Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), headquartered in Hamburg, is part of ARD, a joint organisation of public service broadcasters in Germany. NDR produces for and broadcasts on TV, radio and online platforms. Within the ARD group, NDR is a leading producer of TV news programming including Tagesschau and Tagesthemen, both highly-respected news shows. In addition, NDR specialises in in-depth news reports, documentary films, political magazines and sports coverage. Finally, NDR produces a number of talk shows and cultural programmes.
To support production of up-to-the-minute news reports across the globe, NDR has a network of overseas studios in Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, Stockholm and London.
ENG teams, correspondents, cutters, technicians and the corresponding editing workstations are stationed at each site. In late 2015, NDR decided to upgrade these studios and bring them up to a consistent technical standard. The catalyst for this decision was a switch to Adobe Premiere Pro – an editing system that was already being used extensively at NDR’s broadcasting centre.
In addition to creating an automated, digital end-to-end workflow, a key objective was to establish a digital archive in each studio. A top priority was to create stable, reliable media backups, while it was also important to ensure that broadcast items could be easily retrieved in a format suitable for further editing.
The system components
NDR checked various products and systems based on the most important features that NDR required. Ultimately, the broadcaster opted for the EditShare Ingest and Storage system and Flow as production media asset management system, Sony ODA hardware based on optical disc with long-term guarantee (100 years) for the archive solution, and Adobe Premiere Pro as mentioned above.
Having chosen products and systems from diverse vendors, the next challenge was to integrate these into a workflow that effectively supported the processes in place at the overseas studios. The solution needed to safeguard NDR’s high quality standards while complying with budget requirements. MoovIT is a systems partner of EditShare, Adobe and Sony and provides the necessary qualifications. Furthermore MoovIT’s team of software experts has developed HelmutFX, a modular tool that aims to provide the ‘missing link’ between these components while also performing other tasks.
HelmutFX was developed as a ‘virtual coordinator for search and administrative tasks’. It is modular by design, and was conceived to allow a single piece of software to handle all post-production management tasks. It is scalable, and can be adapted to any production environment. As a result, small and mid-sized production units can work in a way that was previously only possible with a large-scale, complex and expensive workflow.
The first step of NDR’s end-to-end workflow encompasses automated ingest of all data formats in use, with simultaneous synchronisation for further processing in Premiere Pro and EditShare Flow.
This is made possible thanks to a Premiere panel controlled by HelmutFX which uses presets to manage metadata, target locations on the central storage system and target codecs. HelmutFX users receive presets that correspond to their specific user profiles and the categories that have been assigned to them.
In the background, HelmutFX manages projects, categories, user pro-files and preferences (Premiere user settings) for the entire process.
HelmutFX creates all Premiere and Flow projects, and synchronises these automatically. As part of this process, the API is triggered by Flow; consequently, the user does not need to perform any administrative maintenance tasks on the MAM system.
After cutting, files are automatically formatted, transcoded and exported via the panel described above. If required, files can be exported to NDR’s in-house formats – and at the same time, files are automatically assigned to the corresponding projects in Flow.
To save resources and avoid bottlenecks at the editing workstations, media files are imported and exported using the central Adobe Media Encoder (AME), rather than locally. Users can communicate with AME using watch folders, and can perform administrative tasks via a web-based in-terface.
By way of the metadata field, the MAM client can launch archive, backup and re-store processes. Files are selected in Flow, and the store/restore process is initialised using the web-based NDR-SaR interface developed by MoovIT.
Metadata and proxies continue to be stored within the MAM system during archiving. High-resolution files are transferred to the ODA drive for long-term storage. The original files are tested using checksums before being deleted. If required for use, media can be retrieved and activated at any time using unique IDs.
HelmutFX and ODA are administered using a single server. System availability is guaran-teed at all times, thanks to a redundant server that will automatically take over if an incident or outage occurs.
NDR modernizes its overseas studios with fully automated end-to-end workflows with automated ingest and export in all formats, including in-house formats. The workflow includes metadata-based MAM file management and long-term digital archiving. The Adobe Premiere Pro and EditShare flow systems communicate and synchronise with each other automatically.
During ingest, cutters can already start their work, parallel translations can be started, and voiceovers can be edited. Moreover, expanding file sizes are no longer an issue.
HelmutFX automates file allocation and management processes, increasing effi-ciency and minimising the risk of errors.
Since all of NDR’s overseas studios now have a near-identical workflow, employees can move flexibly between sites without re-quiring re-training each time they relocate.
The innovative and intelligent solution frees up time for employees at the studios, allowing them to focus on their core task – the production of reports.
Software developers at MoovIT have developed HelmutFX, a tool that simplifies production management and streamlines working processes.
