2005 EBU Training France 2 digital newsroom


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2005 EBU Training France 2 digital newsroom

  1. 1. EBU International Training Cross-disciplinary project Digital newsrooms: thematic visit Visit to France 2, France Télévisions Paris, 10 – March 2005 Report Introduction During the autumn 2004, France 2 News completed the switch-over of its newscasts to digital production : following the morning edition (Télématin) and the night edition which had moved to digital production in June, the mid-day edition "le 13h" and the evening edition "le 20h" became "digital" in October. 1 France 2 corporate project 1.1 Background Launched in 2000, the "Evolution of the newscast-making process" project, i.e. the digitization of the newscast production, has nearly involved 700 staff members. As it was stressed by Christopher Baldelli, General Director of France 2, France 2 top management made sure that " the project was neither an IT- driven project nor a Technical project nor a News department project but a France 2 project". This corporate approach was largely inspired by the technical and human lessons drawn from the acquisition in 1998 by France 2 of its first server. 1.2 Objectives The primary objective of the project was to provide the news department with more efficient tools to handle and broadcast News better and faster. In addition, the new digitized system was designed to ensure optimized newscasts security. In order to achieve this result, the following steps were identified: Increase: o the capacity of the central server (from 20 hrs to 750 hours); o the recording possibilities (up to 12 channels and 4 unilateral recording channels) o ensure perfect coordination between the programme continuity and the playout; o eventually cut down on tapes. Create new workstations for journalists through a customized portal with an integrated search engine "Autonomy" Ensure that all users are able to preview images from each workstation Gradually move towards a centralized archiving system 1.3 Approach The project was developed and then implemented keeping in line with the following principles: 1.3.1 An in-depth study of existing solutions France 2 committed time and resources to the study of available and tested technical solutions with the support of a consulting firm and through several visits to foreign TV newsrooms. As the project developed, all the staff involved in the upcoming changes was kept informed of the developments and made familiar with the issue. 1.3.2 Permanent information channels & regular communication. A variety of joint committees and working groups were created to ensure proper coordination between the different departments involved throughout the project: Project Steering committee (representatives of all departments involved); EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 3 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  2. 2. Newsroom workflow group (editorial staff, technical services and IT); User working-groups; Training committee; In addition, regular meetings were organized throughout the development and implementation of the project: Management information meetings Department information meetings on training courses & workflow changes Transversal presentations with all potential users (journalists, technical staff, editors, media researchers & archivists) to provide status report and answer questions. In parallel, discussions and negotiations were engaged with trade unions to deal with new job profiles. A Union follow-up committee was set up to provide on a regular basis status reports on the project. 1.3.3 Give oneself time As summarized by Bernard Couhault, Editor in chief and Manager of the France 2 News Management project, "we did not have a calendar, we had objectives". France 2 gave itself the time to choose the technical solutions and to train the staff: Newscast switch-overs were postponed several times in order to ensure the success of the overall project. Tests and trial newscasts lasted from February 2004 until the final switch over on October 2004. 1.3.4 Adaptive training To ensure a succesful transition to the new system, France 2 started training or re-training its staff, as the project itself was being developed, to support the implementation of the project The training plan extended over two years and consisted of nearly 40 different training modules Nearly 700 staff members went through training at one point or another; The training plan was reviewed and updated in terms of content and target as the project implementation went on and new workflows were introduced; The Training plan covered addressed different needs: o update on technological developments o new tools and applications o new working methods o re-profiling staff whose traditional tasks were transfered to other positions; e.g.: production assistants whose work rested on tapes and images search - a job which is now performed by researchers or journalists - were retrained to become journalists, researchers or editors. 