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Thomson Introduces Aurora Software Suite for Digital News, Sports, Feature Production (30/1/2005)

Integrates Ingest, Editing, Playlist Management; Scales from Browse-Level Video to HD

In a sweeping expansion of its digital news production technologies, Thomson (Euronext Paris: 18453; NYSE: TMS) today announced its Grass Valley(tm) Aurora(tm) suite for digital news, sports, and feature production. Integrating ingest, nonlinear editing, and playlist-management functions, the suite scales to support everything from browse-quality files to standard- and high-definition (SD and HD) video.

The pace of today's hard news, sports, and feature production workflows continues to accelerate as media leaders aggressively pursue new methods of repurposing their high-value content over multiple distribution channels, from Web sites to cell phones. Central to this effort is the integration of IT-based technologies which reduce the cost of and increase the return on workflow investments.

Leveraging the core technologies resident in the company's Grass Valley digital news production (DNP) line, the Aurora suite supports standard PC platforms and networking technologies, touches the entire story-creation workflow, from capture and editing through playback control, and scales from browse-level support to full HD production.

"Whether you work in news, sports, or feature production, Thomson is the only company with an integrated package that supports your workflow process-and lets you move to HD production by simply upgrading your hardware and entering in a new license key," said Marc Valentin, executive vice president, Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions.

The Aurora suite is also integrated with Grass Valley Ignite(tm) line of integrated production solutions to form and end-to-end production environment, from the news center or sports desk to the control room.

New dMAX initiative targets digital workflows

In addition to the Aurora production suite, Thomson today also launched the Grass Valley dMAX(tm) (digital Media Asset Maximization) initiative to help media leaders worldwide capitalize on their investment in digital content creation.

Through the initiative, Thomson will offer a single-supplier integration partner for digital workflow success: one 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.

Today, no company touches more points of today's digital production workflows-or has more experience integrating them-than Thomson. Through the dMAX initiative it expects workflow-based design and integration to be a high-growth component of its overall success. Supporting a wide array of multi-format news, sports, and feature production workflows, Thomson's end-to-end solution includes applications for ingest, browse, nonlinear editing, media storage, news playback, and integrated production solutions.

Aurora: integrated, scalable multi-format production environment

The Aurora suite is perfectly tuned to support news, feature, and sports production. Users can configure it with ingest, editing, and/or playlist management modules-and specify floating licenses for each module-to match their workflow requirements and available labor pools. Its scalable design supports everything from from MPEG-1 and Windows Media 9 for low-resolution proxy files to SD and HD video. And it takes only a new license key and the proper hardware platform for the suite to move from one video type to another.

For ingest, the Aurora suite includes an interactive feed capture system that makes it easy to schedule incoming feeds as well as quickly capture and turn around breaking news stories and sports highlights. It can also directly import HD files stored on a Grass Valley Profile(r) server.

The Aurora suite features the fastest nonlinear editor available, one that lets users begin their work even before a clip has been completely loaded, and that lets them preview edits and effects in real time. For HD production, it also includes a high-resolution output for monitoring. In fact, users' files remain in high resolution across the entire production chain during HD and SD production-even if a user is editing at a lower resolution-thereby maintaining image quality while conserving network bandwidth.

For playlist management, the Aurora suite features up to six mirrored channels of A/B-roll playlist management and the ability for users to enter a running order of stories and clips quickly, cue them, and trigger them for play to air-and manipulate this list dynamically, without interrupting playback. Open protocols are also available for third-party applications.

The Aurora suite supports a variety of standard PC platforms, from simple desktop systems to laptops and high-performance workstations.

Software-driven design drives scalability, affordability

Representing a highly cost-effective editing toolset for journalists and producers, the new Aurora suite is based on field-proven Grass Valley digital news production software. The new system features a software-based codec that users can configure to support multiple resolutions and media types-one that combines cuts-only edit bay capabilities, traditional A/B roll suite transition functions, color correction, and effects.

What's more, the Aurora includes character generation, and multi-track audio editing capabilities. Users can also export its Edit Decision Lists (EDLs) to another for offline finishing and audio sweetening, and then import the results back into the Aurora suite. Moreover, the suite editor makes extensive use of the inherent graphics processing capabilities of the PC platform to facilitate affordable digital production and to accommodate third-party applications and products.

The Aurora suite also supports a full range of scalable storage systems as well as Ethernet and Fibre Channel connectivity options.

Pricing and Availability:

The starting price for the Aurora suite with HD capabilities approximately is €23,400. It is scheduled to be available in the third quarter of 2005.

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