One of the key aspects of HelmutFX is that the tool is integrated into the existing workflow. In other words, HelmutFX adapts itself to the workflow – not the other way around.
HelmutFX is a standard, off-the-shelf product with a modular design. As a result, it is capable of handling administrative and organisational tasks in every production environment.
In post-production, the tool works in a similar way to an enterprise service bus. It is able to communicate with all connected systems (ingest, archive, backup, MAM, PAM, etc.).
The tool supports workflows that already function well, and helps eliminate issues. Consequently, editors can focus fully on creative tasks and processes.
Broadcasting organisations and production houses have recognised that this easy-to-install, user-friendly tool can help them to significantly streamline and optimise complex processes.
Helmut FX in detail:
HelmutFX works in the background and manages search and administrative processes for Premiere project files. The tool supports cutters and editors as they work, thanks to a customisable program interface and personalised settings in the editing panel of their editing software.
HelmutFX sorts, distributes and backs up edited files automatically. Users can focus on their core tasks – whether they are part of a small production environment or a large-scale project with multiple participants across networks.
In contrast to the typical approach, where workflows are adapted to the software, the HelmutFX tool actually adapts to the workflow. The core of the software has been deliberately designed with a small number of functions that are used in every production environment. Expansion modules are available that allow the software to be adapted to customer-specific requirements. This approach creates maximum flexibility and secures the value of the original investment, as it is easy to incorporate changes to the workflow.
How is Helmut FX structured?
HelmutFX is modular by design. It provides a one-program software solution for the management of all post-production processes, in a similar way to an ESB (enterprise service bus).
The basic installation manages Premiere projects, user profiles and preferences. The system was developed for Premiere users, but can be adapted to any other post-production infrastructure. Although its design is inherently simple, the tool is capable of supporting highly complex processes.
Suitable expansions and adaptations are available to fit specific customer requirements and infrastructures (e.g. integration into a MAM system such as VPMS, EditShare Flow or Canto). Access privileges can be assigned using an administration interface.
The HelmutFX tool can be used to manage workflows, as it is able to create projects based on pre-defined templates for specific users or departments. If the user is a cutter, for example, the functions and layouts they see will differ from those available to an editor.
Using the APIs of Premiere, After Effects or other products, it is possible to consolidate and centrally manage all integrated production processes with a single tool.
HelmutFX manages a wide range of tasks in the background – including project assignment, settings, codecs, folder structures and track labelling. It also assigns formats for the sound and graphics departments. For example, if a cutter exports files to Pro Tools, the tool will translate commands accordingly to enable immediate further processing.
As a result, HelmutFX simplifies and accelerates search and administrative processes when editing project files. Program interfaces and settings are adapted to the specific needs of users and their workflows.
What do users need in order to use Helmut FX?
The program has a simple design and is easy to pick up and use, with no need for intensive training.
With this tool, the operator/user no longer needs to think about where projects should be located, where settings are saved, which codec they should use or where they should save files. By the same token, they no longer have to consider how projects should be structured, how tracks should be labelled, or which format the sound or graphics departments will receive.
Users benefit from automated file coordination and organisation. And thanks to a user-friendly interface tailored specifically to their requirements, users are free to concentrate on their core tasks.
Reference project for Helmut FX
WestCom: Automated workflow – with high reliability
The HelmutFX tool was implemented as part of a project to modernise the technology workflows at WestCom. At WestCom, editors also fulfil the role of VJs, managing and editing reports from ingest through to play-out. HelmutFX allows all users to work seamlessly using Adobe Premiere editing software – from media import to the finished article. The technically complex automated workflow incorporates easy-to-use elements that have cut the number of errors by 50 per cent. This is particularly important for just-in-time broadcast production.
BSH is Europe`s largest manufacturer of home appliances, and one of the world`s leading players in the sector with 14 brands. In addition to global brands such as Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff, the BSH portfolio includes popular local brands and labels. The corporation posted annual sales revenues of 12.6 billion euros in 2015, and currently employes over 56,000 people. It operates an international network of sales and customer service organizations, and has a total of approximately 80 companies in some 50 countries.
Appliances manufactured and sold by BSH include stoves, ovens, cooker hoods, dishwashers, washing machines, trumble dryers, fridges, freezers, vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, kettles, irons and hairdryers.
The BSH brands are constantly developing new products. Consequently, BSH communications specialists face the constant challenge of presenting these products to markets across the globe, in a way that is customer-friendly and easy to understand. In this regard, product videos are a particularly popular method; the moving images create a vivid illustration of how products such as dishwashers and fridges work.
