Broadcast Pix User Reports
ev1.tv Delivers News, Live Sports Coverage with Broadcast Pix
ev1.tv, a local TV station covering the Emsland and Grafschaft Bentheim district in Lower Saxony, German, is using a Granite™ 5000 Video Control Center in the control room of its brand-new studio and a Slate™ 1000 Video Control Center in its OB van. Primarily, the station uses its systems to produce a daily newscast and talk show in the studio, while the production van is used to cover football games.
“In fact, everything you see on ev1.tv is produced with Granite or Slate,” said Nico Stähle, chief engineer for ev1.tv, which distributes its programming via cable and online. The new Broadcast Pix systems were purchased last summer through Studio Hamburg Media Consult International (MCI), which handled the Granite installation (Stähle installed the Slate in the production van).
Stähle said he chose Granite because he needed a 2 M/E mixer that was easy to operate. “For us, there’s no other bundle of hardware with the cost effectiveness of Granite or Slate,” he explained. “We can operate all components from the panel with no need for other external equipment. Plus, Granite fits perfectly in our workflow with our Final Cut Pro workstations.”
ev1.tv uses a number of Fluent™ built-in workflow tools in both systems, including the animation store and Harris CG to create animated lower-thirds. Fluent-View is used to display all sources and keys on a 52-inch LCD monitor in the control room, and Stähle appreciates the “attention to detail,” such as the integrated clock in the display.
“We do a lot with Fluent Macros,” Stähle added. “For example, for the open of our news show, the intro starts and automatically fades to the camera in the studio, the lower-third appears, fades away, and cuts to another camera. We also use a macro for the end of the show to display a crawl and other titles on an animated background.”
Programming is currently produced in SD, but Stähle noted there is no problem upgrading to HD or a mixed HD/SD production environment with Granite. With several months of productions complete, he said the Broadcast Pix systems have performed very well. “No problems at all,” Stähle said. “It is so easy to operate that, with the help of some macros, even our trainees can run a news show.”
Mountain Lake PBS Upgrades Control Room to HD with
Broadcast Pix Granite 5000 Live Video Production System
Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based Mountain Lake PBS (WCFE) has installed a Granite™ 5000 live video production system as part of its transition to full HD production and distribution. Completed in March, the updated control room and studio produces a variety of local programs, including the weekly Mountain Lake Journal newsmagazine.
The PBS member station serves the Burlington-Plattsburgh market (DMA #95), which includes areas of Vermont, New York, and Quebec. Director of engineering Charlie Zarbo said the studio and control room upgrades were the final stage of the station’s HD migration, which began with master control in 2007. The Granite 5000, purchased through HB Communications, replaced an aging Grass Valley 200 switcher. The HD upgrade also included new Hitachi Z-HD5000 studio cameras, Clear-Com intercom system, and Yamaha DM2000VCM digital audio mixer.
Zarbo has been very pleased with the Granite 5000 and is a fan of its PixButtons, which dynamically display sources and file names. “The control surface is nice, pretty intuitive. Whatever changes you make are reflected in the PixButtons, which is nice,” he said. “It’s got very good bang for the buck. Broadcast Pix does it all in one box at a very attractive price. We like it a lot.”
Beyond its 2 M/E switcher , Granite 5000 provides Mountain Lake PBS with a number of integrated Fluent™ workflow tools, including a clip store that is used regularly for productions. Although Granite includes a built-in Inscriber GS CG, Zarbo said the station produces its graphics with Adobe Photoshop, then easily transfers them to Granite via Fluent Watch-Folders.
Mountain Lake PBS replaced its CRT monitor wall with two 50-inch LCDs, which are fed by Granite’s built-in Fluent-View, providing a complete display for the technical director and producer. The control room also has smaller monitors for dedicated CG and audio use that are also fed by Fluent-View.
Zarbo said Fluent-View is very easy to arrange, so every TD tends to create their own on-screen look. “It’s very flexible,” he explained. “You can create a layout, save it, and recall it for a specific shoot.”
