On a limited budget
One goal is to manage assets while sounding great
By Karen Anderson Prikios -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/24/2002 7:00:00 PM
|·||Digital asset management|
|·||Nonlinear editing equipment|
With the construction of a major new facility complete, the Denver-based Starz Encore Group will be going to NAB this year with a limited budget and a short shopping list, allowing for leisurely exploration of new technologies.
"We spent an awful amount of money this year just getting our systems and our facility in order," Vice President of Production and Operations Ray Milius points out.
The network went live from the 300,000-square-foot building on Jan. 21. The facility boasts a Pinnacle MediaStream 40-channel video server controlled by an Omnibus Automation system. "We have no tape playback," Milius says.
All content is stored on a 64-TB Sony PetaSite tape library. "Each tape can hold just a ton of movies," he boasts.
To be more precise, each tape stores the material as MPEG data files and can accommodate approximately 20 feature-length movies. This allows more files be transferred to and from the server at faster-than-real-time speeds.
Though filled with the latest and greatest technology, the facility is missing one piece, Milius admits: an asset-management system. Such a system would take maximum advantage of the tapeless environment and allow producers to get to the content more readily and use the content more efficiently.
Adding a content-management system isn't in the budget for 2002, but he plans to look for advances in that area and hopes to implement a system in 2003. He plans to look at systems from Bulldog, Emotion and Artesia.
"All of them have their strengths," Milius observes. "I don't think there's any one that has the whole solution. Some are more marketing-oriented, and some are more production-oriented. To really get bang for the buck, you have to do it on an enterprise-wide basis; it has to be utilized by all of the different departments in the company."
Looking toward the more immediate future, Starz Encore plans to build two new nonlinear edit suites to add to its tape-based linear lineup of four Avid suites and one Discreet Smoke suite.
Milius is considering adding a fifth Avid Suite and a second Smoke Suite. "We want to see what's out there and see the state of where things are," he says.
Audio is very important to the network, which has been programming in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound since June 1999.
"Digital surround sound is more important to us now that we have three of our channels broadcasting in Dolby Digital 5.1: Starz, Encore and Starz Theater," Milius says.
Five years ago, the network had just one audio suite, which was under-utilized. Today, its two edit suites are constantly booked up, with surround sound being added to interstitial programming as well as to movies.
"Producers have discovered how powerful audio can be," Milius says.
He explains that the growing base of "home-theater surround- sound addicts" also recognize how powerful audio can be to a program. "Once you have it, you don't want to give it up."
Starz Encore's new facility has two audio suites, and the company plans to add a third to meet increased demand for high-end audio production. At the NAB show, Milius will be looking at advances in audio consoles, particularly at DigiDesign's booth.
He will also be interested to see whether Dolby or any other audio company has devised a way to normalize audio across multiple channels. "When you're home watching TV, you'll notice a wide variation of volume," he points out. "As an industry, we need a way to normalize that. Some tools are available, but we need a box that can help us standardize perceived loudness."
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