At the end of 2007, WFTV-DT, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, FL, prepared to automate the news production process. The top priority was to maintain and improve live news production. Continuing the station’s longtime ratings domination of the central Florida market was, and is, a critical factor.
Tapping the experience of nine Cox Media Group sister stations already deployed, WFTV installed a Grass Valley Ignite automated news production system. It’s now on the air in HD, producing all news and live-to-server content through the system. Breaking news and last-minute changes are more consistent and significantly faster to air because a single person is driving a purpose-built control room. The Ignite HD system deployed includes 3M/Es and 32 control ports, and is scalable from 24 to 96 video inputs and audio inputs. The compact control room system features an integrated Grass Valley Kayak HD video switcher, and an audio mixer simplifies traditional production techniques. External camera robotics and graphics are also integrated at the station.
WFTV also has a growing Internet presence. Its Web site is the top broadcast Web site in central Florida. Helping to maintain and grow this online lead, this year the station installed a Grass Valley MediaFUSE content repurposing and multidistribution system, which allows the staff to produce content once and have it appear both on TV and on the Internet, simultaneously when required. MediaFUSE includes a full suite of automated software tools that — since it was deployed in April 2009 — has allowed the station to increase the amount of content available on its site and interact more fully with its audience.
A significant benefit of the system becomes apparent after-hours. Producers and Ignite directors can easily post fresh video to the Web using integrated plug-ins to their NRCS. WFTV also uses Ignite with MediaFUSE to expand coverage by automatically producing extended weekend sports content exclusively to the Web. The combination of both automated production and distribution systems helps WFTV streamline the labor- and time-intensive processes of editing, encoding and streaming over the air, while simultaneously developing and transmitting long-form content for the Internet. The station can deliver existing or live content in a matter of minutes — complete with metadata, URL links and advertising categorization. The MediaFUSE system gives the station the ability to stream over-the-air shows live, complete with alternate commercial breaks while fully realizing the potential and profitability of repurposing and syndicating localized content. This system also benefits sister station WRDQ-TV, also in Orlando, as WRDQ airs several hours of live news each day using the same system.
WFTV and WRDQ maintained and then improved the technical quality of the news product with the Ignite/MediaFUSE system. These days every person-hour has to count. Now the Orlando stations better tap their most important resource — their people. A direct benefit to the news operation came when six of the staff transferred directly from production into the news department. It’s a successful model many other stations are sure to follow.
Submitted by Grass Valley
WFTV: John Demshock, dir. of eng.; Chip Reif, eng. mgr.; Dave Sirak, news ops mgr.; Michael Vivona, eng. supervisor; Jennifer Kearns, sr. dir.; Tim Aldinger, dir.; Bryce Layman, eng. ops mgr.
Technology at work
Grass Valley: Ignite HD automated production system, MediaFUSE content repurposing and multidistribution system