Network: Who makes the beat go on?

The real stars of the recent MTV awards were not the ones on stage, but those behind it. By Jennifer Rodger
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THE MTV Awards were broadcast in a customary loud fashion last Thursday. But the glories of the stars had paled even as the opening credits ran on ITV, compared with the triumph of the Unity MediaNet, a not-yet- famous shared media system. Without this recently launched system from Avid (, the ITV broadcast of the awards would not have been ready within half an hour of the ceremony ending.

The Unity MediaNet enables the creative team to work interactively, exchanging work between editing effects, audio and online. Structured this way, a project stays versatile, work can be produced faster and changed up to transmission.

It was the most high-profile use of the Unity MediaNet since it's launch five months ago, and the team had taken just four days to adjust to the system. In the longer term, it may be second nature for the post-production industry. Nonlinear editing systems are common in production, especially with there now being affordable finishing systems. But while they can make work faster, they don't change the work process. Without the shared media system that Avid has designed, each finishing phase still has to be done separately.

With high-bandwidth shared storage and strong administrative control, the Unity MediaNet is a sophisticated connection of nonlinear tools.

Lawrence Fee, technical director of the Yard said: "We looked at a lot of places and many said we could only do it with Avid and Unity. The big thing with Unity is it has the control, it has mummy sitting back there saying who wants what, where, when and how. So you can digitise live. I am a linear boyo, but this couldn't have been done that way. "

It was a familiar tale of cocksure handling of technology. The first half-hour broadcast went with no big problems on the technical side and as the systems speeded up the work flow, the editors used the spare time on creativity.

As a result, instead of feeding the content from tape, they only had time to go live from the digital source - resulting in a comedy moment of checking it was in fact being broadcast on ITV as planned.