The push into digital
Shopping list is similar to last year's, but with a difference
By Karen Anderson Prikios -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/24/2002 7:00:00 PM
|·||Digital asset management|
|·||MPEG Production equipment|
This year, Gordon Castle, senior vice president, strategic digital systems for Atlanta-based CNN, will travel to Las Vegas for the NAB convention with a shopping list quite similar to last year's. In an industry as fast-changing as this one, though, that may not be as simple as it sounds.
"I want to maximize general research time at the show, so we will limit some of the meeting in the technology and companies that we are well-versed in," he says. "It's divide and conquer."
Continuing a major push to digital production, CNN will again focus mainly on content management and manipulation of content over multiple platforms this year. "This continues to be a volatile field where there have been several ownership changes," Castle says.
For example, he points out that, last December, Documentum acquired Bulldog and that Informix, acquired by IBM about a year ago, recently announced that its Ascential Software division is selling off the Media360 line. Ascential's Media360 is credited with helping CNN win a Technical Emmy Award last year.
The network has begun implementing a technical plan designed to make content more accessible across its enterprise by replacing videotape and using compressed digital video to move files.
"We are making content available more efficiently in terms of speed and throughput in implementing digital systems," Castle says. "Unless you use an asset-management system, you can't unlock that value."
Another area where Castle is hoping to find advances since last year is in the area of long-group-of-pictures (long-GOP) editing equipment. Castle says he is hoping to see developments in the long-GOP MPEG format.
Long-GOP MPEG groups 15 frames at a time and, at 15 Mb/s, offers the same quality of production as I-frame only, which handles just one frame at a time at 50 Mb/s. Castle says he'll look at servers, processing equipment and distribution equipment that use the native long-GOP MPEG format. He also will seek MPEG editing equipment that will allow producers to insert bugs and keys in a long-GOP domain.
'This is very much in the developmental stage," he says. "There have been some announcements about developments in editing and production and equipment using long GOP. We'll be anxious to see actual product in that space."
The news network also plans to add large-capacity video and data server systems that take advantage of general computing, such as support for high-speed Ethernet connections for fast transfer of video material.
"There are trends in the computing field which are complementary to broadcast specialized equipment," Castle says.
He also will be looking for IP-based transmission and contribution equipment that would enable the network to merge real-time video with general IP traffic.
"Because we continue to see more broadcast with IT technology," Castle adds, "we'll be looking for new vendors that will be at NAB and for existing vendors that will directly support standard IT-based networks."
In terms of field production, CNN has implemented laptop-based editing systems using DV-based compression.
"We'll be looking for advancements in Apple, Avid and Pinnacle that allow nonlinear editing in the field and movement toward MPEG nonlinear production," Castle says.
CNN is also planning to investigate optical-disk-based production technology, which is part of an evolution away from tape. Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi have begun developing such products, and Castle is interested to see what they will be offering this year.
"Optical disk appears to provide bandwidth and the storage capacity and data rates to supply high-quality video," he says. "We think this technology will find its way into higher-end equipment as well."
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