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The Ingex Project- an Introduction

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John Fletcher John Fletcher | 13:00 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

I'm John Fletcher, a Senior Engineer working in the Ingex team.  Ingex is a PC-based audio/video recording system that can be used in multi-camera studios instead of video tape recorders.  Tapeless recording systems, such as Ingex, provide a much faster and cheaper means of getting the recordings into the edit.  And having the material in electronic form means you can do lots more with it, for example, putting it on a website for the production team to review.  One of the aims of Ingex is to show that this kind of system can be put together using off-the-shelf IT components and open-source software.

The beginnings of Ingex were back in 2004 on the Children's BBC programme BAMZOOKi.  The producer wanted to avoid all the re-typing of handwritten timing notes that happens when material is copied from video tape into the editing system.  We put together a system that allowed the notes to be made on a PC in the studio gallery.  The process is called logging and collects information such as: Scene 3, take 2 was a good one and is on tape between these times.  With this we were able to automate the process of getting the right material into the edit (known as ingest) but it still involved a lot of video tapes.

We then worked on adding broadcast-quality video recording to the system and this was used for the next series of BAMZOOKi in 2005.  We also provided new facilities for the programme makers such as DVDs of each day's recordings with a detailed menu allowing them to go straight to a particular scene/take/camera.  The video below was produced in 2006 to showcase the Ingex systems use on BAMZOOKi (it can also be downloaded from http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp-pdf-files/whp133-downloads/BBC_RD_Production_Automation_2006.avi

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Since then, we've used Ingex on programmes including EastEnders and Dragons' Den, continually adding new features and refining the workflow.  Right now we're using the system to help produce The Bottom Line, a business discussion programme with output on radio, TV and the web.  The multi-platform aspect means a variety of file formats are needed and the topical nature of the programme means the edit has to be turned around very quickly.  Add to that the need to rig the equipment in a cramped radio studio and Ingex is the ideal solution.

John Fletcher is pictured sitting at a computer terminal, using the Ingex software to manage the ingest of video and audio content during a recording of The Bottom Line
John Fletcher operating Ingex for The Bottom Line

You might have seen that we recently won an Innovation Award from the Royal Television Society.  The judges said Ingex had "without a doubt raised the bar in a dramatic style by expanding the scope of an already proven industry development that will now bring greater efficiency, flexibility and faster production turnaround times to many programme undertakings - and all at a cost that makes it a really practical proposition."

More technical detail on Ingex is available at the Ingex software site, where you can also download the open source licensed software.
 

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