NBC Olympics Uses Harmonic For Video Infrastructure to Power ‘Highlights Factory’

Harmonic was selected to provide its Harmonic MediaGrid shared storage and Spectrum MediaDeck integrated media playout server systems to NBC Olympics.NBC Olympics is using the Harmonic solution to support a “highlights factory” in which staff based at the broadcaster’s Stamford, Conn., facility will very quickly access event footage captured in Russia, create highlights clips, and make them available to mobile devices and computers. This wide-area production model facilitates cost-effective content creation by allowing NBC Olympics to maintain a significant portion of its operation in the United States.

“Over the past three Olympic Games, Harmonic infrastructure has been at the center of the NBC Olympics production workflow,” said Peter Alexander, chief marketing officer at Harmonic. “In 2014 Harmonic media server and storage systems will once again play a critical role in NBC Olympics’ content creation workflow, providing the performance and reliability essential to timely multiplatform delivery of compelling content – an increasingly important element of high-profile sports coverage.”

“It’s a game changer for us,” said David Mazza, senior vice president, NBC Olympics, referring to the innovative NBC production facility in Stamford, Conn., that has been built on technologies, including the Harmonic systems, proven in past Olympics. “Everything we built for the 2012 London Olympics is being used here in Stamford every day by NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. Throughout the 2014 Sochi Olympics, we will be able to leverage both new and existing infrastructure to establish a highly efficient and very cost-effective fast-turnaround highlights-creation workflow for multiplatform content.”

During the two-week London event, NBC Olympics served up more than two billion page views, setting new records, and the “NBC Olympics Live Extra” app became one of the most downloaded in Apple app store history. During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Harmonic infrastructure and other production solutions already well-established at the Stamford facility, will operate along with systems installed at the broadcaster’s Sochi headquarters to enable NBC Olympics to bring high volumes of timely content to nonlinear distribution platforms.

Harmonic MediaDeck video servers will record as many as 25 incoming venue feeds as both XDCAM-HD at 50 Mbps and H.264 low-resolution proxy. These systems also will give Stamford personnel independent control over 60 channels of local ingest. Each recording’s proxy is replicated in near real-time on a 480 TB Harmonic MediaGrid storage system connected via two 10-Gigabit circuits to a second 384 TB MediaGrid installed at the Stamford facility. In less than a minute, content created on the Sochi MediaGrid system will be replicated on the Stamford MediaGrid system.

The NBC Olympics production staff in the U.S. and Russia will have direct access to content stored on either MediaGrid system through the media asset management (MAM) system, even if the event is still in progress and the files are still being received. Once recordings begin, dozens of loggers, producers, and editors in Stamford will access the material, excerpt what they need, and make highlight files. Using extensive live logs and stats, scoring, and timing information embedded as metadata, editors will be able to make shot lists that can be quickly and automatically conformed in proxy resolution for streaming along with live multiscreen services, or conformed in high resolution for use in NBC Olympics’ traditional broadcast edit suites in Stamford and other U.S. facilities.

Integration of the MediaGrid into NBC’s EVS workflows, with EVS IPDirector devices directly mounted on the MediaGrid, will extend and pool the storage capabilities of the EVS systems. From any IPDirector seat, NBC Olympics personnel will have immediate access to footage from any venue, from any day of competition. An LTO-5 library in Stamford will make it easy for production staff to access and use content from previous Olympic Games.

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