ITV and Cinegy Post Production Workflow at The London Studios

ITV is the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster, with a family of channels watched by more than 80% of the population every week. ITV has the most successful commercial family of channels in the UK. Towering over the Thames River in the centre of London you will find ITV’s main production studios, aptly named The London Studios (TLS). Although the facilities are owned by ITV plc they are rented to many independent production companies. In 2007 ITV decided they needed a new system to speed up the production of programmes at TLS, either for ITV or other broadcasters.

itv logo “We have a powerful production tool which allows you to search, select and view rushes then log and add descriptions to selected shots. It also has timeline editing functionality helping to reduce offline edit time, therefore costs.”
A New Tapeless System with Cinegy

Cinegy was introduced to help create a modern digital workflow, in so doing, removing the inefficiencies in their existing tape-based process. The post production workflow has been completely transformed for productions using Cinegy. With a new system in place TLS are now able to convert incoming content into digital files, creating digital media assets that can be stored and retrieved from a central library. This tapeless process increased the volume of material that could be easily searched, cataloged and edited, and the speed with which this could be achieved. Naturally saving time, meant saving money. Cinegy software is now an integral part of the TLS post production workflow and is promoted on their website to attract business for the studios.

What is Cinegy Workflow?

Cinegy Workflow is a collaborative, fully-integrated software solution ideally suited to TV production. It provides a complete framework for managing every aspect of production—ingest, logging, creative editorial, editorial finishing and delivery—while preserving and providing immediate access to essential metadata at every point along the way. Cinegy Workflow provides seamless integration with Avid and Final Cut Pro editing systems without the need to re-digitize media. Its unique commodity workflow architecture facilitates simultaneous access to data in multiple formats—producers can access proxies even as editors work with the same assets in high resolution format. Cinegy Workflow delivers dramatic time and cost savings, boosts quality and results in a more satisfying process for everyone involved.

Every aspect of production is available in Cinegy Workflow. Including real-time media ingest in multiple quality levels, automatic shot detection, speech recognition, advanced logging, production notes, voice annotation, rights management, digital asset management, search and retrieval, sequencing, storyboarding, full feature non-linear editing, workgroup collaboration, remote screening, conform and playout.

How is Cinegy Workflow used at TLS?

1. INGEST - TLS have 10 Cinegy Ingest stations. Here tapes and files are captured and added to the Cinegy Archive database, using efficient costsaving MPEG2 long-GOP and web quality.

2. ARCHIVE - TLS have a multi-database system held on their clustered Cinegy Archive using inexpensive commodity IT storage. Multiple formats are stored on the centralized databases.

3. DESKTOP CLIENT - Cinegy Desktop is currently installed on more than 60 desktop systems at TLS. This is the production tool where users can perform search, browse, log, storyboard, rough cut, work with the timeline, and add metadata.

4. INTEGRATION WITH OTHER SYSTEMS - Cinegy Convert is used extensively for performing a range of background tasks automatically.

  • On ingest material is moved into Avid Storage automatically with Cinegy Convert; almost all captured rushes in Cinegy are moved into Avid this way. TLS have, on average, around 35 Avid Media Composer suites being serviced by the Cinegy system.
  • Convert is also used to auto ingest media originated from a number of file based workflows before being presented to Cinegy. In many cases making use of the optional metadata fi le in order to populate the archive with pre-existing metadata.
  • Web formats are generated via Cinegy Convert for remote staff reviewing work in progress.

Real-time Ingest in Multiple Formats

Typically, a high-volume show will come to The London Studios and want to get access to their content as soon as possible. This content can arrive as simple Mini-DV through to Digibeta and XDCAM, along with a collection of different video file formats, all of which must be quickly imported into Cinegy through the SDI ingest system or Cinegy Convert transcoding service. The first benefi t realized with Cinegy happens already at this earliest point – within seconds of content starting to roll into the managed disk system, content is available for review or logging at any Cinegy-enabled desktop in the ITV building; the process of bringing the TV program together has started already.

