Telefe: Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 4K HDR
Some stations need decades to develop a solid position in a territory. However, others succeed in doing so in a short period of time through well thought-out programming and creation of a relationship of trust with their viewers. Telefe was born in 1990 and it is nowadays positioned as the number one station by number of viewers in Argentina.
TM Broadcast had the opportunity to interview Gustavo A. Embon, broadcasting senior manager, in order to talk about the latest developments in this TV station.
Text by Sergio Julián
In spite of being still a young undertaking, Telefe has become firmly established as the most successful TV station in all Argentina. Is your technological performance to blame for this success?
Next year, Telefe will be turning 30. And during these 30 years, we have maintained an indisputable leadership in the industry, resulting from great teamwork in all Company areas.
From a technological point of view, 10 years ago we initiated a deep technological renewal process that has been facilitated in the last 3 years by the architecture simplification we promoted. During this stage we have updated and implemented significant advances in our technical infrastructure, which enabled us to improve processes and achieve a quality leap for our products in their different platforms.
Some milestones to highlight:
- Centralization of our operating plants in Buenos Aires: which entailed moving our TOM and MCR to the Telefe’s new technological compound and operating centre in Martinez (Buenos Aires), especially designed and implemented by our team of professionals with the aim of meeting the highest international standards relating the TV industry for both broadcast and creation of content.
- Investing in technology for Broadcasting and Content Production: said transfer of facilities brought as well the required CAPEX investments for implementation of Argentina’s best technological hub, featuring state-of-the art equipment. Specifically for the Broadcasting area, our Engineering department led the design and implementation of the new TOM and Master Control Room, which also entailed the installation of switches, servers, video arrays, management and monitoring systems aimed at ensuring the best quality and security for our multiplatform broadcast station.
- Content Production: In this field, we have revamped our facilities with the opening of 3 next-generation 100m2 Control Rooms, and we are now in the process of installing an 4th Control Room. This added to the 2 Controls already dedicated to digital productions. WE have 11 Studios ranging between 600 and 1200m2 and two small studios allocated for digital production. We are equipping them with LED lighting and, for production of Fiction we have purchased several 4K cameras with HDR capabilities.
What TV channels does Telefe operate?
In Buenos Aires, we generate 3 signals: Telefe Capital (which is seen in the federal capital and the metropolitan area), Telefe Interior (satellite broadcast for cable operators throughout the country) and Telefe Internacional (satellite broadcast for cable operators abroad).
Domestically, we have 8 TV channels for open broadcast: Telefe Rosario (channel 5), Telefe Neuquén (channel 7), Telefe Córdoba (channel 8), Telefe Mar del Plata (channel 8), Telefe Tucumán (channel 8), Telefe Bahía Blanca (channel 9), Telefe Salta (channel 11) and Telefe Santa Fe (channel 13).
We gather that the structure is designed under SDI. Are you contemplating a mixed model or do you have in mind converting to IP?
Although at present the structure is thought out for SDI, our Engineering department has always envisioned going into a mixed setup, depending on the progress and security offered by IP workflows. In fact, we are now testing this technology for combined implementation. We believe this could provide us with an increased flexibility for sharing resources amongst internal clients.
High definition is already a reality for Telefe. However, Santiago Guimerans, pointed out that as of January 2019 all production would be done in 4K. Have these expectations been met? In which camera manufacturers are you relying for producing this content?
Yes, expectations generated by the goal proposed by Santiago were met and even exceeded, as we are now producing our new content under 4K HDR with the highest quality standards being required by the industry. We are using Sony cameras at present.
For the time being, we understand that 4K is being exclusively used for storage and potential distribution to platforms. Is being 4K content being converted to HD?
No, actually capture is done in 4K and HD simultaneously. The 4K HDR version is used for achieving the best quality in content for subsequent distribution and storage. The HD version is used for editing with re-link to material in 4K and for playout in traditional broadcast ways.
You cover vast regions and we imagine that your continuity must be quite complex. What system are you using and what challenges are involved?
At our MCR we have available an automation system (Aveco) featuring redundant management servers in order to control master switches (GV and Ross), routers (Evertz), broadcast servers (Harmonic) and graphic display systems (Vizrt) amongst others. In this particular area, we have streamlined workflows and achieved a very high automation level, which ensures us a broadcast with nearly zero percent on screen errors. This process covers as well integration of our Traffic and Broadcast systems, thus optimizing as much as possible selling and monitoring times for advertising pattern.
It must be the same with your MAM system, as it covers so many regions and broadcasters. What solution are you using? Is the MAM unified for all branches?
We are at present using as MAM the solution offered by Dalet, both for sharing Telefe’s brand media (fiction, news, entertainment, etc.) among all our production and archiving workflows and for integrating delivery of content between Telefe and the various clients (internal and external).
Your news programs are the leading ones. A trend seen now in this area is the insertion of graphics and virtual reality and augmented reality tools. Are you implementing these features?
Right, we are using the N-CAM augmented reality system, in principle for our news editions. The image aggregation provided by this system was very interesting for the coverage of the Argentinean presidential elections.
Another field we could recently review in the IBC show is the introduction of automated production solutions. Are you studying this field?
No, we are not studying for now this kind of solutions, although we are increasingly relying on autonomous technology that will enable us to become more competitive and efficient at the same time.
More trends: Artificial Intelligence. Have any of these systems been used for areas such as subtitling or automatic indexing?
In the Broadcasting area we are now analyzing the progress seen in Closed Caption automation systems. Although they are not yet perfect, we have noticed a marked progress there and we believe that they will be shortly ready for implementation in our signals.
How is Telefe’s a-la-carte service? We would like you to give me more details on the integration between Mi Telefe and Telefe.com.
These platforms are managed from the Digital Content area and we specifically collaborate with generation of live streaming that can be consumed within the platforms. Mi Telefe and Telefe.com are just platform options for users, but both of them feature the same contents. When someone becomes a registered user, they can start to watch content in any of these platforms and resume viewing the same in a different platform from the time that playout was paused, that is, both platforms work as an OTT of Telefe.