RTV Noord, the regional broadcaster for the region of Groningen, is a growing and dynamic company based at the Media Centrale, a refurbished power station in the local capital of Groningen. RTV Noord has a rapidly growing number of viewers, who are consuming an increasing amount of regional viewing hours, especially regional news and information, and who want to see programmes in high quality and with top quality content.
"To achieve this, RTV Noord had the courage to make the switch last New Year’s Eve. DVcam, Beta SP and XDcam were replaced by P2."
Jeroen Mennema said.
Jeroen, who previously worked as project manager at Dutchview, is now heading the Facilities and IT Department at RTV Noord.
RTV’s two TV studios are equipped with a number of LDK 300 cameras in a digital triax configuration with a Kayak video mixer. News (electronic news gathering or ENG) and reports (electronic field productions or EFP), were supplied by an external technical company up to the end of December.
A disadvantage of this type of situation is that all kinds of media carriers circulate in your organisation. These can be tapes, DVs, mini DVs, Digbeta tapes, Beta SP or diskless, XDCAM, Blu-ray, and also the more modern memory cards, such as the Sony SXS and Panasonic’s P2.
We must be able to import, edit, broadcast and archive all this material, however different in form and quality, whether analogue or digital. Often the tapes or disks were unlabelled. This is like having a full file with no title on the cover. The result is that you put the file in a storage cabinet, move it several times and then still throw it away. So information carriers are of no use unless they can be linked to the relevant metadata.
According to Jeroen, this was an unsustainable situation. Since taking over at RTV Noord he has been searching for a tapeless system that would make it possible to streamline RTV Noord production materials using metadata. But that is not all: they must be of high quality. RTV Noord is still supplying and broadcasting in SDI and DV25, but with new investment, attention is being focused on the feasibility of producing in High Definition. The working method selected is as follows. A team or a ‘camjo’ goes on assignment with a memory card labelled with the name of the reporter and the title of the item in the assignment. When the reporter returns, the information on the card is imported via a central reader and a work folder and a backup folder, both containing the metadata, are created on two different RAIDs in a NAS (network-attached storage) facility. When editing, the reporter can select a workstation with NLEs or AVIDs. This is only possible if the metadata for the subject to be edited are the same throughout the entire system, from acquisition to broadcast. We have written dedicated software application for the central reader.
Newsgathering is currently being influenced by another trend. As a reporter, and certainly as a regional broadcaster, you want to build a close relationship with your viewers. Instead of sending a reporter and a cameraman on one assignment, we now send just one man, a camera journalist, otherwise known as a camjo. One benefit is that you can work faster and therefore costs are lower. However, the most important advantage is that, since your presence is rather more modest – just you and your camera – you can meet and interact with people without intimidating them or giving them stage fright. This increases the chance that people will express themselves freely, and creates more space for emotions – an ideal setup if backed up by good quality audio and video. Naturally, besides camjo work, we have ENG/EFP work - scripted drama productions that are recorded under the supervision of a director. A 2/3-inch shoulder camera is ideal for this.
In short, the wish list for our new cameras was clear.
Camjo cameras – light, small, with the best possible quality, supporting both SD and HD
ENG 2/3-inch camera stand/shoulder camera, supporting both SD and HD
Camjo and ENG cameras using the same memory card format
Metadata that is recognised by NAS and NIS
BNC SDI/HDSDI outputs
Codec: not 8-bit 4:2:0, but 10-bit 4:2:2 streaming
Bitstream adjustable with the option of 50 Mbs or more
Appropriate to the station image of RTV Noord
Appropriate to our budget
Discussions were held with various camera suppliers at the latest IBC Exhibition. Selection of the camjo camera was the key to choosing the entire system. This involved lending a number of cameras and recording formats to users, who are naturally expected to work with cameras on a day-to-day-basis, after technical inspection and approval. The user tests revealed that the AG-HPX 171 was the best and most user-friendly camera, and had the benefit of putting high quality equipment into the hands of both reporters and technicians. During the evaluation of the overall workflow it was examined whether it would be possible to use just P2. In view of the requirements this was an ideal and feasible choice.
The AG-HPX171 is a lightweight P2 HD handheld camera with 3x 1/3-inch CCD sensors. It has a 28-mm wide-angle lens with a 13x zoom. It is also fitted with an SDI/HDSDI BNC output and a WFM and VCTSC on the viewfinder LCD screen. This enables easy adjustment and management of camera output.
The AG-HPX500 Camcorder is fitted with 3x 2/3-inch CCD sensors, a filter wheel and a B4 lens bayonet, making it possible to change lenses. It can hold four P2 cards. Its 14-bit D/A, codec and further video processing correspond with AG-HPX171. Both cameras feature progressive-scan CCDs, which allow adjustment of various SD, HD and Film formats. The cameras even have variable shutter and frame rates.
From September to the end of December, a great deal of effort was devoted to setting up a completely new system, with a central reader, NAS and the necessary software. The new team at the brand new technical news department had to get used to handling this kind of equipment, and the reporters had to be trained in camjo work. Thanks to the excellent support provided by Fofic Media Solutions and Panasonic/Haagtechno, we succeeded in making the switch on New Year’s Eve!
Last but not least, the reporters were trained and supervised in camjowork by Geert Verdickt, an experienced cameraman from zanZIEbar Film Productions, a supporter and early adopter of the P2 format.
* The Users Reports provided above is correct as of the time of publication. Note that information such as company and organization names may no longer be correct.