However, the accompanying text needs to be adapted into various languages, and visual elements such as logos must be localised for each region. This time-consuming process can also be cost-intensive, particularly if subsequent edits need to be made due to changing requirements.
The goal was to find a faster, cost-effective and flexible solution suitable for use around the globe, so that product videos could be updated more efficiently for international use. A web-based solution seemed the most logical approach.
The BSH product information management team tasked MoovIT with developing a system for the decentralised, web-based editing of language, text and graphics in product videos, so that these could be adapted for international use.
The solution needed to include connections to central communications systems, and take access privileges into account. All relevant BSH product information is managed in a central system, including new and subsequently localised videos.
The solution developed by MoovIT, named Title Tool, communicates with the central BSH system. Consequently, it enables videos to be localised quickly, easily and in line with the specific requirements of each country.
Once a new product master video has been completed, the file and its metadata are uploaded to the product information management system, and to the Title Tool system for further processing. Next, the marketing team at headquarters approves the video for release, and defines which regions should receive access to the file for localisation purposes. This stage of the process requires teams in individual countries to have the necessary access privileges. Video managers in each region are notified that a new video has been prepared, and subsequently inform their translation teams.
The translators access the video using the web-based Title Tool, and add their translations via a secure and easy-to-use interface. To perform this task, they only need access to a typical office infrastructure.
An optional additional step allows users to adapt spoken information using a voice-over function. This is because the system also permits decentralised editing of audio tracks. Once all steps have been completed, a notification is sent to the Title Tool. The video is rendered and automatically transferred to the product information management system. Management of metadata ensures that each video is correctly assigned, and allows the entire process to be traced within the system.
At this stage, the localised video is available for further use where authorised. Local video and marketing managers enjoy total flexibility in using the video, and can share it across key marketing channels – such as YouTube, social media, websites or as a download in stationary applications – in line with their campaign.
This communications process does not just facilitate the distribution of centrally created product videos. It also allows BSH teams from across the globe to share successful video productions with their colleagues, so that they can employ them for their own purposes.
The goal of this project was to optimise the global video localisation process at BSH. With this in mind, the system design was developed and revised to incorporate all process steps from video production to playout, and formally defined as a written guideline specification.
All relevant stakeholders – including colleagues, agencies and production houses – have received the necessary information and training.
Other important considerations in the design included data security, a seamless connection with the product information management system, and the provision of web-based, automated editing processes.
MoovIT manages the Title Tool system for BSH, provides the corresponding hardware and offers technical support.
This open, scalable system will allow BSH to incorporate as many of their approximately 80 registered languages into the editing process as desired. This flexibility also extends to all of BSH’s brands and products.
The system ensures a consistent, standardised approach to the creation and distribution of product video information.
Master video metadata can be used to define the necessary access privileges and authorisations in each country, even during the video creation process itself.
The solution has greatly increased flexibility regarding the use of videos in participating regions. Decisions on whether to use videos are taken at a local level.
The solution enables BSH teams to share product information videos throughout their organisation, right across the globe.
BSH has significantly reduced its costs compared to the traditional process, as video localisation procedures can now be initiated as and when required, rather than having to plan and produce a ‘stockpile’ of videos in various languages.
As a result, master videos are completed far more quickly, and local managers enjoy flexibility when planning their campaigns.
Video managers can use the Title Tool to access the master video – easily, and in line with their local situation and needs. In just a few hours, they can update the video to fit their purposes.
System implementation is successfully underway in Europe. In the medium term, all BSH sites and brands across the globe will be incorporated into this system – giving the entire BSH organisation access to this efficient localisation solution for product information videos.
Growing numbers of businesses are leveraging videos to share information and insights. In fact, videos have been integral to corporate communications for some time. However, many companies struggle to deliver targeted, personalised content – an issue that is just as relevant to video as it is to traditional communications. The way that customers perceive video content determines how successfully it conveys the key message. Manufacturers, service providers and agencies produce videos to communicate with customers on a host of topics. For example, insurance providers prepare summaries of financial reports, while other businesses use videos to congratulate couples on a new birth. Fashion retailers create clips showcasing the latest seasonal trends, automakers produce videos advertising the perfect car for specific individuals, and cosmetics companies deliver helpful hints, tutorials and recommendations. By combining words, images and sound, videos achieve an effect that exceeds the sum of their parts. And that impact can be enhanced by communicating in a way that feels truly personalized, rather than generic.
MoovIT has developed a new tool that allows businesses to address their customers by name in every video – by simply adapting its text, graphics or language as required. As a result, information and messages are delivered in an engaging and highly targeted way. Animated graphics illustrate the personalised product, while customised greetings and tailored reports address customer-specific issues.
