Australia’s Nine Network Installs AmberFin iCR Systems
AmberFin, a developer of file-based media ingest, transcoding, and quality control solutions for content owners, broadcasters, sports organizations, and postproduction houses, announced that one of Australia’s top-rated commercial television networks, Nine Network, has installed AmberFin iCR systems for video file transcoding and audio and subtitle processing at its new National Playout Centre (NPC) in Sydney.
Nine Network’s NPC is a highly efficient, file-based, modern HD broadcast facility. It simplifies operations by centralizing all playout for Channel Nine’s 18 channels across Australia, using a single high-definition file format (XDCAM-HD 50Mbit/s HD).
“Our decision to standardize on a single HD format for all playout presented a number of challenges, since commercials and other promotional content are often delivered to us in a variety of standard definition file formats. Moreover, subtitles provided in the original content, which have to be kept and transmitted to air, are also often stored in these standard definition video files, using a variety of different methods,” said Murray Robinson, engineering manager – NPC at Channel Nine.
Following a thorough evaluation of possible solutions, Nine Network chose to work with AmberFin and its local distributor Quinto Communications. Using AmberFin’s iCR they developed a solution that provides Nine with the highest possible quality file-to-file SD to HD conversion while retaining all subtitles present in the original files.
iCR is used to extract the subtitles carried in a variety of formats from source files, and then re-insert the subtitles into the XDCAM-HD created media, in accordance to SMPTE’s ST 436 specification for closed captions within MXF files.
“With each input file, iCR automatically performs the appropriate transcode to produce an MXF OP1a wrapped XDCAM-HD file with subtitles retained, and with Nine’s required 8 channels of audio in the file,” explains Bruce Devlin, AmberFin’s CTO. “We had a vision when we wrote the ST 436 specification that we could build caption and subtitle workflows that were independent of compression codecs – it’s great to see that dream becoming a reality with forward thinking customers like Nine.”
To meet Nine’s audio output specifications iCR remaps the audio tracks as part of the file transcoding process to cater for both stereo audio and Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
“We typically process in excess of 1000 commercials files and between 600 and 1000 promotional video clips per week, explains Murray at Network Nine. So it was important that we developed a robust automated system with high throughput. iCR allowed to create an automated workflow based on watch folders for incoming content. New video clips arriving in these watch folders automatically have the desired transcoding process applied. Finished HD files are then moved from a ‘work in progress’ folder to the next stage in the workflow and ultimately onto the on-air playout video servers,” adds Murray,