Samaya TV India launches a 24x7 Regional News Channel built by PlayBox Technology

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PlayBox Technology is proud to announce the launch of Samaya 24x7 news channel based in Bangalore, Karnataka. It has not only been a feather in the cap of CMD (Country Managing Director) Rajiv Puri, but another milestone for PlayBox Technology India – providing a cost-effective end-to-end solution for news channels and proving it does supply 100% of Technology at 25% of cost.

Samaya’s design employs a wide mix technologies including CaptureBox for video ingest, Apple Mac Pro for editing and packaging; playout is performed by fully 1+1 redundant AirBoxs in the production control room (PCR) and the master control room (MCR) operations controlled by the News Room Automation of PlayBox’s own NRCS “NewsAir”, and PlayBox MAM solution  for archival storage.

PlayBox Technology India, technical team headed by Abhishek Kaushik keeping in mind the complexity of news business undertook this, time bound launch as a challenge and made it possible for Samaya to go on air on 20th June, 2010. The workflow was modified to suit the ethos of Samaya’s news requirements on which the channel is built.

The workflow was designed to meet Samaya’s requirements. It comprises six CaptureBoxes located in the Ingest Room where feeds arrive from across the state and outside. The CaptureBoxes store the ingested footage directly onto a central METASAN and include Decklink HD Extreme input cards complete with the HD upgrade option, ready for future requirements. Reporters use the Sony, Panasonic and other cameras on location, capturing their footage on DV tapes, P2 or CF cards either in SPDV, MXF or AVI format, depending on the camera. In Ingest Room, this footage is ingested via card readers onto the SAN network via FCP (Final Cut Pro) and the file formats are converted to the native FCP format (.mov). Down link from other channels received by few STBs are also routed to capture box and dumped into SAN. Similarly IRD output from DSNG vans is coupled to capture box for ingest into SAN.

Other ingested sources include news agencies such as APTN, ANI, SNTV, Reuters, etc. Here, live and scheduled events are ingested according to editorial requirements. Once ingested video files in the SAN are named according to Samaya’s own 32-character convention, they are available across the local network (everything is on the same LAN) for use and reuse. Editing is on Apple Final Cut Studio on Mac Pro for programming and iMac systems for news stories. The timeline on FCP uses Samaya’s choice of the DV PAL video format for all final edited packages and playout.

The newsroom workflow starts with users logging on to the NewsAir system for writing scripts and stories with their individual assigned rights. The scripts are then copied, edited and verified along with the video shots, which, once approved by the senior editor, are sent to the bulletin producer for inclusion in the rundown schedules. Samaya’s two PCRs for News and for News and Programmes, include fully redundant HD-capable AirBox playout servers. AirBox was chosen for its functionality, robust architecture and user-friendly GUI for on-air operations as well as its integration with NewsAir. Once the rundown is ready to go on-air the producer approves it for inclusion in the bulletin through the NewsAir NRCS (News Room Control System). The scripts are transferred to the teleprompter and the video clips are attached to their corresponding stories and go to the respective AirBoxes for playout. The AirBox has built in storage of 1TB where the days play list is imported so that the transmission remains independent of the state of SAN. The reliability is further enhanced by deploying multiple AirBoxes in a mirror mode or main/backup configuration.  This guarantees PCR 100% on-air redundancy for playout. In fact the play list is simultaneously loaded on the AIR BOXes of both the PCRs so that redundancy of the PCR itself is achieved. Operationally, the NewsAir list is loaded ready for transmission with a button click.

Amongst the many AirBox features Loop has proved very handy in news where a breaking story is on-air and the available footage needs to be continually repeated during discussions. Again, operation is easy with a mouse click; saving editing time it suits the news workflow.

The handover to the MCR for commercial playout also happens through another 1+1 redundant AirBox server. MCR acts as end control to select the source as PCR I, PCR II or the playlist created on two mirrored AirBoxes in MCR for the final output. Commercials, promos, station logo are inserted here.  Samaya has adopted multiple platforms. News related videos are ingested, edited and stored in PlayBox METASAN whereas current affairs, other programs and promos are ingested into MACPROs. Edited and finished product is stocked in the server comprising XSAN+Promise Vtrak and two XServe as Metadata Primary Controller Main and Secondary Backup set up. AirBox can access either of the servers to import the video files as per play list. The ListBox is used for creating commercial schedules and programmes as per the FCP of the channel.

Finally, the system design has also provided a disaster recovery station, with a single chain of CaptureBox, AirBox, TitleBox for emergency playout supplied within the same budget. For safety and reliability, the DR is located in a different place where the connectivity is provided via a point-to-point lease line.

The workflow would not be complete without archiving. A MAM archive server integrated with all the Apple Mac Pro and Windows OS editing stations was provided. The archive uses a combination of four servers - Metus Archive, MS SQL, Metus Process, Metus Online Web servers. Footage (all kinds of digital material) stored on the central storage are picked over the LAN via the Metus Client; the client archives the file and footage in its source format, along with a proxy automatically created in the archive process. The proxy can be viewed on any news client for future reference and use. For example, editors working on Macs can recall archived footage and use it in their edits.

The combination of seven AirBoxes, three TitleBoxes, seven CaptureBoxes, two Xserves, approximately 92 Tbytes of storage and NewsAir NRCS server, all integrated and powered by Metus, provide “Samaya TV” with a 24x7 Indian Regional News Channel. All this would not have been possible without the PlayBox Technology Flagship headed by Mr. Vassil Lefterov in Sofia, Bulgaria. This has indeed been an example of global teamwork.