The MoovIT solution
Customer data is imported from the relevant database and assigned to a master video, which is produced only once. Text, graphics and animations are automatically personalised and integrated into the video. The solution’s basic hardware comprises a scalable server and storage system. MoovIT’s software specialists have developed a web-based program that links the video files with customer data. This program can be used anywhere, in line with defined access privileges. Clear administrative and authorisation structures ensure total data security, increase efficiency and simplify collaboration. Moreover, a user-friendly panel makes it easy to assign individual components to the master video, while automated personalisation of all videos takes place in the background, with no manual input required.
The program expedites the entire process of video personalisation. The solution can be used for any number of customers, and content can be delivered over any period of time. Customers receive highly targeted content that directly addresses their needs. The program can be integrated into all common types of customer database, and deployed across the globe in a variety of languages – and the same is true of MoovIT’s in-house-developed localisation function. MoovIT lays the foundations for seamless integration, and ensures that data is available in the correct formats for distribution (via web, mobile devices, etc.).
If you are interested in solutions to the complex challenge of video personalisation, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
24 teams from across Europe have arrived in France for the Euro 2016 international football tournament. With a total of 51 matches taking place, this hotly anticipated tournament is a bona fide festival of sporting action.
With more teams and matches than at previous events, more technology is in use – and more content is being produced – than ever before. This poses new challenges for broadcast teams, both at the broadcasting centre and on-site at the tournament venues.
MoovIT has provided technical support and services at recent World Cups and European Championships. The Cologne-based provider – together with partners including EVS, Adobe, HP and Solarflare – has delivered the necessary hardware and implemented seamless workflows.
As at previous tournaments, the task for broadcasters at Euro 2016 is to prepare and publish highlights packages as soon as each match has finished. These clips need to include all the major talking points from the game. While match footage is being recorded, editors leverage cutting-edge software to access content stored centrally on the EVS servers, alleviating the need for copying or transcoding. This requires an extremely high-performance storage system and exceptional IT infrastructure, as the files continue to expand as the match progresses, and all production processes require access to the same data.
Across multiple tournaments, the StorNext SAN integrated by EVS has proven to be a fast, reliable and high-performance storage system.
For Euro 2016, approximately 40 editing workstations have been installed, each equipped with a Hewlett-Packard Z-Workstation. Each computer is connected to the rest of the network via a 10-gigabit fibre-optic cable. Adobe Premiere Pro CC, After Effects and Audition are leveraged for post-processing tasks, and Prelude is used for conforming and logging. All of these applications are sourced from the Adobe Creative Cloud. In addition, Maxon Cinema 4D is being deployed for numerous graphic design tasks.
When it comes to real-time editing, ensuring rapid, low-latency data transfer is a top priority. With this in mind, each HP workstation has a Solarflare 10GbE network adapter that gives the user seamless, super-fast access to the central server. Specifically, the adapter uses a file server to access the central SAN storage system for content editing tasks.
The Solarflare SFN5162F network adapters preferred by EVS feature two 10GbE ports, and offer 40 Gb/s two-way data transfer, with minimal jitter. As a result, they fulfil all of the key requirements
of this solution. In addition, the adapters ease the load on the CPUs at each workstation, freeing them from operational processing tasks – and therefore increasing the processor’s productivity when
The standard, system-wide production format uses the AVCIntra 100 codec, with a 1080i50 resolution. All content is stored, processed and distributed in line with these specifications, with no intermediate formats and no other codecs. The content management system is based on EVS’s IP Director software.
To ensure seamless interaction between the EVS storage system and Adobe Premiere editing software, MoovIT’s developers have created a standardised tool known as Helmut. This tool accelerates and simplifies search and administrative processes when editing project files. Helmut also adapts the program interface and settings to the exact requirements of each user.
Throughout Euro 2016, MoovIT will continue to assist the event hosts at the broadcasting centre – both with implementation of the technology, and with ongoing support.
IP Director logs highlights while matches are taking place. The ‘IP Link for Adobe’ panel inside the editing system displays the very latest logging information. The editor sees a list of thumbnails depicting key passages of play, and can use these to quickly create a highlights clip.
Editors can access the files on the EVS servers, even as these files continue to expand. This significantly accelerates the entire process.
The solution eliminates the need to transfer or re-code material, as users have direct access to content on the EVS server, and Premiere Pro CC supports native editing of footage.
The material – including all relevant meta-data – is made available to all users on the EVS server, in a highly secure, read-only format.
The workflow described here has become standard practice at both the World Cup and European Championships, and enables highlights packages to be delivered just moments after the final whistle blows.
As system partners, EVS, Solarflare, Adobe and MoovIT have worked together to create a solution that enables these major sporting events to be a real success, both on and off the pitch.