Streamlining Photo Publishing For A News Agency


Our client was one of the largest national news agencies.


When photographers work at sporting events, the workflow to get a shot from the photojournalist’s camera to the new agency’s website can be quite involved. Typically, the picture first gets transmitted from a Wi-Fi enabled digital camera to a local computer, for example, the photographer’s own laptop. From there, it is uploaded to the agency’s server, where the photo editor further processes it as needed and uploads to the website or makes it otherwise available for consumption.


The agency’s existing photo solution had a couple of serious drawbacks. First of all, the system only supported a single photojournalist per event. Additionally, it was too slow: the process form the click of the shutter to the image being available on the site took 8 minutes. First Line was contracted to develop the new product called Blitz, to replace the existing system.


First Line’s engineers designed and implemented a brand new photo management system specifically geared towards large-scale events. The system supports multiple users (photojournalists), whose cameras send images in real time, as they are being taken, to a local server. Once the images are on the local computer, the system generates lightweight previews that are immediately available to the photo editor. The editor can then select the images for publication, manipulate them (crop, rotate, etc.), after which the original, high-resolution images are transferred and can be published with a single click. Additionally, since the new system supports multiple photographers, the editor can quickly search and select the incoming images by metadata, such as the photographer’s name or location.


The new system was tested at multiple sporting events throughout the country in preparation for the ultimate test. The time required to publish a photo has been reduced from 8 minutes to 90 seconds, allowing for seamless timely publication of many thousands of gorgeous photos as our client worked to provide round-the-clock multimedia coverage.

Blitz was also used to support the Second Screen app, one of the agency’s most advanced products created together with Channel One. Second Screen allowed TV viewers to receive extra statistics, replays, still shots and other pertinent information on their smartphone or tablet in addition to the main coverage of Olympic events as they were watching them on their TVs. Blitz was used to feed still shots to Second Screen in real time.


iOS, C++, Qt 4, SQLite3, ImageMagick, Magick++, PHP, Symfony, PostgreSQL, WebDAV, web services

Project statistics

Team size: 5

Total effort: 24 person-months

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