IBM And SONY Electronics Help to Transform CNN's News-Gathering Process

CNN's New, Re-Engineered, Digital, Customized, Media Production System Up and Running

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LAS VEGAS, Nev - 22 Apr 2001: IBM and Sony Electronics today announced the installation and delivery of a newly designed and engineered digital asset management system, created to help CNN digitize its vast videotape library. The five-to-seven-year, $20-million project will put CNN's videotape archive online, providing better protection for CNN's footage, and making it more easily accessible to CNN journalists worldwide. CNN's footage encompasses the world's most historic moments of the past 21 years.

The joint IBM and Sony system is helping to change the way CNN stores and distributes content and marks the beginning of a complete transformation of CNN's traditional news production methodologies from analog to all new digital work-flows. The newly designed and customized system will digitize, catalog, store, distribute, and retrieve more than 120,000 hours of archival material, gathered during the past 21 years at CNN. The CNN production ramp-up is one of the biggest and most ambitious digital transformation projects ever undertaken.

"For CNN, the resulting system will reduce operational costs and provide greater opportunities to increase revenue by leveraging our digital assets across multiple platforms," said Gordon Castle, CNN senior vice president of strategic digital systems research and development. "The archive project is also an important step in preserving CNN assets and provides the digital platform to better leverage all CNN assets. Without the move to a digital system, CNN would be faced with an ongoing tape dubbing process to maintain the video quality on a usable tape format."

As the system comes on-line, CNN users and, later, external, public users will have access to digital video, audio, graphics and text files from their desktop. Public users will be able to search the archive and all areas of production. Clips will be viewable on their desktops in a low-resolution format and will be available for use or purchase. CNN staff and correspondents will be able to log on to the new CNN network and access video and other content right from a laptop anywhere in the world, which previously would have required a production assistant searching, logging, and then shipping the video from headquarters. The system also significantly reduces the amount of "spoilage," or unused audio and video assets.

"We have built the Media Production Suite product from the ground-up to satisfy broadcast and video production requirements. Then, we customized the implementation to meet CNN's specific requirements, giving them a system that helps the organization produce, manage, and distribute news footage," said Dick Anderson, general manager at IBM. "In today's increasingly digitized world, media-companies want fast, flexible, and universal access to content, and IBM and Sony have delivered a system that allows producers to quickly tap into CNN's huge archive, and retrieve either high or low-resolution output."

"Asset management solutions are the key to helping organizations like CNN digitize and manage their rich media assets and identify and implement new business models," said Edward Grebow, deputy president of Sony Electronics and president of its Broadcast and Professional Company. "When enterprise assets gain value, the enterprise itself gains value. Sony provided CNN with the broadcast and video networking expertise that made the on-line management of digital assets possible."

The installation of CNN's joint IBM and Sony digital production suite marks the end of two years of in-depth study, analysis, architecture, and engineering in order to create customer-focused models that deliver award-winning programs. The system will roll out in phases, with additional enhancements being planned for CNN Network Affiliates. The first components of these systems were delivered as of this announcement, and the digitizing process has begun.

IBM Digital Infrastructure Employed:
IBM software is providing all the database, media management applications, and middleware software to be used to extend digital content across the CNN enterprise. The system will employ IBM's powerful media management software -- Media Production Suite, an end-to-end media asset management production support system with ingest, catalog, managed storage, search, browse, cuts-only EDL generation and fulfillment of digital video content. Media Production Suite manages both editable quality video and frame accurate proxies of that video. It links the video with robust metadata for efficient and effective search and retrieve. And, it will ensure material will not get lost or misplaced.

IBM Media Production Suite supports the media production process with integrated workflow and the management of production quality media objects. The CNN solution includes IBM's media asset management framework, a collection of integrated software applications and services built upon advanced technologies and industry applications.

The IBM infrastructure of products and services also integrates third party applications and tools, and supports open industry standards. Specific IBM contributions include consulting and system integration services, and specific hardware and software such as: IBM Content Manager, DB2 Universal Database, MQSeries workflow software, Websphere, and IBM servers -- RS/6000, RS/6000 SP and IBM Netfinity. Key third party products include Virage's VideoLogger and Minerva's VNP-251 CODEC with GPI.

Sony Digital Infrastructure Employed:
Sony Systems Solutions Divisionwith IBM worked closely to analyze CNN's workflow processes and identify challenges and opportunities for the legendary cable news network. Sony Systems Solutions Divisionprovided system design services, broadcast video products, custom software and integration services to help CNN implement the project. A core technology provided by Sony is the synchronous capture of multiple resolutions of video and metadata in a single pass process that significantly reduces the cost of creating digital assets. The Sony MAV broadcast video servers coupled with the Sony networked storage manager Petaserve supplies CNN with the Hierarchical Storage Management for networking video.
At the heart of the CNN system is the Sony Petasite, robotic digital data tape unit that will store the video and metadata in a compressed digital form that will protect it from wear and aging. The Sony DTF drive is one of the fastest drives commercially available and is supported by the UNIX and Windows NT platforms. It provides back up and archiving capabilities for a variety of servers, workstations and client/server computer systems that spans from mission-critical information technology environments to high-end graphics production and post-production.

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