Virgin Media and Red Bee Media have warned broadcasters not to “go the big bang approach” in switching to an entirely tapeless system.

Virgin Media became entirely tapeless last October, after it launched an “end to end” digital system with Red Bee.

The project, which took two years to complete, has already processed more than 35,000 hours of footage, the companies said at the Broadcast Live and Video Forum this morning (January 31).

Sinead Greenaway, director of operations at Virgin Media, said the project was a success because they phased in changes, rather than switching everything over at once.

She urged other television companies looking to ditch tapes altogether to involve all their staff in the change and to brand it with an accessible name so it does not feel like a back end technical operation.

“Culture can be very slow to change, so go for a modular approach and carry everyone with you,” Adey added.

Instead of passing around multiple tapes of the same footage, content is now ingested at Red Bee Media's broadcast centre, copied to the Virgin Media server and immediately made available to all Virgin Media staff.

“It is the ‘ingest once and use many' mantra,” said Dave Adey, Red Bee Media head of business development.

“Programmes are already digitalised at the broadcast centre, so the creative preparation can begin immediately - and because it's the same file, multiple concurrent users can have access to the same programme... There is more time for creativity and ultimately greater speed to market.”

He added that the new system also cut down on shipping and tape duplication costs and improved accountability by logging who has accessed the file and when.