Leitch Speeds Weather Delivery

In an effort to keep ahead of the storm and competition, The Weather Channel has installed a Leitch VR video server system that today drives both its editing and on-air playback.

"Speed is of the essence," says Ross Kabler, The Weather Channel chief engineer. "We can now recut packages in a timely fashion, thanks to a tapeless environment."

At the core of the new workflow are Leitch video servers with 100 hours of storage. The servers are tied in with two Leitch NewsFlash nonlinear editing systems, and Kabler says bigger plans are under way. The network is currently tying its Avid iNews newsroom system into the servers, giving producers and others the ability to browse video on the desktop and, at a minimum, complete rough cuts of stories that can then be sent to the NewsFlash systems for final editing. All told, there will be 12 editing seats when the newsroom system is tied into the server.

"Putting content on the producer's desktop will help in writing the stories, and they can also cut their own content and make it available for airing," says Kabler.

The core server was installed in March, with the editing components added in early May. At that point, the server system wasn't playing directly to air, but that piece was added over the summer. Hurricane Isabelle was a turning point, Kabler says, because the producers realized that they could turn around the stories much more quickly with the nonlinear editors.

"We moved from shadowing the servers to relying on them," he adds. "During the hurricane, 90% of our content was delivered directly onto the server, making it available for editing right away. We were able to get four times as much content on air as usual, and we were turning stuff around as fast we could get it in."