EURO 2016 Reflections: Solarflare’s Russell Stern reflects on ‘breakthrough’ broadcast solution
As at previous tournaments, the task for broadcasters at EURO 2016 was to prepare and publish highlights packages as soon as each match had finished. These clips needed to include all the major talking points from the game. While match footage was being recorded, editors leveraged software to access content stored centrally on the EVS servers, alleviating the need for copying or transcoding. This required an extremely high-performance storage system and exceptional IT infrastructure, as the files continued to expand as the match progresses, and all production processes required access to the same data.
Across multiple tournaments, the StorNext SAN integrated by EVS proved to be a fast, reliable and high-performance storage system. For EURO 2016, approximately 40 editing workstations were installed, each equipped with a Hewlett-Packard Z-Workstation. Each computer was connected to the rest of the network via a 10-gigabit fibre-optic cable. Adobe Premiere Pro CC, After Effects and Audition were leveraged for post-processing tasks, and Prelude is used for conforming and logging. All of these applications are sourced from the Adobe Creative Cloud. In addition, Maxon Cinema 4D was deployed for numerous graphic design tasks. When it comes to real-time editing, ensuring rapid, low-latency data transfer was a top priority. With this in mind, each HP workstation had a Solarflare 10GbE network adapter that gave the user seamless, super-fast access to the central server. Specifically, the adapter used a file server to access the central SAN storage system for content editing tasks.
The Solarflare SFN5162F network adapters preferred by EVS feature two 10GbE ports, and offer 40 Gb/s two-way data transfer, with minimal jitter. As a result, they fulfil all of the key requirements of this solution. In addition, the adapters ease the load on the CPUs at each workstation, freeing them from operational processing tasks – and therefore increasing the processor’s productivity when editing data. The standard, system-wide production format uses the AVCIntra 100 codec, with a 1080i50 resolution.
All content was stored, processed and distributed in line with these specifications, with no intermediate formats and no other codecs. The content management system was based on EVS’s IP Director software. To ensure seamless interaction between the EVS storage system and Adobe Premiere editing software, MoovIT’s developers have created a standardised tool known as Helmut. This tool accelerates and simplifies search and administrative processes when editing project files. Helmut also adapts the program interface and settings to the exact requirements of each user.
Throughout EURO 2016, MoovIT continued to assist the event hosts at the broadcasting centre – both with implementation of the technology and support. IP Director logged highlights while matches are taking place. The ‘IP Link for Adobe’ panel inside the editing system displayed the very latest logging information. The editor could access a list of thumbnails depicting key passages of play, and was able to use these to quickly create a highlights clip. Editors could access the files on the EVS servers, even as these files continued to expand, accelerating the entire process. The solution eliminated the need to transfer or re-code material, as users had direct access to content on the EVS server, and Premiere Pro CC supported native editing of footage. The material – including all relevant metadata – was made available to all users on the EVS server, in a highly secure, read-only format.
Summing up, Solarflare CEO Russell Stern remarks: “We are delighted to have successfully partnered with EVS, Adobe and MoovIT to provide a breakthrough broadcast solution for these major sporting events. Our class leading ultra low latency network adapters remain the broadcast industry standard for performance networking.”