Lifetime’s new facility supports the multichannel network’s continuous growth
Lifetime's 50,000 sq ft Technical Operations Center at 111 8th Avenue in New York City is the culmination of many years of intensive planning and evaluation, driven by the vision of an HD-ready facility utilizing complex digital media systems and applications. The end result: a virtually tapeless delivery to air workflow for Lifetime's women's networks on ad-supported basic cable in the U.S., as well as new broadband programming in development for Lifetimetv.com.
Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services headed a design team that included Lifetime’s engineering department as well as the network’s newly formed Digital Media Task Force, a team comprised of broadcast and IT engineering experts.
From the outset, plans were in place for a centralized digital asset management system and a data center relocation, naturally blending the previously diverse cultures of broadcast and IT. The biggest design challenges involved the digital media applications and infrastructure supporting the production systems, vendor development partnerships and interoperability, and change management surrounding entirely new workfl ows. Equally critical was the selection of a media asset management partner. Following a comprehensive review process, Venaca’s S3 production system was selected to serve as the core digital media application.
The design team enabled Lifetime to proactively and effectively mesh the divergent approaches to systems engineering that have existed between broadcast and IT implementation. When evaluating NLE systems for the new facility, broadcast engineers learned the merits of full requirements gathering and product gap analysis organized by the IT project manager. Similarly, during the design of the facility’s network infrastructure, IT engineers gained an appreciation for the unique and often pragmatic needs of a 24/7 environment that cannot tolerate downtime. Careful attention was also paid to the media switching architecture, VLAN administration and security.
Ascent and Lifetime designed a core routing system with simplicity as the primary goal. After years of using multi-layers and sub-routers, Lifetime’s new facility uses HD, SDI, embedded audio and time code as the base signals.
Lifetime now has four QC/ingest suites where program materials are encoded into the production system; 12 nonlinear postproduction suites, a graphics and digital media services bureau, an audio production suite, a four-pod master control complex, a transmission control room and a central technical area dedicated to broadcast and IT equipment.