NAB 2008: Omneon Snags NBC Olympics Deal

Video-Server and Storage Supplier to Provide Video Transport for NBC's Online Coverage of Beijing Games 4/13/2008 10:19:00 AM Eastern

Las Vegas -- Video-server and storage supplier Omneon announced at the 2008 NAB Show here that it won a large deal from NBC to create an Internet-protocol-based transport and storage solution to deliver both high- and low-resolution video from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games back to the United States.

Omneon MediaDeck

The system -- which will use Omneon’s MediaDeck servers, MediaGrid active storage systems and ProCast CDN transport engines -- will be used to support NBC’s extensive broadband coverage on, as well as distribution on video-on-demand and mobile platforms.

"Covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics requires us to capture every moment of every competition at every venue in China," said Dave Mazza, senior vice president of engineering for NBC Olympics, in a statement. "And our audiences now expect the choice to see all of those moments. With this huge increase in new-media requirements, we needed a way to produce all of that content differently than we had ever attempted before. The solution involves a long-distance file-based workflow that the Omneon MediaDecks, the MediaGrids and the new WAN [wide-area network] technology are all a key part of."

The NBC Olympics system was described by Omneon VP of worldwide marketing Geoff Stedman as “a really long-distance file-based work flow” that will let NBC produce content from Beijing remotely using production staff in the United States -- a technique NBC has used for cable coverage in the past and that it is expanding as it seeks to provide more than 3,600 hours of coverage, including broadcast, cable and Web distribution, for this summer’s Games.

NBC will use 20 MediaDeck servers located in China to digitize and ingest both standard-definition and HD feeds, and each MediaDeck will have high-resolution and low-resolution codecs to simultaneously create both full-resolution IMX (high-quality SD) or XDCAM HD files, as well as low-resolution proxy files of all recordings. Both versions of the files are then actively transferred to a large MediaGrid server in Beijing. Then, using Omneon’s ProCast CDN transport technology, the proxies are transferred over 6,000 miles from the MediaGrid in Beijing to a second MediaGrid in the United States, where NBC producers will use BlueOrder's MediaArchive DAM solution to search, browse, view and edit the files.

NBC producers can create edit decision lists (EDLs) using the low-resolution proxy files, and only selected clips of SD and HD high-resolution footage are transported over the network via ProCast CDN to create final packages, thus conserving network bandwidth.

In addition to working with the Blue Order asset management software -- which NBC has used for its last two Olympic Games for digital coverage -- the Omneon system will also interface with Avid editing and storage systems and Mogg Solutions’ metadata-management software.

“It gives them access to all the content in a proxy format, but they’re only moving the files they need,” Stedman said. “It’s a very unique use of proxy technology and of transfer technology, and it’s a very elegant solution.”

For complete coverage of the 2008 NAB Show, click here.