How TV Cultura prepared for digital television

With the digitizing of program files and investments in equipment, TV Cultura prepares for the beginning of digital broadcasting

Putting an end to the annual expense of R$ 100 thousand in cassette tapes. The initiative was a step in the preparation for beginning digital broadcasting, whose start date is December 2, 2007. About 80% of the broadcasting company’s analog equipment, which date back to the 1990s, will be replaced. “Digitization is a matter of survival,” says the technical engineer at TV Cultura, José Chaves. According to him, analog products have not been available in the market for over ten years. Some of the project’s goals were to recover some of the television station’s oldest materials and to provide more funding for production.

In 2005, the information technology team at TV Cultura determined what needs, investments, manpower and training would be necessary to adapt the TV of São Paulo to the digital reality. Of the 26 people in the IT department, 15 professionals started to dedicate their time exclusively to the initiative. Chaves himself joined TV Cultura two years ago, specifically to lead this project. He explains that he was responsible for digitizing Brazilian television network Rede Globo.

According to Chaves, the images are already captured using digital cameras and then the productions are stored in video servers to be sent over the network to non-linear editing. After editing, however, the productions are still put back on tape in order to be transmitted – a process that will end when digital TV broadcasts begin.

According to Chaves, the images are already captured using digital cameras and then the productions are stored in video servers to be sent over the network to non-linear editing. After editing, however, the productions are still put back on tape in order to be transmitted – a process that will end when digital TV broadcasts begin.

Infrastructure

All these changes at TV Cultura had a direct impact on the station’s IT department, which prepared the technological environment for new video and data servers, storage and a network to accommodate the high traffic of data and specific software. Of the total amount invested, 15% was directed at spending on new infrastructure, which included furniture, air-conditioning and a cabling system.

Another aspect relates to changes in the search engine for the assets that have already been digitized. Sony’s video storage system (CATTD) is being replaced by Media Portal. “The primary necessity was the quality of the videos. We are improving,” says Chaves. “They are large files and difficult to manage,” says Fabio Tsuzuki, the supervisor for implementing the system.

A video’s resolution can range from 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to 50 megabits per second (Mbps). In this solution, it was necessary to deploy a dedicated corporate network so that the high-resolution videos could pass through it, in addition to acquiring servers, storage and equipment to manage the newly constituted network.

Media Portal‘s storage process is divided into three stages, which include the video registry, its digitization – performed on equipment capable of offering compatible quality for broadcasting – and eventual editing. The file is associated to its tag, and is automatically migrated to the storage areas managed by the program. These areas consist of Linear Tape-Open (LTO) disks and tapes, a technology that provides an external storage as a solution for the limited capacity of servers and for backups.

Once it is archived on the LTO tape, Media Portal produces a low-resolution file, which enables any employee at the station to search the assets. So far, 2,000 of the collection’s titles have been registered. This process eliminates process of transporting tapes, and allows an employee to access the digitized content through the intranet. Internal distribution, however, is a limitation that the technical engineer at TV Cultura intends to surpass. One of Chaves’ goals is remote interactivity. “Through broadcasting network, the viewer will be able to choose what to watch among a selection of purely cultural content,” he explains.

(Source: InformationWeek – 07/12/2007)