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Sky Channel Leverages All-Digital On-Air Production and Asset Management System Powered By SGI Technology


SGI Altix XE Servers and SGI InfiniteStorage System Drive On-The-Fly Editing and Automated Archiving
LAS VEGAS — NAB Booth SL4314 (April 2008)—Faced with a growing business broadcasting an average of 12 hours of live racing events daily and an aging 15,000-plus videotape library in six different formats, Sky Channel, in Sydney, Australia, made the decision to go digital by purchasing a media asset management and storage solution from SGI (NASDAQ: SGIC). The new digital infrastructure includes SGI® Altix® XE servers and an SGI® InfiniteStorage system, fully integrated into the heart of the station’s operations. Installation began in March 2007, and now that testing and training is complete, Sky Channel is due to go live in early April.

Sky Channel broadcasts approximately 55,000 Thoroughbred, Harness and Greyhound races a year, plus special high profile boxing events, throughout Australia as well as Asia, parts of Europe, and Africa. Ingested from up to 24 live feeds, they also distribute the signal via a fibre program feed to New Zealand, London in the United Kingdom, Louisville, Kentucky, and South Africa. The channel is delivered on pay TV to Australian homes, and is also available within the country and internationally in sports pubs and clubs. Sky Channel is preparing to launch interactive betting through pay TV in some residential areas in Australia.

Handling about 200 individual races a day, with accompanying footage of jockeys dismounting, trainers’ reactions, different camera feeds, live studio hosts, and additional magazine shows is a daunting task. “Our main focus was to make sure we can cope with those 55,000 live races, about 3,000 hours, we were archiving on videotape and needed to ingest automatically, and store onto the system,” said Sam Cannizzaro, Chief Engineer, Sky Channel. “We wanted some basic editing functionality to quickly turn around news or to pre-package show segments. It was also essential to be able to manage the rich data feeds — track conditions, odds, etc — and automatically tie all that information together with the actual media, so that if you do a search on a particular race, jockey or trainer, you’ll find all the media associated with it.”

Sky Channel looked to SGI channel partner United Group Infrastructure to design, supply, integrate and commission the digital media asset management and storage system. The channel has not yet determined if they will be archiving the legacy material, but still required that the system be a scalable design that could meet future expansion.

Sky Channel purchased a system comprised of two SGI® Altix® XE240 servers with four Intel® Xeon® processors each for the NAS head, four additional SGI Altix XE servers with the same configuration for application and database servers, four similarly configured SGI® Altix® XE210 servers as the Ardenc™ server, an SGI® InfiniteStorage 4000 with 6TB, and SGI® InfiniteStorage Data Migration Facility (DMF) for 210TB, used for transparently moving data on and off the SAN. They also purchased an Ardendo media asset management with editing software, a StorageTek® SL500 Digital Tape Robot with 180TB capacity, Thomson-Grass Valley™ K2™ ingest severs allowing for ingest of 20 concurrent embedded SDI DVCPRO25 streams. The entire system is integrated with three Avid® Media Composer® Adreneline™ systems.

“We were quite happy that United Group decided to utilize SGI because SGI is renown in the broadcast industry and we felt quite comfortable that SGI could fulfill the requirements we needed,” said Cannizzaro. “We’re finishing up the training process and the feedback from my staff has been tremendous — really positive. Some of the operators are stunned to see how powerful this system is and how useful it’s going to be.”

“Sky Channel joins the growing ranks of international broadcasters who rely on the bandwidth and robustness of SGI servers and storage to consistently move high resolution and metadata through a management system, and support the quick edits of live television,” said Jim Mukerjee, manager, Digital Content Management Segment, SGI. “SGI DMF also met the customer’s need to archive, yet instantly access that same material and transparently migrate files from online storage to near-line storage based on user-defined criteria. DMF is in use at broadcast and postproduction facilities worldwide, easily handling a petabyte or more of data.”
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