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Henan TV Streamlines Programming Over the Cloud

Henan Province is a rich cultural center in China and home to Henan TV. The television station, headquartered in the city of Zhengzhou, broadcasts cultural programming that includes a traditional Chinese character game show, opera performances, and martial arts competitions, as well as other forms of variety entertainment. These shows retain high viewership and ratings from traditional culture lovers throughout China.

Growing Pains

Henan TV’s production teams use Non-Linear Editing (NLE) for variety show production and to create new, more innovative programming. However, staff members were faced with serious equipment and networking problems, especially during peak season when NLE equipment rooms were packed with editors waiting for available workstations.

For variety show editors, creativity and inspiration determine the quality of programming. To improve quality, postproduction editors often go online to gain insights from viewer comments and reviews and to analyze Internet trends.

Most television stations with traditional network architecture separate their production network from their office network. This arrangement requires that editors change workstations to access the Internet, which lowers efficiency and slows down the editing and production process.

Cloud Producing

In October 2015, Henan TV launched its new HD production and broadcasting cloud platform using Huawei's cloud technology. The production of over 100 variety show programs and the compression and editing of TV series for all nine channels now run on a private cloud platform. Computing and storage resources are dynamically allocated between different services to separate them from devices, and editing is separated from rendering. The entire system cuts costs tremendously by using only about 30 blade servers compared to the more than 80 servers and 100 editing workstations in the traditional architecture.

Huawei used its experience with open clouds to develop a distributed media cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform that supports professional video processing for radio and television services. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions provider also designed specialized optimization for different application scenarios on a universal ICT cloud platform.

Global Processing Units (GPUs) and other virtualization technologies used in video production typically present significant challenges to cloud computing. For instance, Henan TV uses 120 Mbit/s full-HD resolution for variety shows, with postproduction editing scenarios involving many special effects. These demands make the implementation of a universal cloud platform difficult.

For example, to resolve difficulties using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in the production or office area or for postproduction HD editing at home, Huawei enhanced its HDP desktop protocol. Smart recognition technology distinguishes the video, text, borders, menus, and lines processed using the NLE application software. Algorithms like H.264 video compression, LZ4 lossless text compression, and JPEG lossless image compression are then applied to corresponding video, text, and photos.

This process ensures picture quality while reducing the bandwidth and latency at the desktop end of the virtual machine for optimized editing. At the same time, when combined with optimized GPU virtualization technology, a single blade and K2 GPU video card can virtualize four HD editing cloud desktops, with each cloud desktop able to produce more than four tracks of 120 Mbit/s HD video as well as three tracks containing dynamic subtitles and lyrics.

Huawei has also provided a network adaptive technology that can dynamically and intelligently detect the status of the access terminal’s network. Optimal picture quality is automatically adjusted according to bandwidth quality at home or at the office. In public networks, the desktop transport bandwidth can reach up to 5 Mbit/s. This means that Henan TV editors with 10 Mbit/s (or faster) fiber access in their homes can easily work on program production.

To ensure that multiple editors had a place to work after the deployment of the desktop cloud, Henan TV implemented a new pool-based HD NLE system. As long as resources are available in the NLE pool, editors can freely use any work-station. To maximize equipment usage efficiency and ensure that reporters off premises are still not occupying any NLE virtual workstations, Huawei’s cloud management platform restores NLE resources back to the pool according to the configured policy. If the keyboard and mouse are idle for a predefined period of time, the platform determines that the reporter has left the NLE workstation and automatically saves project files using Sobey and Dayang software. The NLE workstation then logs out, and resources are returned to the pool.

A Future Transformed

The development of HD editing cloud desktops enables the production area for programming to expand into the office area and even into home-based workstations. This increases the efficiency of Henan TV’s postproduction editors by providing them with smooth connections to the new media environment and station-wide network system.

Henan television production has come a long way since the Jet Li film Shaolin Temple was shot in Henan province back in the mid-1970s. As an advocate of traditional Chinese culture, Henan TV can now improve the efficiency of its production methods and create quality programs for an audience that will continue to grow.

By Hu Yueqing

Industry Marketing Execution Department, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

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