Avid Updates Newsroom, Storage Systems

Editing and storage supplier Avid has updated several of its flagship news production products. The vendor has created a new interface for its iNews newsroom computer system, improved third-party support for its iNews Command automation product, and introduced a number of new features for its high-end Unity ISIS storage systems, including the option of lower-cost RAID 6 media protection.

According to Jim Frantzreb, Avid senior segment manager for broadcast, the product improvements are aimed at providing broadcasters with greater interoperability with third-party products as they look to manage their costs. Also important to broadcasters, Frantzreb says, are improved agility for faster newsgathering and better image quality for HD production.

“In our customers' business environment, it's imperative to take a very sharp look at cost,” he notes. “Broadcasters have to ensure they're running the most efficient production operation they can. So they're asking for openness, and they want to make sure they're getting as much interoperability as they can. ”

In that vein, the latest version of Avid's newsroom computer system, iNews 3.0, has a Web services API (application program interface) that allows stations to integrate third-party systems such as groupware or automation with the iNews platform to access and modify news content. For example, a content management system could access news scripts through iNews and then repurpose them for posting on a station's Website, or a weather provider could automatically feed updates into iNews.

“It's a rich set of functions for third parties to interface with iNews and exchange data,” Frantzreb says. He adds that since Avid made a similar API available for its Interplay asset management product this summer, there have been more than 65 integrations with third-party providers.

Avid's iNews Command, the software product that controls devices like servers based on the iNews rundown, now has support for third-party graphics systems such as Chyron in addition to Avid's Deko graphics systems. Avid has also developed a graphics SDK (software development kit)/API that allows any vendor of character generators, logo inserters, tickers and branding applications to build plug-ins that will interface with iNews Command.

“A video server and graphics devices can be controlled from a single workstation, which gives additional efficiency in the control for the broadcaster,” says Pam Gill, Avid segment marketing specialist for newsroom and automation.

While the Web services API and iNews Command upgrades are based on back-end software development, Avid had performed a more visible upgrade with an enhancediNews user interface that is designed to simplify navigation. The new interface will let customers preview a QuickTime video from the Interplay system directly in the iNews workstation, associate the video with text and create hyperlinks within iNews stories. The new interface also seeks to standardize the entry of story data using drop-down lists and check-box fields.

“People using iNews now will be completely at home, but they will notice a difference,” Frantzreb explains. “We're also trying to enforce a taxonomy and make people consistent in how they allocate resources for assignments.”

While many large customers of Unity ISIS have achieved redundancy by mirroring their systems, Avid is now offering RAID 6 media protection as a lower-cost storage option for everyday use and for lower-bandwidth applications. RAID 6 provides reliable media protection with 50% more capacity than mirroring, according to Frantzreb.

“ISIS was developed to support high-bandwidth applications” he says. “But there are times you don't need that level of performance; you just need a place to park media for a while. This is a way for ISIS users to immediately save money and use the system more.”

ISIS also has a new File Gateway that allows contributors to store and access content such as graphics, still imagery, text and lower-resolution video in the system from any Windows, Macintosh or Linux workstation, via standard network-attached storage (NAS) protocols.

Avid's AirSpeed Multi Stream server, which was introduced last spring with crucial support for the 50 Mbps Sony XDCAM HD format, also has some new features. These include ingest and playout support for Avid's DNxHD mezzanine HD format at 185 and 220 Mbps, and an IsoSync feature that enables frame-accurate, simultaneous video capture from multiple cameras directly into Avid Unity systems for immediate editing.

“IsoSync can be used for any multi-camera production,” Frantzreb says, “such as a daytime drama, talk show or sporting events, and it makes that turnaround very fast.”

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