Videocraft recently completed one of its biggest systems integration projects to date – a new studio for the Australian Football League (AFL) integrating advanced file-based workflows, virtual sets and editing suites. Videocraft sales director James Taylor explained, “This studio build involved total integration from acquisition and ingest through to editing and playout.”
The tender which was successfully won by Videocraft at the end of 2011 came as part of the AFL’s new rights deal negotiations were taking place giving scope for a forward thinking solution.
Taylor continued, “Essentially we walked into a green field site, something that’s pretty rare at the moment. The AFL wanted the best possible systems solution that included fitting out the studios from scratch.”
AFL Media produces content for the AFL’s website, AFL clubs, corporate partners and a variety of internal departments. According to Taylor, the new studio had to be able to accommodate this high level of demand for content creation and maintain the AFL’s high quality standards.
Taylor added, “We built the TV studio with a full XDCAM HD acquisition workflow (any content that comes in as SD is upconverted) that included XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD 4:2:2 and a new XDSPD1000 professional media station which enables seamless card-based and optical material to be fed into the EVS network. The EVS network itself is the key part of the entire system design as the EVS servers manage all the studio recording and playout making this is a very clever and efficient system.”
Executive Producer of AFL Media, Greg Miles said, “It was critical that we built a facility than could handle not only a high volume of content but be flexible enough to cope with the future demands of the business.”
Despite being one of the largest systems integration projects Videocraft has undertaken it came with one of the tightest timeframes the company has ever had to work with. This was combined with the systems integrator’s trickiest request – a move mid-installation.
Taylor explained, “The AFL needed to move earlier than expected so we managed moving the entire facility that was in operation into the area created for the new studio whilst simultaneously building the new facility. Complex logistically but ultimately successful.”
Videocraft has built its reputation for excellence on this kind of systems integration project and the AFL’s new studio was no exception with the company responsible for everything from over 5km of cabling to building the signal routing at the heart of the system.
Taylor said, “We installed a 128×128 Ross NK3G128 router and used a combination of Ross and Blackmagic open gear distribution and glue which all went into open gear frames for maximum efficiency. Once this was live we had our heartbeat.”
Videocraft integrated the signal distribution throughout the existing facility migrating incoming feeds through the new router, whilst managing the move and integrating the AFL’s existing FCP editing suites into the new facility.
Taylor added, “It was a carefully planned installation done in precise stages. Building the studio and EVS network came first. Once these went online we moved to the next stage. Using 6-channel EVS XS and 8-channel EVS XT3 servers for ingest and logging was the biggest change to the AFL’s existing workflow. We also installed an ECS IP Director to control all the ingest, logging and playout which meant that the AFL had completely migrated from a bespoke logging system to EVS. This represented a significant, forward thinking and future proof move of their data feeds and metadata that now meant they were all scalable and integrated. The final piece in the EVS puzzle was the use of the EVS Clean Edit System which allows the sharing of media by users across the EVS network using EVS XStore NAS, enabling fast turnaround highlights editing.”
The new studio facility designed and built by Videocraft also integrated a Ross Carbonite 2ME vision switcher with in-built multi-viewers, new Sony HXCD70 studio cameras, Sony PVM1741 OLED monitors, RTS comms with Chromus matrix and KP32 and MKP12 keypanels and Ross XPression for on-air graphics and the virtual studio.
James Taylor concluded, “We are particularly proud of this studio build. It was a lot of hard work but the result has been excellent and the client is delighted. We were lucky to be able to work with such a great, forward thinking client as the AFL to build a world-class facility that will truly stand the test of time due to its level of scalability. That said Videocraft, with our key partners, is continuing to further develop the system and workflows for the AFL to make them even more efficient as requests for their media content continue to grow.”