The 4K Production Workflow of Nippon Television Network
Japanese broadcaster, Nippon Television Network, implements a cost-effective solution based on Adobe Creative Cloud to create a dynamic and efficient workflow for ultra-high definition 4K broadcasts.
When the first 4K channel in Japan, Channel 4K, began test broadcasts, it started by airing live musical performances, travelogues, and sports broadcasts provided for free by members of the Next Generation Television & Broadcasting Promotion Forum. Since then, broadcasters have started to produce their own 4K programming , but the equipment remains costly. In addition, transcoding and outputting programs takes a great deal of time.
Originally a format developed for feature-length films, 4K was not intended for television programming where high volume production is valued. To begin introducing original 4K content in the broadcast space, Nippon Television Network Corporation (Nippon TV) developed a 4K programming production workflow using Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.
The benefits of enterprise licenses
Since 1953, when Nippon TV became the first commercial television broadcaster in Japan, Nippon TV has entertained audiences with excellent programming, from professional sports to scripted dramas. Nippon TV first deployed Adobe Creative Cloud for 4K productions in the technical operations department of the engineering & technology division. This department handles a wide variety of operations, including CG, data broadcasts, media conversion, and remote subsystems. The department’s office space is filled with computers—some loaded with Autodesk Softimage to create CG infographics, while others are used to develop other graphics displayed within programs.
When deciding between teams or enterprise licensing, the technical operations department chose to work with Creative Cloud for enterprise. “For security reasons, our work computers are not connected to the Internet so the enterprise license was a better fit for us,” says Ayato Fujii, CG designer for the technical operations department, engineering & technology division. “Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise includes all of the design tools we need:Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and After Effects CC.”
“We have always used Adobe creative software, and now Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise offers us a cost- effective way to provide everyone with the applications they need,” adds Toru Fujihara, associate managing director of the technical operations department, engineering & technology division. Yasuo Tsutsumi, CG designer in the graphic design department at the Nippon Television Art Media Design Center adds, “With Adobe Creative Cloud, we can install a full range of creative software onto all of our designers’ computers, which has everyone very excited.”
Developing high-quality 4K content
The technical operations department deployed Creative Cloud for enterprise on the workstations of all designers. The Creative Cloud implementation provided an opportunity to also switch from EDIUS editing systems to Adobe Premiere Pro CC to reduce costs, add integration with After Effects CC, and support the Grass Valley HQ/HQX codecs. “We do a great deal of CG work for our TV broadcasts,” says Fujii. “By using the Grass Valley HQ codec with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, we can attach 4K monitors to our work computers to create true 4K machines that leverage Adobe’s support for cutting-edge hardware and standards.”
Designing a new environment
One of the first 4K programs Fujihara worked to develop for Nippon TV using Creative Cloud was a video art exhibit across three 4k screens recreating the famous stone garden at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. The video was displayed in the “Kyoto from Inside and Outside: Scenes on Panels and Folding Screens” special exhibit at Tokyo National Museum. Nippon TV designers used Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop CC to pull the footage together and give visitors a taste of Ryoanji Temple across four seasons.
Shooting at Ryoanji Temple started one year before the exhibition. At the time, Nippon TV did not have an environment that could view 4K footage so the team decided to implement a turnkey system that supported 4K in native resolution. One of the deciding factors for the system was that it also needed to support 60 frames per second.
“We produced the Ryoanji Temple footage in 30p, so there was no need for 60p support for that project,” says Fujihara. “However, we knew that we would need 60p support for future broadcasts that may involve fast motion, such as sports programming. By deploying Creative Cloud on Windows workstations loaded with Epoch 4K Supernova cards from BlueFish, we achieved a system similar to turnkey systems.”
Pitching live baseball broadcasts
Another project driven by Nippon TV was a broadcast of the October 2013 professional baseball match between the Yomiuri Giants and the Yakult Swallows in Tokyo Dome recorded using four 4K cameras and one high-speed camera. Unlike other types of content, baseball broadcasts fill a very long slot in the schedule.
First, Nippon TV shot the action in Tokyo Dome using five cameras, four of which recorded in SR-Lite mode on Sony’s Simple Studio Profile (SStP) codec. Next, the team edited the 4K footage on the Premiere Pro CC timeline and exported the final program in XAVC format. “When we started on our programs, Premiere Pro CC was one of the only applications that could output in XAVC format,” says Fujihara. “We knew we wanted to use XAVC output from the start, but being able to use Premiere Pro CC through final delivery really helped our workflow. We could not have produced the two 4K videos without Premiere Pro CC.”
Fujii concludes, “From a creator’s point of view, it’s a chance we couldn’t pass up. We’re glad to have Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise to help us continue to push the creativity limits of our production broadcasts.”