WEDU adds Omneon Spectrum media server

Omneon Video Networks and Vernick Technology, Inc., today announced that WEDU, the most watched PBS station in Florida, has installed a 2 TB Omneon Spectrum media server for ingest and playout of local and national programming on its three channels. The installation is part of a ground-up rebuild of station master control as part of a renovation of its 30-year-old building.

The Spectrum system, installed at WEDU’s Tampa headquarters, consists of four SD playout channels, two HD/SD playout channels, four SD record channels, one HD record channel, an SD prep channel, and an HD prep channel. The system is fully tapeless with ingest either from the satellite feed or local production recorded to the Omneon server. That content is then prepped either as-is in high-resolution or by using low-resolution proxies under the direction of Sundance automation. Programming is then available for playout or for archiving in a Masstech MassStore system. WEDU is broadcasting PBS network content on one HD channel with analog simulcast on one SD channel, and the Florida Knowledge Network for 12 hours per day each on the second SD channel.

The renovation was two years from conception to completion with Tampa-based systems integrator Vernick Technology onsite for a total of 45 days. The new equipment replaces an old, analog system. “I’m pleased to say that we took WEDU’s technology from the late 1970s into the 21st century,” said Alan Vernick, president of Vernick Technology.

“Because we have three distinct program streams that go out to our viewers,” WEDU Chief Engineer Frank Wolynski explained, “the Omneon system and archive are busy 24 hours a day. It has exceeded my expectations, and its flawless execution has allowed staff to concentrate on other things that need their attention.”

WEDU has realized a number of specific benefits including saving time when inserting interstitial material like promos, underwriting announcements, and station IDs. This used to be accomplished by “sneakernet” — an editor exporting a clip to tape, then carrying the tape down the hall and ingesting it either into a standalone server or to a betacart. Now, when an editor is through with the spot, he saves it to the Spectrum system using a QuickTime wrapper on an MPEG file and then drags it to a folder on the network. Thus, a chore that used to take at least 15 minutes is almost instantaneous.

An additional benefit has been that staff throughout WEDU now has access to programming content via proxies. If, for example, someone in underwriting wants to e-mail a clip to a potential donor, it can be done in seconds. Before, depending on workload, it could take several days before someone found the time to physically locate a tape.

The Spectrum media server system is Omneon’s flagship product, designed to meet the unique challenges posed by the broadcast industry. Fast, flexible, and reliable, the Spectrum system supports many different third-party applications for control and transmission, media management, archiving, and collaborative production.

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