2 The technical platform 2.1 System Architecture & tools The France 2 Digital Newsroom system implements the following functions (see the Block Diagram - Annex 2). 2.1.1 Acquisition This is the operational unit, which receives: The "wires" of numerous press agencies (AFP, Reuters, …) Via 12 transmission channels: o the video feeds provided by the EBU (Eurovision News Exchange) - including CLA (Current Life Actuality: live coverage of a planned or breaking news event) and CLP (Current Life Paying: live coverage of a planned event, aimed at both news and other broadcast services, e.g. religious programmes) - and by the agencies Reuters and APTN (Associated Press Television News); o the "external" links provided by external sources such as sports outside broadcasting, foreign broadcasters, Parliament House debates, … o the "unilateral" links with France 2 correspondents abroad (10) or in the French regions EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 4 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  3. 3. (9), and with France 2 reporters pool (including Digital Satellite News Gathering links); o the reception of the News, "live", of other TV networks; The tapes (Betacam SX) brought back from shooting: their contents will make up, with the "unilateral" links, about 70% of the France 2 Newscast; The tapes (Betacam SX) coming from the Archives and beforehand digitized. 2.1.2 Storage & Media Server There are four different storage levels: All the news items acquired, or locally processed and edited, are first stored in an Avid Unity for News server. This "high"-definition (HR) central server stores on magnetic disks 700 to 750 hours of media in the DVCPRO25 format (standard definition video with a bit-rate reduced to 25 Mbit/s); 1 "Near-On-Line" (NOL) "high"-definition server, Avid Nearchive, stores on magnetic disks about 500 hours of media (also in the DVCPRO25 format), and is dedicated to the "Stock" (longer-term storage); 1 low-definition (LR) unit stores 1200 hours of media on magnetic disks the media in the MPEG-1 format ("compressed"video with a bit-rate reduced to 1 Mbit/s), and is dedicated to Media Browse; the last storage level consists of Betacam SX tapes on the shelves of the Archives. 2.1.3 Processing and Editing The following tools allow the making of the News: 14 editing rooms equipped with Avid NewsCutter. 2 audio mixing studios equipped with the Fairlight console, which was already used by the sound engineers, although there are some interoperability problems with Avid Unity. Pro Tools from Digidesign, a division of Avid, may have been a better choice (the in-house sister company France 3, uses Publison). 2 Computer Graphics units: 6 Apple Macintosh (Adobe Suite Software) + 3 Quantel PaintBox + 2 DPS Station witch Curious Software + 1 Avid NewsCutter XP used as a bridge to input video from Computer Graphics station into the Unity server. 1 Post-Production Information unit (News Post-Production): 1 NewsCutter Adrenaline + 1 NewsCutter XP. 2.1.4 Playout The files are stored in 2 SGI (Silicon Graphis Inc.) Broadcast servers Origin 300, the Main one on-air and the other one as back-up, each storing 22 hours. The news playout is controlled by the in-house developped GILDA conducteur (playlist + News Room Control System), through the automation software (DBOS Automation News from the French company SGT). 2.2 The media flow The media items are acquired in different formats: MPEG-2 Transport Stream 8 Mb/s for the EVN, 5 Mb/s for the agencies APTN and Reuters, Betacam SX for the rushes shot. They are then converted into the DVCPRO25 format for storage through the AirSpace server baseband SDI input interface. In the central Unity "high"-definition server are stored: "fresh" News rushes (30 % of the storage capacity) and agencies news (for 72 hours), thematic illustration files (e.g., train station pictures), journalists' personal files. In the Nearchive "high"-definition server are stored: News already broadcasted (since June 2004), prepared "strategic" thematic files (the Pope, Bin Laden, …), selected rushes which are indexed and edited end-to-end by the Archives librarians. All the agencies News items and the broadcasted News items are converted in parallel into the low- definition MPEG-1 format. Not all the "high"-definition storage content is converted into low-definition; a conversion from "high" to low definition, of the rushes acquired in the NewsCutter, must be trigerred manually. The "PAD" media ("Prêt A Diffuser" = item ready to be brodcasted) are transferred from the central Unity server to the SGI Main Broadcast server 1 and then copied into the Back-up Broadcast server 2. End 2005 there will be a permanent link between the central HR Unity server and this Back-up server 2; presently, this direct link is only used if the link to the Main Broadcast server 1 breaks. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 5 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  4. 4. 