NHL Productions taps Avid ISIS storage for next-generation ‘Hockey Factory’

By Ken Kerschbaumer The National Hockey League is in the midst of not only a transformation on the ice but off the ice as well. Next August it expects to move into a new headquarters at 1186 Sixth Ave. in Manhattan, taking over five floors and consolidating its media operations, from broadcast to broadband to wireless. Even NHL Images will be on site.

“We’re calling it the Hockey Factory,” says Patti Kleinman-Fallick, NHL Group VP, media operations and planning. “All of our assets will be digitized and NHL Productions will be consolidated with all of the other media applications to make it easier to share content.” The heart of the new facility will be An Avid ISIS Unity system and Avid Symphony, Nitris and four Adrenaline HD editing systems. The 8 TB system will store content for editing of game highlights and story packages while a still-to-be-determined larger asset management system will be added for long-term storage.

The new headquarters will also be home to the U.S. version of the NHL Network. A Canadian version currently exists north of the border and Kleinman-Fallick says much of that content will be repurposed for U.S. broadcast.

“The NHL Network is in its fifth season and we expect to take their feed but put in a different ticker, bug and commercials,” says Kleinman-Fallick. The one piece of the Canadian network that isn’t expected to head south are game broadcasts that might not have clearance to be shown on the network.

NHL Productions is already using the Avid system in its current facility in Northvale. N.J. to help the league in its massive effort to re-brand itself and its top players. Beginning in September NHL Productions began shooting player profiles, two-to-four minute packages that will highlight the off-the-field activities of the leagues top stars. By season’s end more than 75 player profiles will be shot on Sony Betacam (for SD) while Panasonic Varicam is grabbing 1080i video. Despite having HD editing capabilities the packages, for now, are being edited in SD. Three packages are shot each week.

“The idea of the features is to let viewers see the players when they aren’t sweating during interviews between periods,” says Kleinman-Fallick. “It’s about creating a new relationship with the players by using storytelling and showing them with their families, hobbies or doing charity work.” NHL TV partners are allowed to cut the profiles up into smaller segments or run them as complete packages. “We supply our partners with monthly melt reels built with the Avid editing systems,” says Kleinman-Fallick.

The move to ISIS (Infinitely Scalable Intelligent Storage) in September was made after NHL Productions found itself maxing out existing Avid Unity servers. The larger ISIS system has made it easier to access content and put together packages. “It’s been a seamless integration and there have been no problems,” says Kleinman-Fallick. “Ascent Media helped with the integration work and we were up and running quickly.”