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Change Is in the Air

The Weather Channel enhances service, streamlines costs 9/26/2004 08:00:00 PM Eastern

The Weather Channel is deploying a new storage and editing system that speeds up news reports. Thanks to video servers from SeaChange and editing systems from Apple, the cable stalwart is moving its editing operations into the nonlinear environment.

The system includes 20 TB (terabytes) of server storage with five channels of ingest, 10 playout channels and eight Apple Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing seats. Editors can access content and quickly compile weather packages for use on-air and at weather.com, where regional reports will become more in-depth.

"It's a whole new workflow," says Ross Kalber, vice president of engineering at The Weather Channel. "It will be a single repository for all our video assets."

Much of what The Weather Channel does is create nearly 100 unique content files that are a couple of minutes in length and available online for local areas, says Kalber. "This content will also be available via our Intellistar system."

Another plus to the SeaChange system is its backup and high level of fault tolerance.

But what has Kalber jazzed is its ability to play content to air from the same server. "It brings the benefits of a shared area network environment to a network-attached storage device," he says. "That's where the cost-effectiveness comes in. We can go with a more traditional IP network and an Internet-based file system."

The Weather Channel is the first user of SeaChange's new MediaClient system. The manufacturer recently unbundled its Media

Library storage from the MediaClient, giving users new flexibility. "In order to make the MediaClient more easily networked and to provide more bandwidth, we unbundled the server and storage from the inputs and outputs," explains SeaChange Director of Broadcast-Systems Marketing Bill Thompson.

One key benefit to this streamlined approach is the financial savings.

The MediaLibrary can be equipped with Gigabit Ethernet inputs and outputs, which are much less expensive than Fibre Channel inputs and outputs. (Fibre Channel can cost as much as $18,000, while Gigabit Ethernet is as low as $800 per channel.)

Thompson says a Broadcast MediaLibrary with nine nodes can handle video at 11 GB per second. "That's not insignificant, and you can't get that in an integrated system," he adds.

The MediaClient hangs on the main storage. In this case, it connects the Final Cut Pro editing systems into the server. "We see this as the emergence of the IT-networked television facility," says Thompson. "We think we're the first player to stake a claim to this and to deliver such a system.

 

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