2.3 The metadata Metadata is any "information that makes media data useful". Metadata are generated at two stages: During the acquisition process, the journalists in charge of international exchanges mark out the selected parts of the incoming News items with a Time Code and complements the dopesheet information; then two "Media Researchers" (also named documentalists or librarians) fully analyse and index in detail (at the shot level) each News item (see Annex 3). Before archiving, the Media Researchers index the broadcasted News, select and index the rushes. 2.4 Positive and/or negative implementation key factors In relation to the external partners (contractors, suppliers): (+) the division of the project into blocks, better for scheduling and for progressive payment of the suppliers; (+) the reciprocal builded trust and the strong client commitment (inducing the contractor/supplier's own commitment), with a weekly meeting of the common technical committee; (+) the workflow design with the France 2 project team and its good knowledge of the TV environment and processes; (-) the lack of a network supervision software (SNMP, Simple Network Management Protocol); (-) insufficient prevention against viruses and worms infection; (-) the insufficient knowledge and expertise of the Engineering department team in IP (Internet Protocol) networks; (+ & -) The automation software supplier (SGT) offered a custom development with plenty of bugs at the start, but which now proved to be robust, bug-free. Compared to the main contractor Avid, who offered a Plug-and-Play solution, which now proved to be fragile, with the 10 % of remaining bugs being left unsolved. In relation to the News Department (the User): (+) Having one single Technical & IT teams' representative when dealing with the user. (+) Taking into account the evolution of the needs and adapting the workflow (and accepting to face criticism on versatility). (+) Being open and transparent on bugs and difficulties. During the installation phase: (+) Coexistence of the old and of the new system. (+) Dialogue with the operators (+) The debriefing, following the making of and the newcast trials, was the best tool for debugging. 2.5 Security procedures Acquisition: France 2 produces 70 % of the News it broadcasts; so it does not rely so heavily on other feeds. Editing and Post-Production: the original rushes are kept on cassettes; the EditDecision Lists are kept on the local disks of the workstations (the lists stay but are not kept); the editor produces a back-up cassette for the gallery. Playout: the back-up playout server can be switched on during the Newscast (manually by two separate supervisors); cassettes can be used in case of extreme emergency. 2.6 Evolution The 1st evolution will be to directly acquire media files and to ingest them into the Unity server by using: o DVonSAT, a system which allows to capture, compress (into DV format) and transmit images direct to broadcasters (equipped with the soft for reception, DVonSAT server); o Sony XDCAM camcorder, with the high-capacity Blu-ray Disk, recording video and audio in DVCAM or MPEG IMX (MPEG-2 4:2:2) format, and in parallel a low-definition MPEG-4 stream. Better integration of the 4 existing databases, respectively associated to the Unity central server, to the Nearchive server, to the Media Browse, and to the journalists' Portal (see § 3.2). The parallel media transfer to both SGI playout servers (see § 2.2 + Annex 2). Giving up the A output - to - B output switching at the playout server (inherited of the Betacart cassette playout system). Improving the interface between the Quantel Computer Graphics workstations and the Unity central server. Nowadays one has to go through a baseband SDI; a file transfer would be better. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 6 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  5. 5. 3 The Making of the News process 3.1 The "workflow" We define in this report the workflow as the suite of tasks being managed. The France 2 Newsroom work process is divided into the following stages and tasks: Acquisition & Ingest: o Planning the recording of the EVN and of the AV agencies News feeds, by the journalists in charge of international exchanges (see Annex 3-1) The recording of the EVN is a recurrent activity which is planned every 6 months at the summer/winter time (DST) change-over; it is not planned on a daily basis. Planning of unilateral links and outside incoming feeds, by the Booking Office (Bureau des Commandes)All the requested links are taken into account by the Switching Room (nodal) on the input of the Media Browse or the Unity server.Booking of the server space by the PC-AT technicians (Point Central Actualités Télévisées).Visual check of all captured items. Analyzing, derushing, indexing: o Marking out each incoming News item from UER or agencies by a Time Code, and adding short descriptive information (journalists in charge of international exchanges) o Describing the pictures and indexing the News items (see Annex 3-2) and rushes (Media Researchers) o Deciding on storing (journalists); ingesting into the storage system (PC-AT) Browsing, researching, selecting (see Annex 3-3): o Visualize all media available on the file directory of the Unity central serverSearching and retrieving media items with the Autonomy's search engineSelecting pictures and making up an Edit Decision List for high resolution editing Playout (see Annex 3-4): o Managing in real time the playout of the newscastOverviewing the different stages of the making of the news items, produced for the next newscast o Validating the news items from both a technical (PC-AT) and an editorial standpoint (chief editor) o Synchronizing the playout list with the playout serverVisualizing the status of each News item during the on-air broadcast. 