DCTV Editors and Techs Pioneer New Affordable HD Digital Workflow

Publish date:

New York, NY

- At DCTV, editors and technical staff have invented yet another way of serving productions and clients. For one of DCTV’s latest broadcast productions, they faced a new challenge: producing an HD broadcast-quality master from mixed-format sources under budget and on time. Rather than unnecessarily spending thousands of dollars on new equipment, DCTV technical staff found a way to use existing resources to their fullest capabilities. Downtown Community Television Center, in addition to being widely recognized as New York City’s first and only Center for Independent Media, is an independent film producer on par with Boston’s WGBH and New York’s own Channel 13. For over 35 years, DCTV has been assisting thousands of aspiring filmmakers in all aspects of media production: offering classes and workshops to underprivileged youth and seasoned professionals alike, screening new material, renting equipment and post-production facilities and a full-service television studio. DCTV productions, such as the legendary Baghdad E.R. or the acclaimed Alive Day Memories, have touched thousands of viewers, but new trends in broadcasting have made it clear that to stay current, DCTV must go HD. HD production has taken the industry by storm, and many producers and post facilities are having to restructure and reinvest in new equipment to keep up with rapidly evolving technology. As a not-for-profit, however, one of DCTV’s primary concerns is providing the best services to productions and clients at a minimal cost. Fortunately, when faced with the challenge of creating a system for five editors to work simultaneously using the same mixed-format High-Definition video assets, DCTV’s Post-Production Manager, Dag Bennstrom, and editor David Meneses rose to the occasion. “[Shared media editing] is not a novel idea,� said Meneses, “people do this all the time, but for the amount of money with which we’re doing it, that’s the impressive side.� “Another system is a good ten-fold more expensive than what we have,� said Bennstrom; “people usually use fiber optics for this sort of thing, because you have to have enough bandwidth to maintain the video stream. Fiber costs a lot of money, though, because you need special hardware to encode and decode it and a fiber hub. All you need for our solution is the computers you’ve already paid for and an Ethernet switch.� The solution lay in a technology called “Link Aggregation,� a method by which data is transferred between the video file server and the editing stations over two Ethernet connections simultaneously. This, combined with the data rate afforded by a RAID array, gives each editor to have as fast a connection as they need to access the shared video assets. Once set up, the editing process is as seamless as if the files were stored locally. “But the beauty of it is,� said Meneses, “that if editor #1 digitizes some footage onto the server, all he has to do is share an XML file that references the master clips within Final Cut, then we import them into our system and automatically have access without needing to duplicate it. The immediacy of it is what’s saving us a lot of time.� The newest feature is currently in post-production at DCTV and Bennstrom and Meneses’s editing system has allowed the team to work faster and in a more coordinated fashion than ever before. With footage centralized on a server, the entire process, importing, transcoding, editing and outputting has been streamlined, giving them the freedom to respond to the producer’s requirements, the introduction of new formats, and the power to take more creative license. With little investment in additional hardware, the tech staff of DCTV have created a system that rivals those in the top-tier post houses. The result is a workflow that is efficient, reliable and, most importantly, accessible. DCTV has a history of putting professional tools into the hands of people who might not otherwise have access to them. With a little inspiration and a lot of ingenuity, Dag Bennstrom, Dave Meneses and DCTV have done it again. ABOUT DOWNTOWN COMMUNITY TELEVISION CENTER: DCTV is the most honored independent nonprofit media center in the nation. DCTV’s productions reach over 100 million viewers each year and have received fifteen National Emmys, two Student Emmys, two DuPont-Columbia Awards, a Peabody, and every other major prize in the broadcast field. DCTV consistently produces some of the best and most important documentaries about issues in America and around the world. For over thirty years, DCTV has offered, and continues to offer, unique programs for inner-city youth, community programs, affordable workshops in digital media, production facilities, and equipment rentals. For more information, visit


. ### DCTV, 87 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013 | 212-966-4510 |


Press Inquires: Jesse Garrison,


, 212-966-4510x257



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