After working with broadcast veterans for its launch, Al Kass & Al Dawri sports channel has now engaged the services of a newcomer and undertaken an installation that is uncommon in the Middle East. Digital Studio looks at the reasons behind this decision.
Qatar sports channel, Al Kass & Al Dawri recently went against the norm in the Middle East by favouring an Apple solution over an Avid system with the implementation of a Broadcast Video Server Solution (BVS) at its facility.
Supplied and integrated by Qatar-based firm, Techno Q, a relative newcomer in the broadcast field, with the assistance of BugTV and Apple, the open protocol system includes a playout and editing system as well as a comprehensive storage solution that can be upgraded and expanded as the channel's requirements increase.
"They never had a fully established playout server with editing facilities. This new solution will help do that," says Ziad Al Jaidah, Techno Q's executive director.
The broadcast video server lies at the heart of the sports channel's systems. It integrates the editing functions at the channel that are based on Final Cut Pro while also being fully compatible with the existing PC systems at Al Kass.
A Storage Area Network (SAN) is integrated with this system and is based on Apple's Xserve solution.
Apart from the Xserve, the channel has also invested in BugTV, a Canadian solution that controls the playout functionality, and is used by several TV stations in North America.
14 X servers have been configured at the Qatari sports channel with each having eight inputs and six outputs.
Each PC runs on the Apple server and each reporter's desktop is also loaded with an editing solution called CATDV, which is similar to FCP.
"The reporter can pull out the material he requires, edit it and play it out with CATDV," says Al Jaidah. "It is an open system and easy to use. Likewise, the server is Apple-based. Although Al Kass has several PCs at its facility, the solution we have provided is based on the Mac OS because this is more stable and does not require to be formatted all the time. It works well without constant maintenance intervention."
Al Jaidah adds that the competitive aspects of this solution are "the simplicity of the design, the long-term stability provided by the Mac UNIX OS, the redundancy and fault tolerant application, the flexibility of replacement of the components and peripherals."
Techno Q, which is well known in Qatar for its audio-visual integration projects, is expanding into the broadcast business with this project, according to the executive director.
"We are now officially entering the broadcast market and we are doing it with a state of the art project. With this, we confirm our vocation as a systems integrator, being able to select and gather the best solutions around the world and integrate them for our clients."
The Qatari company admits that the solutions it has chosen for its client are relatively different from the conventional mix of solutions but justifies them as being more competitively priced and offering more flexibility than those provided by competitors.
The solution at the sports channel also includes Apple's V track RAID storage system. "We have given them three Disc RAIDs that have a total capacity of eight terabytes. More importantly, the price for expanding is quite competitive. You can buy the hard discs from the local market from a third party and this of course, makes it at least five times cheaper. For some of the competing products in the market, you can buy a replacement or additional systems only directly from the supplier. This limits your flexibility. Apple solutions are competitively priced and easily available in the local market should our client require more such systems or even want to replace an old or faulty product. Likewise, our company is able to provide any local support that is required."
The project was completed earlier this year and has been running successfully for three months, claims Al Jaidah. "We did the design and implementation. We have also provided adequate training and support."