Tapeless in Syria

Syrian TV's new newsroom goes to air with VSN.
The newsroom installation at Syrian TV is designed for 40 journalists' desktops.
The newsroom installation at Syrian TV is designed for 40 journalists' desktops.

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Syrian TV recently undertook a major newsroom installation that is scheduled to go on air this month.

The state broadcaster, which was gifted a new newsroom facility by Dubai Media Inc., deployed VSN’s newsroom solution to ensure that it could adopt a tapeless environment for news production.

The newsroom, which was part of a larger project undertaken by Qatar-based systems integrator, Salam Media Cast, amounted to 35% of the value of the project.

“The broadcaster had been planning a tapeless newsroom system for at least the last three years as some of the major decision makers at the station were used to working in similar environments and were aware of their benefits,” explains Fernando Carrasco, operations engineer and branch manager, VSN Middle East FZ-LLC.

“VSN itself was chosen because of its ease of use, compatibility with the Arabic language and seamless integration with the different modules of the newsroom system, namely ingest, playout, graphics system, wires feeds from news agencies and MAM,” he claims.

The newsroom installation covers 40 journalists’ desktops, eight postproduction non linear editing (NLE) suites as well as complete redundant PCR and MCR playouts. Once the basic installation was done, five engineers from VSN undertook the final configuration and also provided training for the system, Carrasco says.

“VSN undertook the training for the newsroom solution in two phases with a gap of two between each course. The idea was to give the operators and managers enough time to assimilate the concepts of a tapeless environment for news production so that they could come up a meaningful list of questions by the second stage of the training,” Carrasco explains.

“Separate training sessions were held for different modules and at least 15 people were trained for some modules although some were trained on all.

“The idea was for these 15 people to then train the end-user as they could speak Arabic and was more familiar with the workflow and the culture in the organisation,” he adds.

One of the major challenges of this installation as with most projects in the Middle East was the tight deadline.

“We had one month to deliver this. For an installation of this size that included integration with a Miranda graphics system, this placed a lot of pressure on us but we delivered. The integration with Miranda Graphics was also resolved via MOS protocol,” explains Carrasco.

“In the meantime, the system was assembled and tested extensively in VSN’s headquarters in Spain. Long hours and extra resources were allocated for this purpose as it’s very important to test everything, especially integration testing, before shipping. Otherwise, small issues at the final destination can spiral into big problems,” Carrasco adds.

VSN added that the installation has kept in mind future upgradeability and scalability.

“It would be very easy to upgrade any of the following including the number of video ingest lines, number of journalists, NLEs, MCR Playouts, PCR playouts, capacity of the online storage, capacity of the near-line storage and so on. This has been possible because VSN is a module-based solution and the present infrastructure of the system is set with ample margins to allow this upgrade,” concludes Carrasco.

A brief look at the newsroom workflow at Syrian TV

  • There are eight simultaneous lines to ingest content. The ingest is done simultaneously in high-res as well as low-res. A wires server captures all the feeds from the news agencies and stores them in the clustered database of the system.
  • The ingested video content is stored in a central storage that is RAID protected and includes redundancy. The central storage can handle a capacity of 1700 hours in DV25.
  • The journalists edit their news stories, having access to the MAM catalogue. They can also edit video in low-res and record the voice-over of the videos. The hi-res consolidation is done automatically in the background in the render farm.
  • The postproduction NLE can edit any clip in high-res whether news stories or promos
  • An archive system manages deep cataloging and storing of contents into an LTO4 robot library.
  • A redundant PCR playout for news programmes plays video clips and controls the teleprompter as well as the graphics system.
  • A redundant MCR playout has been installed for the main transmission system.

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