WHYY-TV Adds Broadcast Pix Granites to Control Room, Training Facility
PBS member station WHYY-TV in Philadelphia (DMA #4) has installed Broadcast Pix ™ Granite™ 5000 live video production systems in two control rooms. Earlier this year, WHYY added Granite when it converted the control room in its Content Production Center (CPC) into a flexible, multimedia resource for live production and more. Granite is also at the heart of the Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons, an 8,000-square-foot interactive learning environment that opened last summer.
“We are delighted with both of our Granite systems,” said Bill Weber, vice president and CTO for WHYY Public Media. “They give us plenty of bang for our buck and greatly reduced our equipment costs. Plus, Granite is a very stable, high quality production switcher, and provides the tools we need for sophisticated live multi-camera video programs and event productions.“
The control rooms in both areas, along with various other systems within the Commons, were designed by RJC Designs, Inc., a Maryland-based technology consulting firm. In the Commons, which includes classrooms, field equipment, and multi-station editing rooms, a large, flexible multimedia studio space can host community and membership events, interactive seminars, or accommodate a live audience of up to 300 people. “With Granite’s built-in Fluent workflow tools, we can create a fantastic multimedia room experience for organizations that lease the Commons for diverse special events,” Weber explained.
In the CPC, WHYY produces a number of original programs, including First, a 30-minute newsmagazine that was recently named best television newscast in Delaware by the Delaware Press Association. However, the station does not produce a daily nightly newscast, so in the past the control room was dark much of the time.
“To leverage the capital investment in the space, we decided to take a unique approach to the design of our new HD control room,” said Weber. “Instead of the traditional consoles, we installed a collection of ‘activity pods’ that can be used together during a production or used independently for content creation when the studio is not in use. Broadcast Pix Granite made the configuration possible because of its unique approach to file management.”
Granite is the heart of the Visual Image Pod, which is located near the monitor wall and serves as the technical director’s station. A small audio mixer is positioned next to the production switcher control panel, though the station added a separate audio room with a multi-function audio processing system for more complicated projects. Other pods in the control room are tasked for ingest and library management, graphics, and producers.
WHYY is also developing a Web Pod to support the creation and streaming of a second program that is different from the broadcast production, plus provide a direct workflow to social networking tools and additional resources to improve our online presence. “With 2 M/E and multiple outputs, Granite gives us the functionality we need,” Weber added.
Turner Studios Uses Broadcast Pix Slate 3000 to Create Second Screen Experience for NBA and NASCAR
Fluent Workflow Software Enables Cost-Effective, Streamlined Production for Webcasts
Turner Studios, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. in Atlanta, Ga., is now using the Broadcast Pix Slate™ 3000 integrated production system with Fluent™ workflow tools to produce an innovative “second screen” experience for sports fans.
Accessible via Web or mobile devices, live webcasts complement Turner Sports’ live NBA basketball and NASCAR coverage on TNT. While watching the live event, viewers can log on to “TNT Overtime” on NBA.com or TNT.tv, or “TNT RaceBuddy” on NASCAR.com or TNT.tv, and see additional HD camera views of the live action, as well as timely scores, stats, and exclusive interviews. The Slate 3000 is located within the broadcast TV compound, and its integrated router receives feeds from all of Turner Sports’ HD broadcast cameras covering the live event, as well as unique, dedicated cameras and coverage exclusively for broadband.
“The Slate 3000 is a great solution for ‘TNT Overtime’ and ‘TNT RaceBuddy’ because it lets a single operator control all aspects of the webcasts, as well as up to five simultaneously streamed outputs, all from a single, compact system,” said Bill Chapman, vice president of creative development/emerging technologies for Turner Studios.
Using the system’s SoftPanel and custom programmed macros, part of the Fluent Team Control toolset that allows access and control via a Flash-based user interface and Web browser on a PC or Mac, Chapman can work from any location. “Rather than having to resort to a conventional HD production switcher and control room, which would add considerably to the cost and complexity of this cutting-edge Web application, I can direct these multi-camera shows from a touch screen interface, or on my laptop, from virtually any remote location,” he added. “If I decide to work from a remote location, like my office, the network connection to the Slate doesn’t need to be robust because I’m only sending the commands, not a heavy HD video load.”
