Game, set and match

Behind the scenes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
A peek at the Editshare workflow, for the technically-minded.
A peek at the Editshare workflow, for the technically-minded.

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Digital Studio joined the crowds at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where we were lucky enough not only to witness Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic claim their respective singles titles, but also to witness a first for the Dubai event when we caught up with the teams from UBMS and Editshare, who were playing a key role in the production for the event’s debut live stream on the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) website.

The team was focusing on events on the flagship Court One, where Kvitiva won her title, and 50 yards away, in the temporary building that was acting as his team’s HQ for the event, Editshare Middle East regional sales manager, David Castle, explains the situation: “We’re right in the heart of the production here,” he said.

“We’re basically the central hub for everything that goes on on Court One. We’re taking all the camera feeds that come in into our Editshare system, asset managing all the media that comes into the system, and then we mix it all together using a switcher system, send it out, in this instance to a company called Perform, who then distribute it over the internet to iPhones, iPads, laptops and everything else for the WTA’s own streaming site.”

He continues: “We have an ingest server, which acts as our recording set up and manages everything. Gone are the days of having four VTRs rolling, there are no VTRs at all, and it’s all asset managed right here.

“This is first time they’ve done this on Court One, so it’s something added to the norm. So far the feedback has been great, and we’re optimistic we’ll be back again.”

The set up on Court One was based around multiple Sony and Grass Valley cameras, all of which were feeding into the Editshare system where the feeds are ingested. The system can take the feed from any camera on the market, says Castle, while it also capable of pushing the ingested content out, almost instantaneously, to all the major editing systems, including Avid, Final Cut and Adobe.

Patrick Shipsey, Editshare’s senior support engineer, adds: “For sport events like this we have a mode called edit while capture. For a two or three hour event such as a tennis match, as the file is being ingested you can edit as you’re going for highlights and so on, there’s no need to wait for the event to finish.

It’s pretty much instant, as soon as you’ve captured the footage you can start editing. For this event we’re pushing the stream back to the UK where the highlights are being edited.”

The multi-camera ingest and near-immediate editing abilities of the system make it ideal for live sports, but that’s not the only area where it’s finding favour.

Castle informs me that major UK soap, ITV’s Emmerdale, also uses Editshare equipment, while its Channel Four rival Hollyoaks has just signed up too: “They use our application called Studio Multicam which allows you to capture several cameras simultaneously in synch.

It then ingests the footage straight to central storage where editors can access it immediately. The biggest thing for a director is to be very fast with turnover, and this system makes his life easier – it’s all about managing the content.”

Education is another area where Editshare has found an eager market in Europe, as Shipsey explains: “The key point I’d make if I had to nail anything is that it’s multiplatform in terms of editing systems.

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One system can work with several platforms and it’s as if each user is working either with an Apple on its own, Adobe on its own or Avid on its own. They can act independently, source their own files independently and so on.

“Take that into education, for example, which is huge for us in the UK, where there may be 200 students working on a project and it’s ideal. Plus, you can teach all the editing systems on the one product as it can interface with all the main ones, you don’t need a separate source for each system.”

While Editshare’s success in the UK and Europe is well-documented, its focus right now is on the Middle East, where it has thus far had only a limited presence. Castle says: “Editshare had a small distributor here, but we’ve now decided to come over and really do it properly.

I know the area well from my time with Sony and Grass Valley in this region. I also knew UBMS from those days, so I knew if we wanted to really build the Editshare name over here they could be a key partner.

We know they understand that support is crucial if we’re going to make a name. We’re really well known elsewhere in the world– nearly every edit suite in Soho has one of our systems – but we’re virtually unheard of over here, so we’re aiming to change that.”

With this in mind, Editshare has already begun an ongoing training programme with UBMS whereby Editshare’s UK engineers are working alongside the UBMS team to train them fully on the systems in order to offer a full back up service to clients in the region.

As Castle notes: “We’ll be offering all training and support in conjunction with UBMS, with all service fully backed by us. Ultimately their engineers will work back to back with ours.
We realised we needed to get their guys trained first, after which the plan is the sales will roll!”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis event, of course, created an ideal opportunity to try and get that rolling underway, and Castle notes that a number of local producers and broadcasters had been down to the event to see Editshare’s systems at work: “We know a lot of premier TV stations elsewhere in the world trust our equipment, but we’ve just arrived in Dubai, so it’s important to get in, do it and show people what we can do.

“The equipment we’re using here is UBMS’ brand new demo system – currently this one and a second one at the UBMS showroom are only ones in the region.

We do have some updates to motherboards planned, and a solid state version ready to launch, but this is a live event so we’re using the tried and tested current model. Six to seven months from now though, we expect to have an even more effective and cost efficient version available, and that update will be made available to existing users too.”

Editshare intends to carry on getting out and about in the region showing what it can do with plans afoot, in conjunction with UBMS, to demonstrate the system’s ability to take multiple feeds from numerous different cameras and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how this relative newcomer to the region’s anticipated journey from obscurity to all-conquering giant of the local industry pans out. In the meantime – anyone for tennis?

Kit list:
- Studio MC (Multi Camera) with FLOW (media asset management) comprising:
- 1x XStream Workflow Director 16TB
- Flow Browse (10 Lic.), Flow Ingest (4 Lic.) and Ark Master Software, 2x 10Gb CX4 Port, APC UPS
- 1x Geevs HDP 4/4
- 4U Server supporting up to 4 Channels of Ingest and 4 Channels of playout. Includes Geevs Client.
- Connected via a Fujitsu XG0224 Switch plus 2x Mac Book Pro laptops running Avid MC.

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