ABC-owned stations going tapeless

May 20, 2002  •  Post A Comment

WLS-TV, Chicago, will be the first of ABC’s 10 owned stations to have desktop editing and browsing capabilities after its newsroom is remodeled in August.
The technology will allow up to 36 staffers to browse and 34 others to browse and edit video at once.
AvidiNEWS is providing the browser system, and Thomson Broadcast is providing the editing and computer server systems, which will allow the newsroom to become tapeless with nonlinear editing. Photographers will shoot video out in the field, and that video will be fed into computer servers. This desktop editing system will allow reporters, producers and other staffers to view video, edit stories and do voice-over tracks from their desks and let more than one person work on the same piece of video at the same time. Once video is ingested into the giant computer server, it will be archived and easy to look up in the future.
“Nonlinear editing allows you a lot of flexibility, a lot of opportunity to increase your speed to make changes,” said WLS General Manager Emily Barr. “You can have two different people working on the same piece of tape simultaneously. So if the mayor was with the president, as we had the other day, you can have two people cutting that at the same time.”
Ms. Barr said discussions on the new technology and remodeling began two years ago. In March, newsroom staffers moved to one of the building’s first-floor studios, which houses the station’s two local shows “Chicagoing” and “190 North.”
Sister station KGO-TV, San Francisco, was the first in the group to convert to a server-based, tapeless newsroom in November 1998. A year ago KABC-TV, Los Angeles, also was equipped with computer server technology, but it is not fully tapeless yet. Staffers at both KGO and KABC must still go to workstations to edit and browse. WLS staffers, who will undergo multiday training courses, will be able to do everything from their desks, although there still will be edit rooms available.
Eventually, all 10 ABC-owned stations will be server-based, probably within three years, said Dave Converse, VP and director of engineering for the station group. WABC-TV, New York will be next in line, with changes coming perhaps as soon as this fall. Sometime next year, KGO and KABC will be updated to have desktop editing and browsing capabilities. “Eventually, all of our stations will use this new work flow, a tapeless work flow inside the newsroom,” Mr. Converse said. “We’re trying to give the tools to the creative person to make sure that when he tells a story he can tell it the way he wants to tell it. They don’t have to try to communicate to a second person what the story is. There still will be a need for editors. That’s a skill.”
In recent years, language was included in union contracts to allow all staffers in a newsroom to use PC-based editing. Gone will be the days when the linear editing equipment is under the jurisdiction of editors only. This means reporters, writers or anyone at WLS can assist in the storytelling process.
One goal at the ABC-owned stations will be to share video with each other by transferring computer files through e-mail, instead of today’s process where someone has to book a video connection on a satellite and play tape on one end while someone at the receiving end records it. Mr. Converse said the concept of file transfer is “several years down the road.”
David Schleifer, director of broadcast for Avid Technology, said newsrooms worldwide have inquired about the technology WLS will use. Avid sold more than 30 similar systems last year.#