MCTV uses three AJ-HPX2100 AVC-Intra P2 HD Camera Recorders.
Matsusaka CATV Station Co., Ltd. (MCTV, Matsusaka City,Mie Prefecture) began HD broadcasting for its community channels in March 2009. Along with this, the company also initiated a project to promote tapeless operation. By adopting the AVC-Intra 50 codec as a standard video format, MCTV was able to construct a tapeles network system using the P2 HD Series throughout -- from field recording to editing, studio recording and archiving.
Doing away with tape to achieve a simpler workflow
MCTV started HD broadcasting ahead of other stations in Mie Prefecture, which has Japan’s highest level of CATV diffusion. In the HD broadcast project, the company focused on replacing conventional DV-tape-based systems and constructing a totally tapeless network and workflow.
Toshitaka Sugimoto, assistant general manager of the Production Department, who spearheaded the HD broadcast project, recalls the process of format selection.
"When the HD Broadca st Research Committee was established within the Production Department in June 2007, all members agreed that a tapeless system was a must for nextgeneration broadcasting. So, our next step was to compare formats. We collected information, for example, by visiting other stations to see their systems, and concluded that Panasonic's AVC-Intra format offered both superior image quality and highly efficient transmission. The Panasonic system would let us use a single format throughout -- from field recording to transmission and archiving, and this was a key point in our AVC-Intra selection. In some stations, we saw a great deal of time and effort being spent to transfer data and convert file formats. We quickly realized the advantage of a simple workflow based on only the AVC-Intra format."
Key factors in the AVC-Intra 50 selection:High transfer speeds and superb image quality
MCTV chose AVC-Intra 50 for use in all of its processes. "After debating whether to go with AVC-Intra 50 or AVC-Intra 100, which offered higher image quality, we opted for AVC-Intra 50. With 50 Mbps, AVC-Intra 50 offers both sufficient data transfer speeds and excellent image quality." (Mr. Sugimoto)
MCTV’s service area includes Shima City, which is not geographically adjacent to Matsusaka City. Because of this unique characteristic, MCTV’s Shima Center produces original programs that differ from those broadcast by MCTV’s main station. Each station does its own field recording and editing. The distribution center at the main station handles distribution for both stations through two transmission systems. This made the speed of transmitting finishing data from Shima to Matsusaka another important criterion in the format selection.
For field recording, MCTV uses three AJ-HPX2100 AVCIntra P2 HD Camera Recorders. It also uses another brand of compact tapeless camera for everyday news gathering. The reason for using the other camera brand is that there was no compact AVC-Intra model when MCTV introduced AVC-Intra into its operations. This means that the company presently uses two formats in field recording, but it converts the other format to AVC-Intra at the editing stage to simplify the workflow downstream. MCTV has five Thomson Canopus HDWS-3500 Nonlinear Editing Systems in the main station and three systems in the Shima substation. The company also operates a source material server and maintains the same specifications in all of its editing systems to ensure that all work environments are identical. For instance, changes in edited video and subtitles can be made with any available editing machine.
This rack-mounted P2 Mobile in the substudio is used to exchange programs with other stations.
The main Matsusaka CATV Station building.
A meeting of the editing staff. Thomson Canopus HDWS-3500 Nonlinear Editing Systems are on the desk in the background.
Control terminal of the transmission/scheduling support system
Low running costs and future expandability into a centrally controlled system
MCTV purchased a total of twenty 64-GB P2 cards and distributed them to its staff members. It also uses P2 cards for exchanging program data with other companies and keeps some as spares. To ensure efficient utilization of the P2 cards, they are initialized and reused as soon as their recorded data is transferred to an editing system. This workflow has also greatly simplified card management. Takuya Maeda, assistant manager of MCTV’s Production Section, told us, "Reusable P2 cards and a five-year free repair warranty help to reduce running costs. The use of P2 cards has also raised our workflow efficiency, as we expected it would. Since recorded data can be transferred to an editing system at high speed, our editing work now starts much faster than before."
The new studio recording equipment is connected to editing systems over a network. Once a scheduling chart and EPG data are produced by a transmission/scheduling support system, the data is reliably transmitted from the transmission server.
After TV programs are broadcast, their data is automatically archived onto Blu-ray Discs, and all the equipment is centrally controlled by the transmission/scheduling support system. These systems were installed by Panasonic.
MCTV is now looking into the prospect of expanding its centrally controlled system in the future for archival broadcasting, data broadcasting, and digital archiving for its existing tape library.