News Production and Publishing Solution

New production and publishing from research to linear playout and non-linear publication in social media and on web portals.

Factsheet

What are the challenges in today's News Production and Publishing?

To summarise the challenges in news journalism isn't easy. Things have changed quite a lot in the last 20 years as electronic communication via the internet became available. Gone are the days when then newspaper and later, cinemas as well as radio have been the only source for daily and weekly news. Today, as journalists, we have many more sources for news and we have to feed many more channels to transport news to our audiences. Furthermore, due to the availability of high speed of internet communication, the volume of news per day has dramatically increased and the available time for publication has dramatically decreased. But let's not perceive this as a problem but rather as an opportunity.

The method to keep up with these environmental challenges is to use the same modern tools in news journalism in a professional manner. Integrated computer systems are required to manage the source content stream (text, pictures, audio, video, social media), to research within this pool of information, to select the relevant items, to produce news stories and finally to publish them. This causes changes in staff roles. Journalists are required to gather information to be used for the distribution in various channels. Others are managing these assets with the mission to publish them within the relevant channel, on time.

How is our News Production Solution addressing these challenges?

Our News Solution targets all publishing channels such as TV, radio, web and social media from one fully integrated cockpit. It's made to migrate to a digital-first strategy. Consequently, it integrates all surrounding systems to gather, research, produce, aggregate and publish daily content like news or sports. It includes systems for schedule and rundown as well as resource planning. Our solution is made to work in the modern "story-based" journalistic approach but allows the ability to work in the traditional schedule-oriented way as well. In other words, our solution covers the complete news live cycle from the first idea up to story archiving. Needless to say, all tools are accessible via web-based user interfaces, worldwide.

News Production Solution Building Blocks

How does a typical production and publishing workflow look like?

Every production starts with planning. That's not different from News. Once an idea to work on a certain topic is born, journalists will research the topic first. As soon it turns out the topic is worth elaborating on, resources will be assigned and background research starts. In case the topic stays interesting, a story is planned and producers, operators and technical resources need to be assigned. Within the newsroom system and the production asset management system a placeholder container is created to hold all the information that is related to this story.
Later on, reporters will be sent out. They contribute video material on-location as files, streams or satellite signals. Journalists will also download source material from social media. Archivists will search for historic content and agencies will contribute text wires, pictures and video clips via file transfer. All such, essences are ingested into the systems as well as fill in the various placeholders.
Next, the journalists will browse, select and pre-cut the various essences. Editing operators will take over to create master clips for the various delivery targets such as linear playout, VOD, pictures & text on websites, social media and for content syndication.
Next, the story is developed for the publication on various media channels. This requires the preparation of scripts for the announcement of a news item and for voice over in linear playout within a news show. It requires text and pictures to be prepared for the webpage and social media publishing as well as preparation for radio reports. Next, prior to publishing, all production masters are reviewed and approved by supervisors and chief journalists. Afterward, publishing operators take over to prepare the 'play-in' for the news show, news websites, and social media e.g. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, etc.

e2e workflow

Who are the product partners for our News Production Solution?

News Production Solution Product Partners

Capella: File transcoding
ilionx: Newsroom control system
FlowWorks: Production asset management system
MXFserver: Editing storage management system
Rohde & Schwarz: Tape ingest and live feed recording
Signiant: B2B file transfer and workflow automation
Woody: File and metadata ingest
x-dream-media: Ingest file processing

An example of a typical network architecture.

a) Ingest

News Production Solution Network Architekture Ingest

Ingest
Ingest is a topic in itself. Our "New Production and Publishing Solution" addresses all kinds of ingest. It makes use of the capabilities of our "Ingest Master Solution".

