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Saturday Belongs to SBE and File-Based Workflow

The Ennes Engineering Program has been the single largest gathering of broadcast engineers in one room for many years.

This is the first in a series of day-by-day profiles of sessions at the Broadcast Engineering Conference.

The authors of this article are the executive director and communications manager of SBE.

The Ennes Engineering Program, held in conjunction with the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas, has been the single largest gathering of broadcast engineers in one room for many years.

Ennes is the not-for-profit Educational Trust under the auspices of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. The workshop is supported by and attended by members of PBS and NPR, among others. Ennes also conducts a series of traveling one-day programs around the country.

Last year the Ennes program traveled to Sacramento, New York, Boston, Tampa and Atlanta. The programs are both radio and TV. If your SBE chapter is interested in an Ennes program, or your company wishes to volunteer a speaker, contact the SBE home office while this year’s programs are coming together.

Ennes also provides for scholarships and support of the SBE Education Committee’s efforts, SBE publications, and more. Check out


The NAB event is held Saturday, two days before the exhibition floor opens. This year’s “early bird tutorial” begins at 8 a.m. on April 12. Admission requires full convention registration, available at a discount to SBE members; or PBS admission.

“File-based workflow” is the topic for the SBE’s Ennes Workshop at NAB. This is the last NAB convention in the analog TV era, and that means virtually everyone is looking at their workflow as the world of multichannel, multimedia and the all-digital facility come into view.

Admittedly, of all the topics presented in the past, this is the most TV-centric. On the other hand, nothing in broadcast workflow is entirely TV or radio.

Likewise, the people who put these programs together are all broadcast engineers, and almost all have worked in both radio and TV, some in even more specialized forms of broadcast. Broadcast engineers need to be proficient in skills and knowledge of workflow basics, IT in general and the issues surrounding station operations, no matter what branch of the industry one is working in at the moment.

The Ennes program is unusual in the industry in that it actively seeks and invites specific speakers, rather than asking for volunteers. The presenters spend a great deal of time and energy putting together their programs.

Because they are all tutorials, this work is done with education as its objective. It is a great testament to the industry and the support of broadcast engineers that so many busy people are willing to go to such lengths to support this program.

Many of our presenters can be found in the pages of various trade journals and are involved in advanced and exciting broadcast projects.


The day begins with a full hour of the basics at 8 a.m., with the traditional tutorial, “File-Based Workflow 101,” presented by Harlan Neugeboren.

Neugeboren is the CEO of The Workflow Technology Group and consults a large number of clients in creating and fine-tuning their operational workflows.

Following at 9 a.m., Jim O’Brien presents “Cross-Platform Work Flow” dealing with the practical reality of facilities with Macs and Windows, MXF and QuickTime and the other legacy and station specific pieces that make up a real-world facility.

He is the president of Building4Media and among other things designed and built 14 TV networks and assisted in another 125 TV networks in 31 countries.

Al Kovalick, a strategist and Pinnacle Fellow who has spoken at Ennes before, returns to present “Video Timing and Synchronization in a Web Services Environment” at 9:55 a.m. Al wrote what most consider the first book on the subject of tapeless workflow.

Next at 10:35 a.m., Brad Gilmer, the executive director of the Advanced Media Workflow Association, presents “Understanding and Describing File-based Workflow.” Brad is also the editor-in-chief of the File Interchange Handbook and authors a monthly trade magazine column.

At 11:20 a.m., Chris Lennon, chairman and founder of SMPTE’s S22-10 group, presents “Broadcast eXchange Format.” BXF is a part of almost any discussion of workflow

“Implementing Workflow Changes,” presented by John Luff, follows at 1:30 p.m. Founder of Synergistic Technologies Inc., now part of Azcar, his work has been implementing workflow changes for a number of facilities. Luff will describe a holistic approach for managing the change.

Continuing at 2:15 p.m., John Footen, vice president at National TeleConsultants, presents “Business Process Analysis.”

Next, Mike Wellings, the engineering director for the ResearchChannel Consortium, leads the presentation “Codec Performance” at 3 p.m. He has done extensive research into HD codec performance. This visual presentation will give you an opportunity to see the effects of various codecs and compression on content, an integral part of the file-based workflow process.

OmniBus Systems’ John Wadle will explore the impact and benefits of deploying a software-based transmission system in conjunction with file-based content workflows at 3:45 p.m. with “File-Based Transmission Process.” This presentation follows the acquisition, preparation and storage of content, and the important execution of secondary events.

The day is finished with Pathfire’s CTO Joe Fabiano with “Pathfire’s Distribution of Files and the Impact on File-Based Workflow.” The last piece of the workflow puzzle is getting the content and metadata distributed to the playout facilities. Fabiano was a member of Pathfire’s original start up team, and a name associated with content distribution from the beginning.

Toss in Al Kovalick’s “History of the Second” at lunchtime — a history of the development of timekeeping from water clocks to cesium fountain clocks to GPS and SMPTE 12M — and it becomes one full day of tutorials on the key pieces of file-based workflow with many of the most knowledgeable and experienced players in the field.

For a broadcast engineer, whatever the specific responsibilities, this workshop is the place for beneficial learning. Past feedback shows attendees agree that the NAB Ennes Workshop is well worth the time and effort to attend.