| Subcribe via RSS

NAB Perspectives: Aveco’s O’Brien on Streamlining Linear, Online Productions Through Automation

April 21st, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Karen Hogan

Known for automation innovations across news, studio production, master control, and media-asset management, Aveco demonstrated how it can now automate these processes across multiple studios. ASTRA Studio 3 enables networks to not only control multiple studios with a single system but combine studios to serve major events. SVG sat down with Global SVP, Sales, Jim O’Brien to discuss the benefits of such a system, including how users can control an increased number of robotic cameras, streamline asset management, and achieve a smoother on-air look.

First off, what’s new at NAB 2015 for Aveco?
We’re showing our new-generation production automation, ASTRA Studio 3, [which] orchestrates all of the equipment of discrete devices in big studios as well as orchestrates our Redwood Studio News Studio in a Box, which accomplishes high-end productions for smaller studios.

The nature of live sports production is, you have a lot of fast-moving changes, [so] we have integrated camera robotics control, virtual-set control, graphics control, production-switcher control, video-server control, and lighting-systems control — all of the capabilities to make a high-end live production work. We integrate with all of the major newsroom systems in generating rundowns, and, uniquely, we coordinate multiple studios in the same platform, so, when a production runs long in one studio, you can assign the next rundown to a different studio. It takes one click of a button, and everything [is] moved to the other studio. There’s nothing else in the world that has that kind of capability.

We also are the only system in the world that integrates production automation and master-control automation. It’s one and the same system for us. That allows us to do automated cue exchange from the last frame of video: for example, a spot break runs, the next frame of video is always the implementation of the producer’s rundown, which is moving a production-switcher function, controlling DVE, controlling camera robotics, and continuing with the live broadcast. There’s never a blip of black [in] a handoff from master control to production control or the other direction. Makes for a smoother on-air look.

And how about your studio-in-a-box system?
Our Redwood Studio News Studio in a Box is an eight-input production switcher with four video-server channels, 32 layers of real-time graphics, multiple DVEs, audio mixer, audio server, multiviewer, camera-robotics controller, and, most important, our high-end production automation.

We’re doing this major sports complex in Asia for one of the big global media companies. [It’s] seven studios of automation in one system, and five of them are large studios running the best-of-breed in each category: Grass Valley switchers, Shotoku robotics, Viz virtual sets and graphics. Because we can control all of the equipment in the world, it allows people to select the best products in each category throughout the entire broadcast chain.

That is the work of a specialty company: to interface with everybody. It’s one of the key reasons the company has absolutely no interest in being bought by anybody. We’ve had a lot of inquiries, but we feel that there’s a great place in the market for an independent production company that does production automation and master control, and we work well with everybody.

The production automation and studio-in-a-box systems sound like they could apply to a range of different-size productions. Who is your target audience?
Any sports organization that is launching sports channels. Anyone doing live productions. We have a studio-production mode for anybody doing newsmagazine-style, sports-magazine–style productions. We have a special mode that allows somebody to make a mistake [and] you can just yell cut, recue, and then take it from there; press one button, and the live-to-tape or live-to-server production continues, and it will reposition all the graphics, video, virtual-set marks, camera robotics, production-switcher settings, [and] audio-mixer levels. … It’s easy to run. We have a shot box that orchestrates everything, and we control all kinds of other equipment, so, if they already have some equipment, we can utilize that as a part of our production.

What are some of the trends that you’re seeing in sports production, and how does Aveco cater to those trends?
The use of more and more cameras — many of which are very practical to be automated on a basis of presets, along with some live cameras, of course. We’re a real natural to handle lots of the cameras in a live production. The sophistication of live production is well-suited by production-automation capability; not running everything but running that part which is practical: a lot of the camera robotics, much of the live graphics. [We] have EVS or others do the instant replay; we tie in with EVS for quick-turnaround editing. We integrate with Quantel [and] other editing platforms as well.

One of the great trends is the need for multi-MAM ingest. As we bring content in, we autopopulate all of the pieces of the operation, Usually, there’s one MAM for editing: for example, [Avid] Interplay, EVS, and Quantel have their own MAM, and, by having an ingest system that routinely talks to all of these guys and autopopulates their database fields with media and pointers, it makes for a really smooth, high-end, elegant way to work together. And, once you start working that way, you can’t imagine doing it any other way because it’s just so convenient to have everybody all synchronized.

There’s a lot more sports channels happening. We also routinely handle on-air as well as secondary channels for online. We orchestrate studio-in-a-box solutions for live — either on-air or on Web. Sometimes, some of the commercials can’t go online because those commercials have different rights, so you have to do commercial replacement. We handle that very easily, and, in one system, we can control large numbers of channels and manage it, not just for master control integrating production automation.

Finally, many sports channels find it an advantage to localize their content. Let’s say you’re a regional network or a national network, it would really be good to localize content in various cities so you get your local sports scores and the local highlights. You can organize that nationally or locally, and our control system can control the edge-stream splicers or edge SDI in/SDI out or IP in/IP out boxes and accomplish the localization of programming to enhance the value of those sports networks.

Sports is very dynamic. The value of the information is topical for only a small period of time, so those people that localize it [are] going to elevate the brand value of their networks.