Collaborative Search, Browse, Logging Begins Using powerful tools, some of which were designed in co-operation with staff from TLS, logging can progress as quickly as media can enter the system. Thanks to the multi-user environment that is part-and-parcel of a Cinegy deployment, all users - with the correct permissions - can start to work with that material. Anyone who has worked in productions with large shooting ratios will understand the benefits of a capable logging system, and the search tools required to get the most out of that data, but Cinegy is used at TLS for shows with some of the largest volumes (and highest viewing figures) in the UK; and in this environment, good enough just doesn’t cut it.

Advanced Editing in the Cinegy Desktop

Timeline Adding the ability to push beyond simple logging and bring the offline process out of the edit suite and onto the desktop gives Cinegy the edge over other systems. The simple yet powerful integrated timeline has helped enable producers to craft their stories quickly and easily, saving on time spent working on the more complex (and expensive) craft-edit process. Sending output from that timeline for render with just a drag-and-drop, customers at TLS can choose to output their content to a secure FTP for 3rd party review. Using Cinegy Convert server as the render engine for this process, the post production staff have already done the work of configuring appropriate settings, leaving just the choice of where to set their output target and walk away – another benefit of a centralized system where media and sequences are never stuck on a single workstation.

Cinegy Convert for Integration with Third Party NLE

Of course, all this work in the Cinegy system would be for nothing if there was no way to integrate with other post-production steps along the route to broadcast, and it is here that TLS have been at the cutting edge of the innovations Cinegy have made in providing tools for transfer to Avid. Since the inception of the Cinegy system at TLS, the post production staff have always focused on the requirement to meet different customers’ needs; to push content into whatever format they need to get their material to wherever they need it. As such, TLS worked closely with Cinegy to develop what is now the finely-tuned craft-edit integration that ships as part of the Cinegy Workflow suite. Depending on requirements, content is either captured into Cinegy in the final broadcast resolution, or a ‘15:1’ proxy is used and later conformed to the broadcast resolution.

“We have been able to use Cinegy not just as a richly featured production tool, but as a crucial element in our post workflows. As well as moving media into Avid, Cinegy’s handling of different file types for capture and export have helped to fulfill many other integration requirements. In addition, the use of the system for catch-up TV editing has allowed us to benefit even further from our investment.”

Paul Drewett (Technology Consultant (Production) – Innovation & Business Change – ITV)

Stable, Reliable and Flexible

Working on a demanding shoot requires software that can stand up under pressure, and along with the strong feature set, the Cinegy systems’ track record of rock-solid stability has helped make TLS one of the most in-demand post houses in London. Not just used for high-volume shoots or reality shows, the Cinegy system is also used for current affairs and factual productions – programs that often have the tightest deadlines and turnaround time. With the latest estimate being that some 12,000 hours of content have passed through the Cinegy system in the last two years, it pays to pick a system that has a track record of reliable transfer out to external systems.

Beyond Post Production

Having become experts themselves in what Cinegy can provide for a broadcaster, TLS also leverage the Cinegy system for usage beyond the normal post-house operations. Since launching, the Cinegy system has been used as the acquisition and re-purposing system for the ITV catch-up TV platform. Cinegy is used to capture a typical 80 hours of finished programs a week, which are edited to add straps, remove irrelevant sections or cover over competition telephone numbers. This is then exported as a single IMX50 file as a delivery format upstream of viewers.

Facts and Figures

Main Production Database  

  • Approximately 68 productions have been using Cinegy in the past 2 years
  • Genres include: Factual (documentary), Factual Entertainment, and Entertainment.
  • Each production ranges from single 1 hour programmes, to 13 part series.
  • Estimate of total finished TX on air time is about 300 hours
  • Estimate of total number of hours of rushes material is about 12,000 hours

Catch-Up TV (VOD editing) Database

  • Typically 80 hours of finished programmes per week edited on Cinegy to add stings, remove end of parts, cover PRTS competition telephone numbers, etc.
  • Full Broadcast resolution, with file export as a single fl attened file at IMX50
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