Based in Manila, Philippines, ABS-CBN, Inc. is a global conglomerate of many companies. Its core product, The Filipino Channel (TFC), was launched in 1994 and has more than 200,000 subscribers in North America. The channel is distributed by major cable and satellite operators, and provides news and entertainment programming that is produced in Manila and the United States.
When ABS-CBN decided to build a brand-new digital studio in Redwood City, Calif., to serve as its North American headquarters, it selected Advanced Systems Group to manage the project. ASG provided design and integration for the facility, and continues to deliver training and post-installation support services.
Jonas de Leon, manager of broadcast engineering for ABS-CBN International, N.A., said the facility was built to address the growing need for locally produced programming that caters to the Filipino-American market. “We needed our own space rather than renting, which we did for more than two years. Having a fully equipped studio made sense for our long-term plans,” he explained.
The facility was completed in November 2007 and includes Sony DXC-D50WS studio cameras with Fujinon lenses (three on Vinten Osprey pedestals and one on a motorized jib), an ETC Express lighting control console, Echolab Nova 2 M/E switcher, Yamaha DM200 audio console, Pixel Power Clarity CG, EZNews production system, and Clear-Com intercom. The production control room, audio control room, and voiceover booth were equipped with custom-built consoles and furniture, while the 50×55-foot studio is large enough to accommodate multiple sets as well as a studio audience.
An air-conditioned equipment room houses much of the facility’s production and post-production hardware, including an Apple Xsan shared storage system, which is mirrored to provide maximum stability. A 24 TB Rorke Data Galaxy network attached storage (NAS) appliance is used to park assets needed in the very short term. Six Apple Final Cut Pro edit suites are connected to the shared storage via fiber, while an additional workstation is located in the equipment room for ingest.
Sierra automation software serves as the facility’s media asset management system, with Origin One for the central database, MediaServices for archiving, and StoryCut, which has a tight interface with Final Cut Pro, for ingest and upload. The Sienna software is tightly integrated with a XenData archive system. ABS-CBN also has an Atempo Time Navigator-based backup system feeding a Quantum Scalar robotic tape library. The primary benefits of the system are data security, on-air robustness, and a file-based news/production workflow from ingest to edit to air.
ABS-CBN’s Redwood City studio is home to a daily news program produced Monday through Friday, as well as a one-hour talk show that’s taped twice a month. The facility has also hosted commercial clients and in-house program segments, and also hosts a handful of corporate events each year. In 2012, the facility may also be used for weekly variety and music programs for its MYX music channel.
“ASG was there to help us switch our editing platforms,” de Leon said. “Since we are not a mainstream company with mainstream budgets, ASG has adapted to our style of equipment acquisition. They have been servicing our needs for a good five years now, and have helped us grow in the right direction.”