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Thomson Keys on Workflow

From acquisition to digital finishing and everything in between By Guy Wright

At the recent Thomson/Grass Valley Pre-NAB event held in Palm Springs a host of journalists from around the world were presented with a dozen new product announcements and insights into Thomsons plans for the future. The overriding theme of the two-day event was workflow, workflow, workflow. We probably heard the word ?workflow more often than we heard the words Thomson, Grass Valley, RCA, or Technicolor. Without a doubt, Thomson sees workflow as the underlying base upon which they will build and enhance their entire product line - from new digital cameras to ingest to storage and asset management to editing and finishing to delivery of final product weather it be SD, HD, film, or digital cinema for broadcast, DVD, settop box, or the web - its all about the workflow.

There was so much emphasis on workflow that it was sometimes easy to miss the new products embedded in the hundreds of PowerPoint charts and diagrams. In fact, Thomson has even dubbed their new initiative dMAX (digital Media Asset Maximization) with the goal of ?helping media leaders worldwide capitalize on their investment in digital content creation. The new initiative will promote Thomson as a single-supplier integration partner that can ?deliver software and middleware frameworks, critical applications, best-in-class products, and expert system integration and support services to create complete, optimized, end-to-end workflows. The implication was that this would even extend beyond Thomson products where appropriate.

Of course, Thomson did unveil a variety of new products and existing product enhancements in support of their workflow models.

Grass Valley LDK 4000 and LDK 400 ITW digital cameras
At the event Thomson announced two new Grass Valley-branded cameras the LDK 4000 for affordable, single-format high-definition (HD) production; and the LDK 400 ITW, a 14-bit camera that supports a wide range of standard-definition (SD) uses. (see Thomson Announces Two Grass Valley Cameras for more details.)

Kayak HD 2 M/E switcher
The Grass Valley brand Kayak HD 2 M/E switcher for high-definition (HD) production is designed for live production, small corporate studios and editing applications. Supporting 1080i and 720p HD production the system is also SD/HD switchable. (see Thomson Expands Kayak HD Video Switcher Line for more details)

Digital Triax and Digi-Link
The new Grass Valley Digital Triax and Digi-Link digital transmission systems are dockable with the LDK 300, 400, and 500 cameras. They also fit seamlessly into many production configurations and are compatible with Grass Valley camera control panels. (see Thomson Intros New Transmission Systems for LDK Cameras for more details.)

Venom FlashPak
Thomson also announced a new Grass Valley brand Venom FlashPak dockable solid state recorder for the Viper FilmStream Digital Cinematography Camera. (see Thomson Expands Viper FilmStream Camera System for more details.)

NetCentral 4.1 and XMS
For the network Thomson showed two PC-based software packages that provide comprehensive monitoring and control for both their studio and production facilities as well as their digital content delivery systems: the Grass Valley brand NetCentral 4.1 facility-monitoring software and an expanded Grass Valley XMS network-management system. (see Thomson Expands NetCentral and XMS Toolsets for more details.)

Grass Valley Ignite
The scalable Ignite line includes everything customers need for digital production, including remotely controlled, broadcast-quality Grass Valley CameraMan and LDK 300 cameras, Grass Valley KayakDD digital video production switcher, the Grass Valley Concerto routing switcher, analog and digital audio mixing/processing, and Thomsons advanced automation control software. It also supports third-party devices and all major newsroom computer systems.

For repurposing high-value content through multiple distribution channels, the Ignite system supports the Grass Valley WebSTATION application for live or on-demand Web viewing. Using the application, you can post enhanced content segments to the Web in as little as 15 minutes after a live program. (see Thomson Launches Grass Valley Ignite for more details.)

Gecko and Acappella
Thomson also announced a new, flexible architecture and HD support for its Grass Valley brand Gecko signal processing product line?and an expansion of its Grass Valley Acappella utility router line. (see Thomson Enhances Gecko and Acappella for more details.)

Spirit 4K, Bones, and LUTher
In the postproduction space Thomson announced a new color corrector for the Grass Valley Spirit 4K high-performance film scanner and DataCine system; repair and stabilization products for the Grass Valley Bones open post-production framework; and additional new functions for the LUTher color space converter. (see Thomson Expands Grass Valley Digital Post Production Line for more details.)

Grass Valley OnCall and C2MD
The new Grass Valley OnCall service level agreement (SLA) will enable broadcasters to lower their operational costs and reduce downtime. Available on a one-year subscription basis, the program features a bank of flexible, fixed-price engineering support hours; 24-hour parts replacement; coverage for products no longer on warranty; guaranteed access to dedicated service representatives, on-site engineering staff; and supplementary operational and technical training. All of this is supported by the new C2MD program, allowing centralized monitoring and reconfiguration of digital broadcast facilities.

Plans for the Future
As part of Thomsons workflow-based solutions executives indicated that Thomson will be expanding their offerings to the pro A/V markets, smaller broadcasters, church television, educational facilities and corporations. By cost-reducing existing products and filling in their product lines with new products they expect to be able to offer cost-effective and comprehensive solutions to those outside the large broadcast markets.

They also discussed proposed plans targeting the teleco markets where video over IP and IT networks are expected to form a critical part of the emerging ?tripple-play efforts that many phone companies are launching. By providing encoders, decoders, and settop boxes, Thomson expects to play a major role in the voice/data/video offerings provided by telcos.

Of course, there was a lot of talk about HDTV at the event and nearly every new product they announced supports both SD and HD, but they also indicated that while sales of SD products in the US have declined dramatically in the past few years, sales of HD products in Europe and the rest of the world are still fairly small. This shouldnt be too surprising considering that few countries outside the US have established clear HD roadmaps and US broadcasters are reluctant to invest in SD equipment that could be outdated in a few years - its simply easier to produce in HD and downconvert to SD. But even if a station cant afford HD equipment today they are still looking to purchase equipment that can be upgraded to HD later.

Considering that the Thomson/Grass Valley pre-NAB event was only two days long they certainly crammed a lot of information and product announcements into a very short period of time.

For more information about Thomson visit www.thomson.net.

For information about Grass Valley products visit www.thomsongrassvalley.com.

About the author
Guy Wright has been kicking around the video and computer industries for more years than he cares to admit. He has written hundreds of articles, reviews, and editorials for dozens of magazines and Web sites over the years and never seems to get tired exploring new technologies.


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Guy Wright has been kicking around computers and video for more years than he cares to admit and written too many articles to count. He has been a director, editor, producer, video operator, and announcer for a score of radio and TV stations. His credits include hundreds of insipid local-origination programs and commercials, dozens of cheesy radio spots, and even a book or two. Mainly he writes and edits articles for Digital Media Online.
Related Keywords:Thomson, Workflow, Grass Valley, RCA, Technicolor, digital cameras, ingest, storage, asset management, editing, finishing, dMAX, digital Media Asset Maximization, LDK 4000, LDK 400 ITW, Kayak HD, Digital Triax, Digi-Link, Venom FlashPak, solid state recorder, Viper FilmStream, NetCentral 4.1, XMS, Ignite, CameraMan, Concerto, WebSTATION, Gecko, Acappella, Spirit 4K, Bones, LUTher, OnCall, C2MD, HDTV,


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