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Tue 1 Jun 2004 04:00 AM

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It's state of the ART

Arab Radio & Television recently undertook a major automation and archival project to centralise its operations at its facility in Jordan Media City. Digital Studio takes a look at the installation.

I|~|art1.jpg|~|VelocityQ, which comes with a user-friendly graphic user interface (GUI), enables ART editors to have real-time simultaneous playback of four video streams and up to six graphics streams. |~|Pay TV operator, Arab Radio & Television (ART) recently undertook a major project to partially migrate and upgrade its facilities based in Italy to a central location in Jordan Media City. The first phase of the ART project, which included the installation of new severs and a new archive system, was completed in February 2004. The second phase is scheduled for completion next month.

The first phase of the project called for a change to ART’s server-based operations and urged for the transfer of existing archive material held on Beta SP and Digital Betacam formats to a Sony Petasite on SAIT data format. “This transfer has prepared ART for the launch of a server-based multi-channel transmission service, serving a worldwide Arab audience and providing a mixture of general entertainment, sport, religion and educational output to a growing market,” says Dr. Fares Lubbadeh, technical director of ART.

The move to a server-based system of operation allowed ART to examine the range of non-linear editing (NLE) equipment on the broadcast market and choose an edit system that was best suited its needs. It chose a turnkey system for Leitch’s VelocityQ systems, preferring to have the editors delivered and commissioned as full systems rather than take the option of purchasing the board set and specifying their own PCs.

Shipped with an onboard dedicated SCSI interface and network storage support, and combined with an intuitive and easy to use GUI, the platform allows ART editors to have real-time simultaneous playback of four video streams and up to six graphics streams. EDL import is standard, and onboard protocols allow full RS-4:2:2 and IEEE 1394 fire wire control. The standard package includes over 200 plus customisable real-time 2D transitions controlled from multiple timelines.

||**||II|~||~||~|Full 3D DVE effects are possible across the four video streams in real time with the addition of the Q3DX4 module. VelocityQ provides ART with all it needs to produce the promotional material needed in the multi-channel age to create distinctive multi-layered output in near real time.

The platform offers real-time support of web streaming video formats, as well as the ability to combine real-time keying and titling-features.

ART has production centres in Italy, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi and Dubai and has located a combination of VelocityQ and NewsFlash edit systems at each of these sites to post produce material originating in these countries. The resultant product is then sent via FTP to the core installation in Jordan.

The VelocityQ and NewsFlash range of non-linear editors enable complex DVE transitions to be achieved simultaneously across all video streams in real time without costly rendering.

The timeline interface functions on a simple drag and drop principle and easy visual reference of each content stream is available using the Eyecon view, a feature that shows visual confirmation of the content of each timeline track. The editing timeline features selectable A/X/B and single-track timeline modes, real-time support for video files with alpha channel, independent variable track scaling, mute and solo of video and audio tracks, multiple timeline support and more.

Captured clips and other media are easily organised into one or more customisable galleries. Media can be played, sorted, searched and managed within the galleries, while mouse controls, user-definable hotkeys, and an optional jog/shuttle controller allow the editor to define their preferred style of editing.

||**||III|~||~||~|Capitalising on the worldwide popularity of soccer, ART has exclusive rights to show the Arab Champions League. This tournament, similar to the European Champions League, is delivering an increasing audience share from Arabs, who are keen to see their club and national teams share fame on the world stage. The NewsFlash editors, with their ability to provide simple editing within a powerful package, really come into their own on this project. They provide instant access to all source material, even while it is being ingested, allow instant playback of finished stories to air from shared storage and have the ability to edit material while still recording. Single centralised storage can support over 100 channels in a single system. Taking feeds from Real Madrid and Manchester United’s own channels as well as its own output helps ART achieve its objective of being at the forefront of sports broadcast.

With phase one now complete and already ingesting thousands of hours of material to the Petasite using three Flexicarts and eight ingest channels all under the control of Pebble Beach automation, the stage two phase of the installation is under way and nearing completion. This final phase of the project will see at least 16 locally generated channels as well as nearly 40 pass-through channels being handled by the new complex with a completion date of July 2004. “With this installation, we will have in place a state-of-the-art facility that will enable us to generate the best entertainment, sport and education in the broadcast world,” states Dr. Lubbadeh.


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