What are the challanges in todays News Production and Publishing?
To summarize the challanges in news journalism isn't easy. Things have changed quite a lot in the last 20 years as electronic communication via internet got available. Gone are the times when then news paper and later on cinema as well as radio have been the only source for news once a week. Today we have way more sources for news as journalists and we have to feed way more channels to transport such news to our audience. Furthermore due to the availability and 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 preserves this as a problem but as a chance.
The method to keep up with this environmental challages is to use the same modern tools in news journalism in a professional manor. Integrated computer systems are required to manage the source footage 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 on the suitable channels. This causes changes in the staffs roles. Journalists are required to gather informatation to be used for the distribution in various channels. Others are managing this assets with the mission to publish them within the right channel per time intervall and content character.
How is our News Production Solution addressing such challanges?
Our News Solution is targeting all publishing channels like 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 surounding systems to gather, research, produce, aggregate and publish daily content like news or sports. It includes systems for schedule and rundown as well as ressource planing. Our solution is made to work in the modern "story-based" journalistic aproach but allows 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. No need to say that all tools are accessible via web-based user interfaces world-wide.
How does a typical production and publishing workflow look like?
Every production starts with planing. That's not different in News. Once an idea to work on a certain topic was born journalists will research on this topic first. As soon it turns out the topic is worth to elaborate on ressources will be assigned on and a background research starts. In case the topic stays interesting a story is planned and producers, operators and technical resources need to be asigned. Within the newsroom system and the production asset management system a placeholder containter is created to hold all the information that is related to this story.
Later on the reporter teams will be sent out. They contribute video material from location as file, stream or satelite signal. Journalist will download source footage 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 to the systems and do fill in the placeholders.
Now the journalists will browse, select and pre-cut the various essences. Editing operators will take over to create the master clips for the various delivery targets such as linear playout, VOD, pictures and text on websites, social media and for content syndication.
As next the story is developed for the publication on the various media channels. This requires to prepare 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 webpage and social media publishing. And it requires the information to be prepared for radio reports. As next prior to publishing all production masters are reviewed and aproved by supervisors and chief journalists. Afterwards publishing operators are taking over to prepare the play-in to the news show, the publishing on the own news website, social media like Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, etc.
Who are the product partners for our News Production Solution?
Capella: file transcoding
ilionx: news room control system
FlowWorks: production asset management system
MXFserver: editing storage mangement 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
How does a network architecture can look like?
Ingest is a topic 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 desk
The central ingest desk is the main place for ingest operations. It's a room where all new content is brought to by the journalists, cameramen and other staff. Dedicated workstations are used by a team of ingest specialists to bring files from camera or USB storage devices into the production chain. While doing so files are previewed, selected, trimmed and stitched. Technical metadata is automatically generated and descriptional metadata is requested from the content sources. The product used for this function is Woody in2it. It transcodes and re-wraps the files to the house format at the ingest workstation.
A variant of central ingest is given when the source devices are getting attached to a server or files are getting moved there in advance to the ingest operations. In this case x-dream-media's Ingest Browser is the right choice. It allows to remotely browse, preview, select and segment video files. In difference to Woody's in2it the x-dream-media Ingest Browser sends the files for processing to x-dream-media's Workflow Manger 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 the 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 professinonally addressing the risk of viruses. Furthermore it allows to save costs when expensive storage device reader like Sony XDCAM HD or Panasonic P2 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-medias's WFM and other tools for virus scanning and QC.
To serve a larger number of journalist at their desk for occational ingests a Flow Upload Room is a cost effective alternative. See below at "remote journalists".
social media ingest
Ingesting social media means taking content from end-user publishing portals back to production environments. Usually an journalist has found an item of interest and faces the challange to retrieve and ingest the file. Download tools can be used in combination with usual ingest tools. More effective 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 given by satelite feeds, least line or studio signals. Traditionally such video is provided as HD-SDI signals. The recording itself usually happens as "crash-record" or as scheduled record. For a fully integrated multi (camera) feed recording our solution is based on Rohde & Schwarz Venice servers. As a very cost effective, non-integrated but feature rich alternative we recommend Medialooks Direct Take.
