BSkyB, the leading satellite broadcaster in the UK and Ireland, has selected the Grass Valley™ K2 Solo™ multiformat media server to streamline its graphics replay workflow for its highly popular high definition sports channels and the new Sky 3D channel. The company is moving to a completely file-based production system and it is recommending to its outside broadcast providers that they install Grass Valley K2 Solo media servers in their trucks to enable the smooth operation of graphics replay moves within its sport production.
Sky now broadcasts four dedicated sports channels, along with a sports news channel, each of which is available in high definition. This year, it has also added Sky 3D, which includes sports coverage in its schedule. Sky is highly regarded for the quality of its coverage, and in particular for its high production values, including a widespread and consistent use of motion graphics to punctuate the coverage and to move between live action, replays, and comment.
Up until now, these graphics have been created at Sky Sports headquarters and delivered on tape, as key and fill streams, to the outside broadcast trucks. They then needed to be loaded into whichever server that particular contractor used. As Sky is moving into its new production headquarters over the coming year, and with it migrating to a fully file-based environment, it sought to develop a less time-consuming, more reliable process.
"We wanted to be able to deliver standard files, on a USB drive or memory stick, which could be loaded into the trucks and work right away, so we needed a server which could handle files, gave us a two-channel output for key and fill, and was compact and affordable," explained Darren Long, Director of Operations, Sky Sports. "Then the K2 Solo was introduced and it was perfect for our needs.
"With ChannelFlex™ technology , a single K2 Solo can give us four channel output streams, for key and fill on left and right eyes on two independent channels," Long added. "We worked with Grass Valley on our requirements, and the K2 Solo is now perfect for us: it handles files so loading is fast and easy, it has good surround audio so we can link the sound effects, it has 3D capabilities, it is compact, and the price is right. We are now ready to deliver our graphics replay elements as standard files, and recommending to our outside broadcast partners that they install the Grass Valley K2 Solo into their trucks as well."
"BSkyB is the most successful paid subscription channel in Europe, it is a leader in innovative coverage and always looks to find new technology to enhance its coverage, particularly in sports where it has great creative use of graphics and stingers," said Jeff Rosica, Senior Vice President for Grass Valley. "The K2 Solo media server was designed for just this sort of application, where ease of use, from file loading to multi-stream synchronized playout is vital, and we are delighted to be working with Sky on this important element in their transition to a tapeless workflow."
Sky Sports partners with leading outside broadcast contractors in the UK including NEP Visions and Telegenic, who are all installing Grass Valley K2 Solo media servers in their OB units. The new workflow is already in use for Sky's exclusive coverage of UK Premier League football, and will be rolled out over the coming months across all others sports.