Central Ingest Station
The Central Ingest Station is the main place for ingest operations. It's usually located in a room where all new content is brought to. A number of dedicated workstations are used by a team of ingest specialists to bring files from various storage devices into the sales and delivery environment. While doing so, files are previewed, selected, pre-cut and stitched. Technical metadata is automatically generated and descriptional metadata is added manually. The product used for this function is Woody in2it. It can transcode and re-wrap the files to the platform-internal format.
A variant of central ingest is offered when the source devices are attached to a server or files are being moved there in advance of the ingest operations. In this case, X-Dream-Media's Ingest Browser is the right choice. It allows you to remotely browse, preview, select and segment video files. Compared to Woody's in2it, the X-Dream-Media Ingest Browser sends the files for processing to X-Dream-Media's Workflow Manager (WFM). WFM orchestrates transcoding, re-wrapping, QC, virus scanning and other operations. It's usually used to manage larger amounts of material.

Desktop or Kiosk Ingest
In addition to the central ingest, desktop or kiosk ingest offers journalists and creatives to bring source material into the production environment from their workspaces or dedicated computers close to their desks. A dedicated computer allows addressing the risk of viruses professionally. Furthermore, it saves costs when expensive storage devices like Sony XDCAM HD are required. The functionality provided is identical to the central ingest desks. The product of choice is again Woody's in2it in combination with x-dream-media's WFM and other tools for virus scanning and QC.
To serve a larger number of journalists at their desks for occasional ingests, a Flow Upload Room is a cost-effective alternative. Please see "remote journalists" below.

Social Media Ingest
Ingesting social media content is taking content from end-user publishing portals back to production environments. Usually, a journalist has found an item of interest and faces the challenge of retrieving and ingesting the file. Download tools can be used in combination with usual ingest tools. A more efficient method is using one integrated tool. In our solution, we use a brand-new variant of Woody's in2it (to be released) for directly downloading and ingesting from social media and web portals.

Live Feed Recording
Live sources can be provided by satellite feeds, lease line or studio transmissions. Traditionally video is provided as HD-SDI signals. The recording usually happens as a "crash-record" or scheduled record. For a fully integrated multi (camera) feed recording, our solution is based on Rohde & Schwarz Venice servers.
For the recording of NDI-based IP studios as well as web streams, the same usability is required but a different engine is needed to execute. x-dream-media launched a new product line called OneSERV that offers scheduled stream and signal recording. In contrast to existing tools and video servers, it allows the re-stream of sources within the facility for real-time browsing. That way journalists can follow the feeds at their desks in a very cost efficient way.
As a very cost-effective, non-integrated but feature-rich alternative for ingest recording, we recommend Medialooks Direct Take.

Tape Ingest
Despite the fact that tape might be dead, archives often still consist of tapes. Sometimes tapes are still used in production or for transportation. Consequently, our ingest solution addresses this by making use of Rohde & Schwarz Venice servers in combination with Woody's in2it. High volumes of tape ingest are controlled by the THS ingest scheduler.

Remote Journalists & Contributors
Although Journalists in the field and contributors are usually only providing content occasionally and in smaller volumes, there may be very many of them. Therefore a simplified way to up and download video files with related metadata is required. Tools have to be accessible globally and be intuitive to use. We address these needs by "upload rooms". Technically these rooms are a website that takes the essence file and requests mandatory and optional metadata. The contributor has access to their own room as they are a permanently registered user or they get invited by an operator to a temporary room.

Remote Offices
Staff in remote offices require tight integration into the systems of the main facility in order to be as productive as possible. They can be equipped with a fully featured but smaller scale system. The users interact with a local system that sends and retrieves the files and metadata to and from the main facility as a background process.

News Agency Feeds
Today news agencies and other B2B content suppliers deliver their assets whenever possible via the internet. News agencies usually supply a server to receive their content. Other suppliers may utilize legacy FTP or UDP accelerated transport (e.g. Signiant or Aspera). In contrast to movie production, content security is usually less relevant, but speed and flexibility matter! Our ingest to news production and publishing has connectors to all relevant news feed suppliers. Based on existing frameworks, any other supplier can get easily connected.

Processing
After files and metadata have been ingested, fully automated actions can take place such as transcoding and re-wrapping to a house format or browsing proxies, quality control, audio processing (e.g. normalising), video processing (e.g. standard conversions). Finally, assets (files + metadata) are handed over to the production system(s). For instance, a high resolution file is moved and checked into the post-production management system, a low resolution browsing proxy is made available to the media asset management system or the newsroom system.