3.2 The users' tools and interfaces The users have access to the workflow tasks through some of a suite of applications and interfaces: ACQUISITION, GILDA, SERVEUR, RECHERCHE, PERSO, APPLICATIONS, ADMIN (see Annex 3). GILDA is a News management system (gestion informatisée du lancement des actualités), developped and first implemented at the end of 1997. There are: GILDA Dépêches (news agencies wires), GILDA Agences (AV agencies), GILDA Conducteur (playout) and even GILDA Prompteur (teleprompter for the News anchorman/woman). All these applications are interfaced to the Digital media servers and associated databases. The journalists have a specific Portal (Annex 3-5), which gives them access: To the the entire IT system: o GILDA applications on line; o Playout list (conducteur); o Media items available in low definition (MPEG-1), either immediately available in the MediaBrowse server, or after a conversion (Scavenge) from "high" definition (DVCPRO25) in low definition. o A private storage space "Perso", with his own files, including the rushes he produced (in Low Resolution). To all available "Applications" (Internal and external applications needed by the users: intranet, audience measures, Word, Excel etc…..) EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 7 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  6. 6. 4 New professions, competences and functions The implementation of the the digitization project led to the creation of new jobs or the re-profiling of previously exiting jobs: while the position of the Media Manager was created from scratch, other positions such as the one of the Media researcher has been deeply transformed. 4.1 The media manager 4.1.1 Who are they? - Journalists Two of them are senior journalists. The other three were trained on the job. Previously they were respectively chief editor, edition assistant and sound engineer. - He/She is an essential interface between News (on behalf of all journalists and film editors) and the engineering and IT departments. - 5 Media Managers work in shifts to cover a daily presence from 8:00 until 22:00, every day of the week. 4.1.2 Role and responsibilities Responsible for the content of the server The Media Manager’s first task is to be responsible for the content of the server. He oversees the creation of thematic files as well as the proper organization of purges of the server media files. He/She therefore keeps close control over filing of recorded media for the News Department’s needs. In that capacity, he works in close cooperation with: o the System Technical Administrator (STA): together, they create and manage rights for “projects” and “catalogues” for rapid access to recorded media. o the “Média PC-AT”, responsible for central recording team (reception of material from external sources): together with the PCAT engineers, the Media Manager defines the correct title for media and classification into “projects” and “catalogues”. Manual purges are also carried out in coordination with them. Staff in charge of the computer tools for the applications used around the server. o the picture researchers of the Media Library: together they anticipate the needs of News department for archive pictures. o the journalists in International Exchanges (EVN): together they decide on EVN, REUTERS, APTN acquisition (as well as CLA and CLP), to be recorded in the UNITY server, the necessary capacity and their storage duration. o the news staff: the Media Manager also manages “files” created by news staff in the UNITY server. File items are edited by news staff and film editors for deferred broadcast. The material which constitutes these files is protected from purging until editing, mixing and often broadcast are completed. Publishing assistant o for the "13h" and "20h" editions and on week-end o The Media Manager monitors the newscast from the editorial conference on to the end of the broadcast. o The Media Manager monitors publication to ensure that 70% of the titles of the incoming media are accessible to users, whether rushes or complete news items from France 2 provincial or foreign offices. o The Media Manager is able to list the material and items in the server used to produce the news programme, and for this purpose he monitors the media from the input into the server until storage