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20 HD channels for over 8,800 live hours

More details on Sport Production and Operations at SKY Italia

20 HD channels for over 8,800 live hours (last year), 1,300 hours of unique productions, 1 All News HD Channel 24/7, plus 18 hours live Production per day and over 100 new stories each day! These are the figures involved for the SKY Sports Contents Production Platform.

The evolution of the system started around in 2000 with a stand alone configuration, evolved first as an integrated system in 2004, and then in 2006 it was centralized with the creation of sport ingest and near line archive and around 2009 as tapeless; the very latest version is dated 2012, it is HD and multimedia oriented, introducing several new tools for over 150 journalists and involving over 100 tech professionals.

 

Riccardo Botta, Head of Sport Production and Operations at Sky Italia, describes it: “The nature itself of the contents produced is extremely varied: it may be a simple news bulletin in which all stories are to be created very quickly; here the main need is reliability to guarantee immediate delivery of images. Or, in another case, for the cover of an important football match or for stories to be played in a live studio program, the production time may be a whole shift, require craft editing and perhaps also audio post is required.”

The system was partially already there and developed over the years but the migration to the new HD version was complex, and the present version involves on one side live video feeds incoming, and at the other end, the output is completely on files.

The core is a complex content production platform connected to a near line archive and also the delivery for all sports channels and for all the highlights: for instance, the inserts in the interval between matches, plus all stories edited in the suites and sent to playout.

All production studios have EVS equipments fed from the central system and the “content factory” -that is all new media contents- are fed by this system too.

The Sport Production and Operations dept direction decided to convert everything from the start in the file format world, so from input to delivery the video is completely avoided and file format rules.

The output is essentially the playout, the studio playout and the content factory addressed to interactive medias.

Furthermore the FTP relay system was abandoned in favor of acceleration systems on TCP UDP by Aspera systems.

Today the dimensions of this production platform are paramount.

Input is based on 28 recorded incoming feeds that in peak days account to an incredible quantity of over 400 recorded hours in XDCAM MPEG 2 a 50 MB file format MPEG2 LGOP 4:2:2.

File transfer is based on WAN acceleration and all files are ingested and automatically checked during recording, due to over 100 external suppliers feeding different formats, despite suggested specifics.

The Production department involves 25 concurrent editing suites, including Sport Time and SKY Sport 24, 3 audio finishing stations with Protools for quality editing, 3 tapeless voice-over suites, 150 desktop editing workstations. The 7,000 hours online archive is based on Avid and Isilon, plus 30,000 hours of scalable low res on line materials, and Long Term archive on Spectralogic tapes.

The Output is composed of six production studios with 12 Airspeed and 6 EVS, plus integration among EVS studios and Highlight system, the Playout of interactive tv based on 4 Airspeed systems, the tapeless delivery to playout, the transcoding factory vantage, the multi media Content Factory with six stations working for Sky.it, the on demand service and issuing contents for third parties.

Riccardo Botta comments: “All operating stations are desktop editing enabled, the online archive is based on Airspeed so all stories are immediately ready for production. All interactivity is managed by the system, and SKY.it, the on demand service, and everything that reaches the set top box is managed by the system through transcoding factory.

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