Post-Production

News Production Solution Network Architekture Editing

Post-production in news dramatically differs from usual creative craft editing: time matters! Journalists need to preview, select and rough-cut source footage as soon as it becomes available. Often this might be sufficient for a story to get published, at least on the web and social media. Only voice-over needs to be added. In other cases, a story or publishing target (e.g. TV) requires more effort (e.g. graphics are required) in craft editing.

Low Resolution Pre-cut
Journalists have access to all incoming audiovisual feeds from the web user interface of the News Room Control System (NRCS). The can add audio, video & graphic files to the stories they are working on. This information gets synchronised with no delay to the Production Management System (PMS). Both systems share the same web user interface, therefore, journalists can pre-cut stories within the rough cut editor of the PMS without leaving their desk. Voice over can be added but needs to be recorded in a silent environment. The result can be confirmed as a server-side process at any time. Afterward, a new asset is made available for publishing.

High Resolution Editing
Alternatively, the journalist could open Adobe Premiere at his desk and can access the exact same story related file collection via a panel integration to the PMS. Now he has all the flexibility in editing that a professional editing application offers. To make the editing result available for publishing, they just need to render the timeline and move it back to the story bucket.

Craft Editing
Craft editing is the same as high-resolution editing but takes place in dedicated rooms with professional audio and video monitoring as well as audio recording equipment.

News production follows a well-defined production process that consists of manual journalistic work, some automatic processing, and human interaction. For instance, no content may be published or aired prior to a chief editor and head of news has reviewed and approved the story. Such business processes can be "implemented" within the Flow Workflow Manager. Once a story is finished the relevant people are notified automatically and asked for approval. In case of any disagreement, the journalist and editors are notified, feedback information is provided and requested changes are made. On approval, the content is automatically made available to the publishing and playout systems and the NRCS is notified. The system continuously informs supervisors about the progress.

Play-In, Playout and Publishing

News Production Solution Network Architekture Publishing

Content Publishing
The publishing action is initiated by the NRCS. Expected content could be scheduled for publishing and playout in advance. In this case, it is immediately published and gets available for playout according to the rundown. Alternatively, the newly edited content shows up in the NRCS within the related story bucket. It's available for publishing at any time and on any target channel. This way, a story can evolve over the time on different publishing channels.

For linear studio play-in or playout (TV and radio) the content is moved by the NRCS to the playout server and playout automation is updated accordingly. For non-linear publishing (web and social media) the content is transcoded and uploaded to the related systems.

An example of the service architecture of our News Production Solution?

News Production Solution Service Architecture

The News Room Control System (NRCS) is the backbone for all news related information research and aggregation, story editing and production as well as cross-media publishing and monitoring. It addresses story as well as schedule based journalistic work. It targets TV, radio, web and social media publishing channels. The NRCS product we've selected is ilionx NIS.

The Production Management System (PMS) is the heart of the News-Post-Production. It acts as a Production Asset Management System, Workflow System and Traffic System. It manages the audio and video assets from ingest to playout and publishing. The PMS product we've selected is FlowWork's FlowCenter. For customers with distributed organisations the PMS can be deployed at every facility and connected to act as one global system via the flow-to-flow module.

The Media Archive (MAM) is the brain of the News-Asset-Management. In contrast to the PMS it permanently stores all assets that have been produced and all source footage of relevance. Furthermore, it stores research information (e.g. PDF, DOC, pictures) independently from the existence of audiovisual sources. The MAM product we've selected is FlowWork's Flow Archive.

The Web Content Management System (CMS) is the face of the News-Publishing Solution. It presents all multimedia news content as a modern website to the audience. Its focus is on adding audiovisual content to traditional text and picture oriented websites. Driven by the NRCS it publishes and unpublishes fully automatically. The CMS product we've selected is FlowWork's Flow web CMS.