Major League Baseball Network (MLBN)
For years, MLB Productions (MLBP) monitored the digital asset management space searching for a solution to manage its tape-based archive and growing video assets. When the new Major League Baseball Network (MLBN) was conceived, it became a renewed priority, and with the addition of this new broadcast entity, the challenge was even greater.The digital asset management system had to be cost-effective and accommodate each of the MLB entities and their various workflows. Moreover, the solution had to encompass a state-of-the-art HD production and distribution facility with shared resources to achieve each business requirement.
After investigating numerous avenues, it became clear that no off-the-shelf offerings solved MLB’s myriad needs. Instead, a system was developed that integrates current, proven technologies — broadcast, production, digitization, editing — with custom-developed software to create one unified solution.
Time was a factor, and after more than six months of planning, integration and custom software development, the DIAMOND (Digitized Industry Assets Managed Optimally for Networked Distribution) system was launched in January 2009. Employing a cross-platform solution with several servers on the backend for redundancy and more than 16 logging workstations, DIAMOND was to be MLB’s system for finding the proverbial “diamond in the rough” when searching, retrieving and repurposing content on a daily basis.
This logging, search and retrieval system interfaces closely with Grass Valley shared storage, an Aurora HD news editing platform and K2 media servers; Apple Final Cut Pro workstations; and a variety of other systems, including the Nesbit MLS, Vizrt graphics (controlled by Reality Check Studio) and in-studio scoreboards and displays. Leveraging a sophisticated ingest solution that brings video feeds from each ballpark into K2 encoders with the Aurora platform to manage the audio and video assets, DIAMOND embraces a range of content, including live game coverage, press conferences, field interviews and melts. Access to MLBP’s vast historical archives is accessible through the system.
Going well beyond raw video footage, the detail of every pitch and result is recorded into the system live through a robust logging interface that tags a specific piece of video to an event via time codes. This is accomplished with MLB.com stringers, located at each game, that send pitch-by-pitch and play-by-play information back to Secaucus, where MLBP loggers marry the data with the game video in the DIAMOND Logger system. Additional descriptive/color information (craft logging) is added by these loggers to embrace the moment of the event in greater detail. On average, several hundred events — above and beyond the pitch-by-pitch metadata — are logged per game.
DIAMOND enables content to be searched, viewed and retrieved quickly by editing systems, speeding the editing of highlights and segments that need to be sent to air quickly, sometimes less than 30 seconds after a play has occurred. The system has proven to be an invaluable tool to multiple MLB entities mostly because its flexible architecture takes an enterprise-level approach to solving a greater problem that is not just specific to studio production.
New studio technology – network
Submitted by Grass Valley
MLB Network: Tony Petitti, president and CEO; Mark Haden, VP – eng. and IT; Tab Butler, dir. – media management
Major League Baseball Productions: David Gavant, VP – exec. production; Elizabeth Scott, VP - programming and business affairs; Jason Akira Jhung - logging supervisor
Major League Baseball – Office of the Commissioner: Peter Surhoff – VP IT ops and tech. support; Mike Morris – VP IT application development; Padraic Boyle, business relationship mgr.
Technology at work
Apple: Final Cut Pro edit platforms
Grass Valley: Aurora HD editing platform, K2 HD media servers
Nesbit Systems: MLS tape library software
Reality Check Studios: Data processing software and intelligent interface
Vizrt: Graphic systems