes the AVID route
Al Ikhbariya has deployed six Avid Airspeed Multi Stream solutions at its facility.
Al Ikhbariya takes the AVID route
At the heart of the Avid solution is its Interplay media management system, which also links the news to Saudi TV’s newly-commissioned archiving project.

Saudi TV’s Al Ikhbariya news channel enters 2010 with a brand new HD news studio and a multi-million dollar Avid installation. Vijaya Cherian reports.

Saudi TV’s Al Ikhbariya news channel recently completed a multi-million dollar installation that included putting together a brand new six-camera HD news studio as well as undertaking a turnkey Avid installation to streamline its newsroom operations. Systems integration for the project was undertaken by Saudi SI, First Gulf Company.

“What we have today at Al Ikhbariya is state-of-the-art and easily rivals some of the best newsrooms in the Middle East,” claims Abdalrahman Mohammed Sahelly, assistant of general director for production and technical affairs, Al Ikhbariya news channel.

With the addition of the new six-camera studio, which was designed by FGC in conjunction with a German company, Al Ikhbariya now has a total of three studios that support HD and are linked together.

The new studio is equipped with Hitachi 720p cameras, the Studer Vista audio console and a seamless back projection solution from Christie that allows the channel to use it as a single screen or multiple screen based on its needs. The studio is equipped with six cameras on the floor and a seventh is fitted on a crane. It boasts two sets including one for news and the other for business.

Interestingly, the newsroom is located within the new news studio at the back of the presenter and includes 36 LCDs for monitoring content from different sources.

At the newsroom, Al Ikhbariya now has the latest version (v2.8) of the Avid iNews system and will be able to upgrade free-of-charge to the next version that will be released soon. The project includes the installation of several additional solutions from the manufacturer that help provide an efficient, tapeless workflow while also placing greater content and editing control in the hands of the channel’s journalists.

“We have acquired around 60 licences for Avid iNews, of which about 35 to 40 are used by journalists and the rest are used by producers, the management and so on. We primarily required a system that would allow all the content to be recorded onto the server so that the journalists or editors could then edit everything straight from the server. This solution allows us to do that effortlessly and enables the journalist to operate independently,” explains Sahelly.

A significant element of this project is the Avid ISIS, which presently has a capacity of 64 terabytes for centralised storage and can be expanded in the future.

The ISIS is a turnkey solution that connects all the different solutions including the iNews and the graphics.

Besides this, Al Ikhbariya has installed four Avid Newscutters in addition to the four it had. It has also installed six of Avid’s new Airspeed Multi Stream solutions at the channel.

Four of these Avid Airspeed Multi Streams ingest directly to the ISIS centralised storage system while two more Airspeed Multi Stream solutions have been included in two of Al Ikhbariya’s studios for playout.Together, the four Airspeed Multi Streams currently offer eight ingest channels for SD signals. However, when Al Ikhbariya switches entirely to HD, the Airspeed Multi Stream will be able to support double the number of ingest channels, claims Mounzer Bechara, sales manager for Avid Middle East.

“When you switch to HD, the same Airspeed Multi Stream offers the end user double the number of ingest channels. This is unique to Avid. With other manufacturers, when you switch to HD, the number of ingest channels supported by their systems will be cut by half,” Bechara says.

The workflow at al Ikhbariya begins with all the content, whether news feeds, agency material or data from other sources being ingested directly to the ISIS. Once the material is ingested, it is ready for all the clients including the Media Composer, News Cutter and Instinct to edit.

Al Ikhbariya news channel has acquired 20 licences for Avid Instinct as part of the new project.

“The Avid Instinct will allow the journalists at Al Ikhbariya to edit the stories, record the voice over etc. and make it ready to go on air,” explains Sahelly.

“The Instinct, in turn, communicates with the iNews and the ISIS.”

Once the editing is completed, any authorised person at the channel can send the material to playout from any of the desktops in the newsroom.

“One command will control the server, the graphics as well as the teleprompter,” explains Avid’s Bechara.

At the heart of the Avid workflow is the manufacturer’s Interplay media management system, on which all the other solutions run. Interestingly, this media management system also allows Saudi TV to link its news to its newly-commissioned archiving project.

The news channel is now undertaking another key multi-million dollar installation with Vizrt. The graphics solution will be integrated with Avid.

“This will allow the journalists to sit at their desktops and edit their videos as well as make their own CGs and graphics,” explains Sahelly.

More than 40 journalists and producers are presently being trained to use the Avid system at Saudi TV.

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