For recording of NDI-based IP studio as well as web streams the same usability is required but a different engine is needed to execute. x-dream-media is currently developing a brand new product for scheduled stream and signal recording. In contrast to existing tools and video servers it allows to re-stream the sources within the facility for realtime browsing. That way journalists can follow the feeds at their desks in a very cost efficent way.
Despite the fact that tapes might be dead archives often still consist from tapes. Sometimes tapes are still used in production or for transportation. Consequently our ingest solution addresses this topic for manual operations by making use of Rohde & Schwarz Venice servers in combination with Woody's in2it. Alternatively higher volumes of tape ingests are controlled by the THS ingest scheduler.
Journalists in the field are usually providing content only occasionally and in smaller volumes. But the number of such journalists might be very high. Thus a simplified way to upload video files with related metadata is required. Tools have to be world-wide accessible and intuitive to use. We do address this needs by so called "upload rooms". Technically such a room is a website that takes the file and requests mandatory and optional metadata. The journalist or occasional contributor either has access to his upload room as he is a permanently registered user or he gets invited by an operator to a temporal upload room.
Staff in remote offices do require a tight integration into the systems of the main facility to be as productive as possible. They can get 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.
new agencies feeds
Today news agencies and other B2B content supplier do deliver their assets whenever possible via internet. News agencies do most often supply a server to receive their content. Other suppiers do utilize legacy FTP or UDP accelerated transport (e.g. Signinant or Aspera). In contrast to movie production content security is most often 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.
After files and metadata have been ingested fully automated actions can take place: Transcoding and re-wrapping to house format or browsing proxies, quality control, audio processing (e.g. normalizing), video processing (e.g. standard conversions). Finally assets (files + metadata) are handed over to the production system(s). For instance the 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.
The 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 gets available. Often this might be sufficient for a story to get published (at least on web and social media). Only voice over has to be added. In other cases a story or publishing target (e.g. TV) requires more efforts (e.g. graphics are required) in craft editing.
low resolution pre-cut
The journalists do have access to all incoming audiovisual feeds from the web user interface of the News Room Control System (short: NRCS). The can add audio, video, graphic files to the stories they are working on. This information gets synchronized with no delay to the Production Managemnet System (short: PMS). Both systems do share the same web user interface. Thus journalists can pre-cut the stories within the low resolution 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 conformed as a server side process at any time. Afterwards a new asset is made available for publishing.
high resolution journalists 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 professinonal editing application offers. To make the editing result available for publishing he just need to render the timeline and move it back to the story bucket.
The craft editing technically equals the high resolution journalists editing but takes place in dedicated rooms with professional audio and video monitoring as well as audio recording equipment.
News production does follow a well defined production process that consists from 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 persons are notified automaticall and asked for approval. In case of a disagree the journalist and editors are notified, feedback information is provided and changes to perform are requested. On approval the content is automatically made available to the publishing and playout systems as well as the NRCS is notified. The system continiously informs supervisors about the progress.
c) Play-In, Playout and Publishing
The publishing action is initiated by the NRCS. Expected content could have 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 is avaialble for publishing at any time and at any target channel. That way a story can envolve over the time at 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 the playout automation is updated accordingly. For non-linear publishing (web and social media) the content is transcoded and uploaded to the related systems.
How does the service architecture of our News Production Solution do look like?
The News Room Control System (short: 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. As product for the NRCS we've selected ilionx NIS.
The Production Management System (short: PMS) is the heard of the News-Post-Production. It acts as Production Asset Management System, Workflow System and Traffic System. It manages the audio and video assets from ingest to playout and publishing. As product for the PMS we've selected 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 (short: MAM) is the brain of the News-Asset-Management. In contrast to the PMS it permanently stores all assets that had 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. As product for the MAM we've selected FlowWork's Flow Archive.
The Web Content Management System (short: CMS) is the face of the News-Publishing Solution. It presents all multimedia news content as modern website to the audience. Its focus is on adding audiovisual content to traditional text and picuture oriented websites. Driven by the NRCS it publishs and unpublishs fully automatically. As product for the CMS we've selected FlowWork's Flow web CMS.