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Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority recently upgraded its news studio and news centre to a full HD file-based 3G infrastructure. BroadcastPro ME brings you the details

Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA), which operates the state’s media outlets including the radio, TV and news agencies in the kingdom, recently upgraded Bahrain TV’s news channel and news studio. The revamped news studio now boasts a state-of-the-art 3G/HD/SD infrastructure at the broadcaster’s headquarters in Manama.

INC System Integrations, a Dubai-based SI, was awarded the turnkey project, which entailed the commission, supply, delivery and installation of equipment, as well as training IAA personnel.

The project involved one site with five technical rooms: the studio gallery, studio rack room, Avid newsroom, Avid systems rack room, and an NLE and graphics room.

Eng. Abdulla Al Balooshi, General Director of Technical and Technology Affairs at IAA, explains that the key deployments are a 3G/HD studio with an Avid newsroom and a Vizrt graphics system.

“Our key requirements were to deploy the latest production technologies available, while continuing to broadcast throughout.

“We wanted to upgrade the legacy system to HD and to make our workflow more efficient. We now have remote web-based ingest and editing to improve the quality of production. We also needed to minimise downtime and remain on air during the transition,” he says.

While the studio was completely revamped, the newsroom was an extension of the previous facility and was supplemented with additional equipment.

“We now have a sophisticated end-to-end tapeless HD workflow that is easy to use and provides the remote access we need. With built-in redundancy, we have the peace of mind that we can operate a quick news turnaround and offer a high-quality production, without worrying about on-air delays or system failures,” adds Al Balooshi.

Avid Everywhere is the backbone of the new HD workflow in the newsroom. IAA installed an Interplay PAM with MediaCentral, with upgraded solutions from Avid Media, Avid Artist and Avid storage suites. MediaCentral | UX provides the remote working required, with real-time access to production assets, metadata and iNEWS stories.

Adeeb Abed, General Manager, INC System Integrations, says that his company undertook the project to provide the end user with a turnkey solution. INC has extensive experience in working on similar projects across the GCC.

“It’s a prestigious project for us and we had absolutely no room for error. The project was meticulously planned and implemented in phases. The newsroom is operational now and fully functional,” says Abed.

The upgraded Avid Media Central in the newsroom computer system (NRCS) makes it easy for journalists to work on various resources, such as news from video feeds and wires, along with craft edited files and voiceovers, on a single GUI (graphical user interface).

The channel has various sources of gathering news in different formats from agencies. The news feeds are transcoded to the in-house format via the Telestream Vantage application and sent to the Avid centralised storage, which is then available to the journalists and editors that are meant to access it. All the files are in HDCAM 50 format.

Amro Elbouhy, Territory Account Manager at Avid, says the broadcaster has embraced Avid Everywhere as the foundation of its HD workflow.

“We have built a solid relationship with IAA over the years, and they have put their trust in us to provide a reliable yet streamlined HD news workflow that has future proofed its workflow.”

He explains that the ISIS 7000 shared storage solution delivers SD, HD and 4K performance and collaboration capabilities. The AirSpeed multistream multichannel video server accelerates media workflows. Editing is handled by Media Composer | Software with a Media Composer | NewsCutter Option. iNEWS and iNEWS Command give total control over every aspect of news content creation, automation and playout. After the final edit, files are ingested into the playout server to go on air.

The project includes archiving, which is being done by Masstech. Masstech for News allows journalists at Bahrain TV to automatically archive, access, share and use archived content directly from within Avid iNEWS newsroom.

Featuring Video-Follows-Text, Masstech for News enables stories and media to be moved between users, systems and sites with a single drag-and-drop action, arriving automatically in the correct format. All elements of a story, including video, text and metadata, are transferred seamlessly as a single package between locations, production servers, archives and even different newsroom systems. The solution works directly within Avid iNEWS, eliminating the need to learn new interfaces, thereby saving time in training.

Abed points out that archiving was a challenging part of the project, because IAA uses different editing applications, including Avid Media Composer and Grass Valley Edius (as standalone machines). After the final editing and playback on air, the files need to be shifted to the archives. As Media Composer and Edius work on different file formats, the files need to be transcoded to the required format to be available on both systems.

“Telestream Vantage provides the answer to this by offering a flexible configuration and integration solution. With the help of Vantage, different rules can be created in the configuration that automatically transcodes the files to the desired format,” explains Abed.

It took around six months to deliver the project involving the newsroom solutions and graphics. Al Balooshi says that while the Avid and Vizrt news systems are already live, the redesigned and redecorated studio will go live at the end of December 2015.

“The project is almost complete with all concerned obligations. The equipment has already been set up, configured and is being used for daily workflow operations. The respective training for all products has also been completed, and the staff is now familiar with the latest upgraded design workflows.

“The upgrade to Avid Central and Vizrt, along with news vendor products for the studio gallery, are complete. These went smoothly for the acceptance test as well. The in-house graphics department, however, needs more training and practice for designing, especially with the video wall and touchscreen setup for Vizrt products,” he adds.

Bahrain TV has been a Vizrt customer since 2007, when the broadcaster first installed the Viz Newsroom Graphics solution based on the Viz Content Pilot template graphics platform and the Viz Ticker3D, a real-time 3D ticker solution.

The current project has several dimensions, explains RV Krishnan, Regional Manager at Vizrt Middle East. It entailed adding a new news studio with a complete set of graphics, upgrading to HD across the entire Viz graphics platform and upgrading the workflow with the latest version of Viz World Maps Graphics system.

“One of the significant workflow enhancements achieved in this project was implementing the real-time World Maps solution, which is crucial for a news channel. Now, journalists have full access and control to a wide variety of maps, including satellite imagery, right from their desktops, making it faster to generate maps on the fly – so essential in the case of breaking news.”

The video wall solution allows journalists to manage video wall contents in tandem with the storyline, to ensure consistency and relevance for effective storytelling. The project rounds off with extensive training for designers, engineers and operators on the design and use of the system.

“The Vizrt solutions are modular and scalable, which allowed the upgrades to be performed with ease without disrupting existing on-air operations. We are proud to have IAA as one of our premier customers in the region. This project will enhance the workflow in the broadcast facility and build on the current infrastructure to easily and efficiently migrate to advanced workflows and formats in the future,” says Krishnan.

The road ahead

The news studio has been integrated with a post-production infrastructure to cater to future needs. The facility is equipped to handle a nine-camera setup, using just five for now. There is a fully loaded router for I/O that can handle any future expansion requirements to add more equipment or resources.

“From an engineering point of view it was quite difficult, because the project has various components which need to integrate with each other. The Avid NRCS, Vizrt and Telestream had to be based on a robust network. Our team comprised network engineers with very good knowledge of broadcast IT applications and workflows, including thorough knowledge of all the products involved, right from Miranda (Grass Valley), Snell, Studer, Trilogy, Sony cameras and so on. We got excellent support from the IAA engineering team as well as from the support team of each of the vendors,” says Abed.

The switch to the new studio was smooth. A standby studio was built to carry out the programming while the project was underway. The switch to the new facility was made overnight, without interrupting channel operations. The IAA now plans to upgrade the radio sector and prepare new sets for all of its seven studios, to be used for different programmes.