Automation & Asset Management
By HROAR PETTERSEN, head of technology at NRK. believe it has given us one of the most advanced
asset management systems in the world.
The ability to share, find and deploy our
assets across our 13 production centres is key to
our ability to develop as a broadcaster, targeting
new audience sectors and fulfiling our vision of
NRK’s place in the national culture.
In December 2007 the Programme Bank
system successfully went live, with an OmniBus
OPUS media asset management system providing
powerful facilities to our 13 regional broadcasting
centres and the Oslo-based archive. We have
initially deployed Programme Bank in the
children’s entertainment department, and will
bring other departments online throughout 2008.
The system provides access to and direct control
over programmes in production, raw assets, and
archive material for up to 3000 users across
NRK’s production centres.
The essential parts of the system comprise a
5000-hour Omneon production server system,
allowing direct editing of media on the server
using Final Cut Pro editing clients, and a 60,000-
hour StorageTek production tape library governed
RK (Norsk Rikskringkasting) is Desktop editing using OPUS on one screen by the OPUS system. The OPUS suite of
Norway’s national broadcaster, based and Final Cut Pro on the other. applications includes Workflow Control, which
N in Oslo, but with 12 regional contributor to the success of the radio channels. provides the tools needed for an individual task,
production centres that offer a lot of NRK is a small broadcaster compared with the and the web-based SmartClient that enables
local material on TV, the radio and the Internet. major broadcasters in Europe, but it has always intranet-based searches, browse and keyframe
As a state-funded broadcaster, NRK has an managed to hold a leading position in technology viewing across the NRK platforms. It is integrated
important cultural position in the life of the and methods for providing the audience with the with NRK's enterprise-wide legacy OmniBus
nation, and a strong public service tradition. The best content. As just one example of NRK’s device control and automation system, bridging
geography of the country tends to emphasise the forward-looking approach, our roster of radio the gap between new and legacy systems.
regional aspect of our operations: the population stations includes NRK 5.1, the world’s first station This is a complex and powerful
of 4.5 million is spread through a narrow strip of providing 5.1 sound. implementation of OmniBus OPUS and it
land that’s 3500km long. At the same time, In 2005 NRK decided to take the next step provides streamlined integration of the many
there’s a concentration of one million in the Oslo forward in order to support this regional new and existing technologies forming part of
region, and this is naturally enough where our approach and to make it possible to strengthen NRK’s system, including the MediaGenix
main broadcasting resources are. the organisation’s capacity for developing new planning facility, a radio system by D.A.V.I.D, an
Given the topology and the population spread, services and channels in emerging arenas such as ENPS system from ApENPS, the Omneon
broadcasting in Norway serves a central role in Internet broadcasting and mobile TV. At the heart production servers, digital archive management
the nation’s life: Norwegians watch more news of our thinking was an infrastructure for efficient from Front Porch Digital, and existing production
on television than most nations do, and the local management of our assets in a way that would environments from Avid and Quantel.
morning broadcasts from 06:00-09:00 have an give all the regional production centres access to It was our intention when designing the
average of 1.3 million listeners. The regional a commonly-shared resource. This became Programme Bank system that it should provide
nature of these broadcasts is an important known as the Programme Bank project, and we transparent access to the content library for
34 IBE MARCH/APRIL 2008
Automation & Asset Management
production staff in any of our production centres, So this careful approach to metadata ensures editing. This considerably streamlines the craft-
and for this to happen, several important that the content library is transparently accessible editing stage, which can either be done in
conditions had to be met in terms of metadata, to all of our staff. But this would count for little if OmniBus HeadLine, or one of our other editing
and in browsing and editing. we were not also able to solve the bottlenecks environments. SmartClient shot lists can also be
When up to 3000 staff have access to content, around the edit suites which occur particularly at transferred direct into Final Cut Pro for editing
it’s vital that the metadata is consistently busy times. This is where the OmniBus and eventual transfer to the playout servers or
managed so that people can get to the material SmartClient technology helps out, by giving archive system. The OPUS system allows our staff
they want quickly, and make sure they enable researchers a platform-independent, browse and to search any published content on the Quantel
others to do so too, when they are responsible for picture-research environment within a web- news system, and publish shot lists to it for
ingest. To this end, the OPUS system browser window. There are several major immediate playout under OmniBus automation
automatically captures metadata when material is advantages for NRK in this technology: firstly, it control. It also allows us to move content into
viewed, edited, aired, and reused. A lot of vital allows unlimited access to the content (we think and out of any of the other devices in our system,
information such as clip names, duration, and the in terms of 3000 users); it’s platform independent, including the servers, archive and generic IT
physical location of material, is recorded at each and independent of location too, so if we wanted storage.
stage of the process. We could rely on staff to do a journalist in an internet cafe to be able to The OPUS system implements a number of
this manually, but it’s very easy to overlook in a browse and create shot lists, that’s possible; and, other automated workflows in the Programme
busy production environment, and the result since SmartClient doesn’t require any special Bank system, including automatic transfer of
would be that those important facts and figures software residing on the client computers, material to NRK’s subtitling department, and the
would be lost forever. In addition to this data, we maintenance is very easy - an upgrade to the subsequent viewing of low-res browse versions
use OPUS PinPoint to allow our staff to add server software is instantly reflected in the with subtitles.
custom indexed metadata and the technology client’s. OmniBus developed SmartClient as one NRK set out to create a world-beating
allows them to search using synonym, phonetic, of the first applications to use Microsoft production and asset management system in
and proximity search criteria. Silverlight technology for a graphically-rich and Programme Bank, by integrating best-of-breed
Another part of the technology streamlines interactive experience without relying on technologies from suppliers, removing isolated
the transfer of material between domains, additional software. What it gives us is a less production islands and making better use of
ensuring that this is easily and securely achieved, technical interface than the OPUS G3 desktop - NRK’s combined assets. The result is increased
with all metadata remaining intact and linked to suited to creative staff who are not craft editors. programme output and efficiency for distribution
the material. We have what we think is a NRK’s journalists and editors use SmartClient platforms, including a third channel on the new
uniquely streamlined way of handling transfers, to browse available material in the OPUS system, DVB terrestrial network. The OPUS technology
with OPUS Transfer Manager automating the making shot selections of key events, marking provides a crucial element in our architecture, and
transfer of the hi-res material and the low-res edit points, combining pieces of content and with the OmniBus SmartClient we have the
browse versions, together with all keyframes and creating shot lists, before sending the project back potential for almost limitless flexibility in access
metadata, in a single, one-button operation. to the content management system for further to our assets.
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IBE MARCH/APRIL 2008 35