as well as archiving or final elimination from the UNITY server. o He also provides support to the editor-in-chief and the journalists: during the production stages he is able to assist the journalist and film editor in searching for material in the server needed to produce a news item. Researcher The Media Manager is responsible for creating thematic files or “Thémas”, i.e. :from pictures fed in from outside sources (EVN or agencies, pool, event coverage or foreign networks, e.g. tsunami in Asia), and of course informs users that this type of file exists. With the Media Library picture researchers, from archives according to wishes expressed in editorial conference, or in preparation for event coverage (e.g. Auschwitz anniversary, trials or obituaries of personalities). EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 8 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  7. 7. 4.2 The Media Researcher 4.2.1 Who are they? - One of the core novelties of France 2 project lies in the new role given to the profession of Media Researcher. In this perspective, the Media Researcher has gone from being an "archivist" with a conservation and video/photo archives management role, to being a News/Current Affairs Researcher. They now work alongside the journalists as they are in charge of gathering all the elements needed for making the newscast (agency subjects, rushes, etc). - The staff at the media library has grown from 12 to 21. The media library service is open from 5 AM to 9 PM with sliding shift hours so as to give the journalists a bigger flexibility and longer opening hours. On every ordinary day, the Media Library staff is organized in order to meet the following needs: o 5 researchers at the Media Library. o 2 researchers at EVN. o 2 researchers to index the "13:00" and "20:00" Newscasts. o 1 researcher to index the rushes. o 1 researcher on stand-by and anticipate news files o 1 researcher On Air in order to take care of researching the photos o 2 researchers dedicated to the "Télématin" Show: 1 for image research, and 1 for On Air and press reviews Staff is reduced on weekends 4.2.2 Role & responsibilities Information retrieval From now on journalists directly call upon the centralised media library for any information research. The production assistants will concentrate on making the news item and following it up until its broadcast. The archived items are digitized if they are not on the server, and made available in a special catalogue for editing. Indexing the News bulletins Media researchers index the newscast immediately following its broadcast Selecting and indexing subject items from the agencies The archiving policy has been extended so as to take into account immediate news on a short or longer term basis, and primary needs from the newsroom. Researchers no longer process the picture on its own, but the whole news item and newscast. Selecting and indexing the rushes The elements filmed by journalists for news reports processing is made available almost immediately. The sequences to be kept are selected on low resolution and then exported into the archives temporary catalogue (NOL) and then onto tape. The indexing is made on the "INFOS FRANCE2" portal, with precise notes of each sequence. 4.3 Other new or partially re-profiled jobs 4.3.1 Technical system administrator He is the technical alter ego of the Media manager, in charge of the technical management of all server systems. 4.3.2 Media Central Point Administrator The job of broadcast technician has developed to a position of overall responsibility over technical management content. He is in charge of acquisition and broadcasting. MCP Administrators have technical competencies on purges, on consolidation and catalogue creation. 4.3.3 News exchange coordinators They now work in teams with researchers in the same space. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 9 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  8. 8. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 10 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  9. 9. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 11 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  10. 10. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 12 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  11. 11. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 13 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  12. 12. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 14 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  13. 13. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 15 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  14. 14. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 16 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  15. 15. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 17 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005
  16. 16. EBU International Training / Hélène RAUBY-MATTA & Jean-Noël GOUYET 18 Thematic Visit : France 2 Digital Newsroom / 10 - 11 March 2005