Italy’s RAI outlines ambitious T-Cube digitisation project

Italian public broadcaster RAI continues to make progress with an important engineering project, T-Cube (or TTT, Transition To Tapeless), which basically involves the deveopment of technological infrastructure on a large scale in order to let the different production structures of RAI communicate easily.

The scheme involves integration of a standard file format within the production and management processes – from the very beginning of the chain, when the content is produced, through to its airing and subsequent archiving.

The TG news and sports services form an integral part of this process. Following the digital transition of TG2, it was natural to move on to TG3 and TG1. As of now the project is continuing with the digitisation of various regional offices, to be followed by further work at TG2 then at RAI News.

All of this takes place against a backdrop of significant changes at the broadcaster, including money-saving measures, internal reforms, and the possibility of making news production more efficient. The supporting technological infrastructure, therefore, needs to be as efficient and responsive as possible.

Studio configurations

The new TG control rooms were developed by focusing all the primary functions – video, audio, lighting, control etc – into a single area. In TG1 control room the core elements are: Grass Valley Kayenne XL video mixer, with 96 inputs and 72 outputs, as well as a fully-featured Snell & Wilcox matrix.

The system is centred on the array that receives all signals from the HD format and distributes them to various users. The TG1 cameras comprise six Hitachi devices, all with camera operators, whilst in TG3 there are seven Tecnopoint systems spoting remote control capabilities.

The integrated playout of the three channels is achieved by Avid Interplay, which also handles all incoming signals. Consequently, it is possible to simultaneously receive signals from up to 20 master general matrices within the RAI. Meanwhile, the control room has a backup system in case the mixer encounters problems.

Distributors, digital converters and cross converters are by Ross. With the transition to HD, all the connections between the various buildings of the Saxa Rubra production centre are courtesy of fiber optic and electro optic. The entire section of equipment here was provided by Evertz. Meanwhile, the IT part and ‘classic’ video broadcast systems are linked by many switch arrays and servers, and all machines are connected and integrated via LAN.

Audio provision

At the heart of the new digital audio system is a Stagetec Aurus with 48 faders and 128 inputs. Also in use are wireless and/or wired mics from Wisycom, Sennheiser and DPA, whilst a Lawo crystal mixer is available for back-up/emergency.

The communication system is from Clea-Com and is connected directly to the MADI audio matrix NEXUS STAR, with two NEXUS stageboxes – one in the control room and one in the audience area – to collect 24 microphone lines and provide outputs. Audio monitoring is by Genelec.

The technical team assisting the newly digitized TG comprises a production manager, secretary, director and directorial assistant .

In the past the scheduling playout was printed, but now everything is computerised with Avid iNEWS. The scheduling follows the plans and changes made by the editor-in-chief.

As mentioned, playout is via the Avid Interplay system, which contains all the materials acquired by Teleports in the editing suites, or what is brought in from various external locations.

Among the most important changes within the new workflow is the highly flexible file ingestion set-up. Consequently, there is now the possibility of ingesting XDCAM files through an EVS OpenCube disk recorder.

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