Digital Tree is a multilingual media “digital powerhouse” with web development, online marketing, creative video production, and design services under one umbrella. Located in the heart of Nicosia, Cyprus’ capital city, Digital Tree’s many branches spread their content to Africa, Asia, Europe, and beyond.
In the opening months of 2020, Digital Tree started working on a new media venture: a first-of-its-kind virtual broadcast network. With a studio to outfit and a global pandemic on the horizon, Digital Tree was on a mission to launch Digital TV, Cyprus’ first hybrid TV channel. And with the help of their EVO media server, the entire operation was up and running in just six months.
Their goal was clear: to create an online broadcast network featuring a variety of morning shows, news broadcasts, cooking and lifestyle programming, and anything else their creative team could envision.
To do that, Digital Tree transformed their two-story production space into a flexible television studio. Multiple sets were constructed with moving backdrops and setpieces, lights were hung with a custom pulley system for adjustable rigging, and their TV studio equipment could be quickly moved throughout the sound stage.
The control room had to be equally well-prepared, though this posed even more of a challenge with both unforeseen logistical and technical issues.
“A lot of things went wrong as we built our online broadcast network,” reflected Chris Yiangou, IT Officer at Digital Tree. “The only thing that went right from the beginning was EVO.”
Easing Digital TV’s Growing Pains
To rein in this evolving TV production workflow, their team needed a top-notch control room with the latest broadcast equipment. Digital Tree called on the expertise of local systems integrator, Kalsedia Engineering, to advise on the equipment needed for such a feat.
Panayiotis Philotheou, Director of Operations at Kalsedia Engineering and the technical designer behind Digital TV’s broadcast studio, knew that storage and networking were of the highest priority.
“Storage is key,” said Philotheou, whose prior experience with SNS products left a lasting impression. “I did not want to compromise with storage and networking. You need to build a very firm foundation. That’s why we went with EVO.”
At Philotheou’s recommendation, Digital TV equipped their new studio with an EVO video editing server.
“The first thing that arrived was our EVO server, and it was everything you’d expect of a turnkey product from SNS,” added Philotheou. “Everything worked right out of the box.”
Digital TV’s EVO quickly became the backbone of the entire operation, particularly when other production equipment was increasingly hard to come by. Global distribution delays and pressure from a short construction timeline caused many headaches for Yiangou and Philotheou. Regardless, the firm foundation of their EVO shared storage system both eased and accelerated the process of launching the online broadcast network.
“EVO held everything together as we brought our vision to life,” said Yiangou, standing in the now completed Digital TV production studio. The studio features JVC PTZ cameras on rolling tripods, various Blackmagic Design broadcast equipment, and a rack-mounted Tools on Air playout box set just below their EVO shared storage server. Several iMac workstations are connected to EVO with editors working in Adobe Premiere Pro video editing software.
To learn more about the Digital TV studio setup, check out our blog post on A Look Inside Digital Tree’s Online Broadcast Studio.
Sharing Media With Purpose
Digital TV’s production process provides hours of high-quality content each week without overwhelming their broadcast editors and post-production staff. To accomplish this, they designed a broadcast editing workflow centered around the EVO suite of software tools, including the powerful and easy-to-use ShareBrowser media asset manager.
ShareBrowser was exactly what Digital TV needed to contain and organize so much media under one roof. Their collaborative video editing workflow with EVO and ShareBrowser allows multiple editors to work on projects simultaneously with secure project locking tools in place to prevent accidental overwriting of in-progress work.
To further enhance collaboration, Digital TV’s creative team frequently shares media across departments using ShareBrowser bins, a simple way to group and share projects and media without duplicating files.
“The simplified sharing process and the easy project control between the editors is priceless,” said George Christofi, Video Editor and Motion Graphics Artist at Digital TV.
Christofi and the post-production team at Digital TV also use ShareBrowser to add tags, comments, and custom metadata to their media files. This metadata is searchable within the database, allowing users to filter through their media to find the perfect footage for their video edits regardless of where the file is located in their storage infrastructure.
“I like the easy search, tags, and bins,” added Christofi, a daily user of the ShareBrowser MAM software at Digital TV. “It is really easy and quick to use with an excellent sharing experience.”
Support Behind the Scenes
As Digital TV’s IT expert, one of Yiagnou’s favorite EVO features is the Slingshot automations engine and API, a time-saving powerhouse improving their TV editing workflow behind the scenes.
“I love Slingshot. It’s so easy to use and make automations,” said Yiangou of the EVO suite staple. “We use Slingshot to constantly upload media to the cloud. We even have Slingshot transcode our media for VOD. And we have programmers testing out the API functionality now.”
Digital TV automatically backs up their media to Microsoft Azure cloud storage with Slingshot’s cloud service integration. Automatic transcoding with Slingshot both prepares their media for VOD deliverables and facilitates a better remote editing workflow for the Digital TV team.
Beyond the support Slingshot provides to their broadcast editing workflow, Digital TV had more to say about the SNS support team.
“Studio Network Solutions support gave us the confidence to try the entire EVO suite,” added Yiangou. “I always get a clear answer from the support team, even for the tiniest question.”
Doros Nicolaides, Technical Manager at Digital TV, added, “I am totally satisfied with EVO, and of course SNS! The support is excellent, efficient, and you guys really appreciate your clients. After sales at its best!”
TV Editing from Anywhere
Building a broadcast network in six months is no small endeavor. Add in a once-in-a-century pandemic, and some may call it impossible. Yet Digital TV was determined to overcome the obstacles they faced, and that started with a new remote video editing workflow.
At first, Yiangou’s team uploaded and downloaded full-sized media from their cloud storage service. This process consumed their bandwidth and ate into their busy production schedule. Upon realizing this bottleneck in their workflow, Digital TV adopted Nomad, EVO’s included remote editing tool.
Nomad helps creative teams retrieve their source media or auto-generated proxy files for remote editing while keeping the file folder structures intact—an important feature that helps editors relink, render, and conform remotely.
“Nomad was a real lifesaver for us,” said Yiangou of his team’s transition to a remote editing workflow. Christofi added that “it kept our workflow uninterrupted.” Nicolaides agreed, echoing “it’s a real lifesaver!”
While their team is now back in the office full-time, Yiangou believes they will continue to use remote editing for emergencies and special circumstances for years to come.
Continuing to Grow
As Philotheou said from the beginning, storage is key for broadcast television production. That message has resonated across various departments at Digital TV ever since they received their EVO shared media storage server.
“EVO is an amazing tool, a real asset for the TV station. It really works flawlessly with no problems at all.”
“EVO is the cornerstone of our network. It holds everything together. Without it, we cannot work.”
“EVO’s performance is exceptional.”
“The way EVO storage was designed is perfect. That’s exactly what the industry needs and what good AV storage requires.”
In the end, Digital Tree built their new TV studio and launched Digital TV, Cyprus’ first hybrid online broadcast network, in just six months. They produce dozens of television programs on a daily basis with ultra-fast turnaround times, and they never miss a beat thanks to their EVO video editing server and the EVO suite of software tools.
To learn more about EVO’s benefits for broadcast television production, schedule an EVO demo today.