With an ageing broadcast system that had reached the end of its lifecycle, Oman's Ministry of Information roped in systems integrator UBMS for a complete overhaul. BroadcastPro ME goes behind the scenes to explore the technological set-up deployed.
Oman’s Ministry of Information has taken significant strides to modernise its broadcasting capabilities, embracing technological advancement to enhance its media infrastructure. In collaboration with Dubai systems integrator United Broadcast and Media Solutions (UBMS), the ministry has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade its Avid production asset management (PAM) and iNews newsroom computer system (NRCS) at two of its sites in Muscat and Salalah.
After a rigorous and critical evaluation process that began with an RFP in 2017 and only ended early last year, the project was completed in July 2023. Although the project deployment itself took only eight months, it was not without its challenges owing to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, which led to delays in delivering essential infrastructure components such as network switches, Dell servers and client PCs.
Parwaiz Anjum, a consultant with UBMS, led the charge in upgrading and replacing the Avid PAM and iNews NRCS systems. The project’s scope extended to expanding the central apparatus area (CTA) and introducing EVS’ new MediaCeption Signature, a complete end-to-end live production asset management (PAM) solution to replace the existing Avid solution. Additionally, Adobe Premier edits were adopted in place of Avid Media Composer, alongside the implementation of Media Central and new client PCs. Additionally, Adobe Premier edits were adopted in place of Avid Media Composer, alongside the implementation of Media Central and new client PCs. EVS MediaCeption Signature is integrated with the existing Tedial MAM system at the site to achieve the Archive and Restore workflow and send clips from the PAM to the current playout system.
The project’s foundation lay in the modernisation of server, network and hyper-converged infrastructure. Anjum and the SI team oversaw the installation of the latest generation of XS-VIA servers for the EVS PAM and Avid iNews systems. A notable enhancement was the upgrade of the PAM Network backbone to 100G and the edge network to 10G. The collaboration between Adobe NLEs and XS-VIA servers was fortified by a dual 10G network, significantly improving system performance.
An important technical highlight is the new virtual environment, which gives flexibility to add VM instances when required. “VMware vSphere powers the system to virtualise the servers and host multiple virtual machines. While this reduces the rack space and power consumption, it increases the flexibility for the system administrator and gives scalability for future expansion,” explains Anjum.
One major reason for the upgrade was that the existing PAM and NRCS, installed back in 2012, had reached the end of their life. “The legacy system had multiple hardware failures and was no longer supported, so the client decided to replace it with a brand-new solution that offers better workflow and support,” explains Anjum, adding that the team stuck with DNxHD 120, the ministry’s house format.
The EVS PAM and iNews Media Central NRCS systems promise improved workflow and enhanced support, marking a significant departure from the legacy systems. The seamless transfer of media from the old Avid system to the new EVS system, as well as the migration of the iNews database to Media Central, ensures continuity and a smooth transition.
Integral to the project’s success was the comprehensive training provided by the UBMS & EVS teams. Extensive on-site technical and operational training on EVS solutions, Adobe editing and MediaCentral were part of the project deliverables, says Anjum: “Our team conducted trainings for multiple groups and multiple rounds to give more confidence to the operational users and system administrators. Following the training, UBMS was also on-site for further support to the end user.”
The system is going through several dry runs now, and a date has not yet been set for the system to go live.
“Training was the most challenging part of the project. We had run multiple training courses covering each part of the system for a total of 130 days in Muscat and 80 days in Salalah,” explains Anjum. “The end user was able to achieve several key business benefits with this upgrade. For instance, with the upgrade of the server and network infrastructure, the client will see an overall improvement in the equipment’s performance and experience a more efficient workflow. By upgrading the storage infrastructure, the client has more capacity now and will see an enhanced storage performance that allows multiple users to perform the editing. The XS Via servers are futureproof hardware that are capable of being upgraded to IP and or UHD as and when required.” Amid dynamic shifts in media technology, Oman’s Ministry of Information’s collaboration with UBMS is a testament to the importance of adapting to changing times. The upgrade not only addresses technical challenges but also equips the ministry to disseminate information more efficiently, ensuring its media apparatus remains robust and resilient in an ever-evolving digital age.
Salalah – Overview
The system includes EVS XS Via servers ingest servers to provide eight ingest and 12 playout channels. The transcoding farm consists of transcoding engines which take file-based ingest, transcoding, rendering and file transfers between EVS systems and between EVS and third-party storage. The central storage powered by EVS X Store has a storage capacity of 128TB, used to share video content across the PAM system. XS Via servers are future-proof hardware capable of being upgraded to IP UHD when required.
There are five virtualised servers to host all the EVS backend services. The complete EVS system is designed with redundancy at multiple levels – hardware, database and applications – and installed to handle both news and production workflow across two galleries.
Muscat – Overview
The system includes EVS XS Via servers providing 24 ingest and 32 playout channels. The transcoding farm consists of transcoding engines, which handle file-based ingest, transcoding, rendering and file transfers between EVS systems and between EVS and third-party storage. The central storage, powered by EVS X Store, has 500TB capacity, used to share video content across the PAM system. XS Via servers are future-proof hardware capable of being upgraded to IP UHD when required.
There are eight virtualised servers to host all the backend services of EVS. The complete EVS system is designed with redundancy at multiple levels – hardware, database and applications, and handles both news and production workflow across eight galleries.
Media Central | Newsroom management is installed in a two-host environment. The network infrastructure in these hosts is dual 10G and configured vSphere HA to handle host failure.
Adobe Creative Cloud replaces the existing Media Composer NLEs. These systems are installed with dual 10G to access the PAM/Central storage.
EVS PAM is integrated with the existing Tedial MAM system to achieve the Archive and Restore workflow and send clips from PAM to the current playout system. The EVS IPLink plug-in allows editors to import video clips into the Adobe sequence, and the export option allows them to define the metadata. Adobe Premier Pro and Viz graphics are integrated for editors to access the Viz graphics template, key in graphics data and render both video and graphics together. There is also integration between EVS Proxy edit and Viz graphics.
EVS integrates with iNews to publish a rundown from iNews to EVS and get the rundown status/feedback from EVS to iNews. iNews is integrated with Vizrt and Netia for Active X integration and rundown publishing.
Content acquisition can be signal-based or file-based. The user can select the router source and do the recording during feed ingest. File-based ingest is handled by multiple watch folders to ingest files coming from FTP, Reuters, external hard drives, etc. EVS Multicam recording allows ingesting operators to access the content missing from their ingest list.
PAM users can browse the proxy while the ingest is in progress. Multiple bin mapping and bin filters make content available in the user bin for quick access, with automated file transfer between PAM systems, EVS and Tedial per the workflow requirement.
For news production, EVS proxy edit can be used for a new package that requires basic editing and voiceover. Through Avid iNews, the edited clip can be published to the gallery for playout. If needed, the project from EVS proxy edit can be passed to Adobe as an EDL.
For remote content browsing and transfer between Muscat and Salalah, Muscat PAM users can access the Salalah EVS PAM content and initiate content transfers. Similarly, Salalah users can access Muscat content and initiate transfers.