Two of the four on-screen windows on “TNT Overtime” feature cameras following specific players, while one of the “TNT RaceBuddy” windows is a viewer-selected in-car camera. Featured NBA players can change every quarter, while NASCAR drivers can change every 50 laps. The online audience decides which players and drivers they want to see by voting on the “TNT Overtime” and “TNT RaceBuddy” sites. The other windows showcase different camera perspectives of the basketball court or racetrack, including unique commentary from courtside or Pit Lane.
“The Slate doesn’t just remember switcher moves, it recalls all of the set-ups you’ve customized for the needs of a particular production, including multi-view monitoring, router inputs/outputs, and camera and playout settings,” said Chapman. “One person can do the work of three people, serving as the technical director, graphics, and video operators – and one system provides a great array of HD resources. Without Slate, our multi-screen Webcasts wouldn’t be as flexible or creative.”
Over six NASCAR races this year, “TNT RaceBuddy” drew an average of 492,000 unique visitors per race and delivered a total of 2.4 million live streams. Also, during Game 5 of the 2008/2009 NBA Playoffs, “TNT Overtime” delivered 768,143 streams and 78,565 “uniques;” while Game 4 delivered more than 700,000 streams. Because of their interactive nature, the sites offer an effective platform for advertisers to reach their prime targets.
“I’m able to import all the integrated ads, graphics, and other media content for the show from the Internet right into the Slate’s still and clips stores at game time, and then manage them from within the system,” Chapman explained. “I can switch all the cameras for this multi-screen presentation with a simple touch screen, as well as create the lower third supers and transitional graphics and roll them in at the appropriate times.”
Broadcast Pix Slate 1000 Helps WTNH and WCTX
Produce Connecticut High School Sports in HD
Cost-Effective Remote Operation Makes Community Connection, Attracts New Advertising
WTNH-DT and WCTX-DT, two LIN TV stations in New Haven, Conn., have chosen the Broadcast Pix Slate™ 1000 integrated production system to produce select high school sporting events around the state in HD. WTNH, an ABC affiliate, and WCTX, a MyNetworkTV affiliate, operate as a duopoly from the same facility and serve the Hartford/New Haven market, which is ranked as the 30th DMA in the nation.
In an effort to be more competitive, LIN TV decided a year ago that it would be beneficial for its stations to produce high school sports. As the first in the group to take up the challenge, WTNH/WCTX began by evaluating its production options. After evaluating competing systems and rental options, station officials recognized the value of the Slate 1000, which integrates the functionality of a video switcher with Fluent™ file-based and network-based workflow tools, including a multi-viewer, Inscriber CG, clip and graphic stores, and aspect and format conversion.
”We found that renting a mobile unit—at about $12,000 per event—would be too costly, and building our own large mobile unit with a separate switcher and other dedicated gear would be cost-prohibitive,” said Jamie Holowaty, Live Broadcast Manager for WTNH and WCTX. “But because the Slate 1000 packs a control room full of gear into one low-cost, compact, energy efficient unit, it enables us to produce broadcast-quality HD shows from a small 20-foot production trailer we built for under $175,000.”
Working closely with Broadcast Pix dealer Access A/V in Concord, N.H., Holowaty supervised the installation of the Slate 1000 as the centerpiece of the company’s new Markertek VPTR-1 20-foot mobile production trailer. Other equipment includes three Sony PMW-EX3 XDCAM EX HD camcorders and Sony HVR-1500A HDV/DVCAM VTRs. Plus, a Mac Book Pro with Final Cut Pro records footage directly from the Slate 1000 to external drives for editing. The trailer also features uplink and microwave capabilities.
“The Slate 1000 isn’t just enabling us to do high school sports in high-def, it’s making it profitable because it’s extremely cost, space, and energy efficient,” said Holowaty. “With production quality rivaling that of top sports networks, we’re attracting a strong, loyal, family audience, as well as new advertisers that see the value in supporting this hyper-local, community-oriented programming. We’re strengthening our stations’ market identity while producing compelling local programming that feeds both our on-air and online operations.”
The Slate 1000 features include robotic camera control, so the stations use a Sony BRC-H700 robotic camera for the shot clock, which reduces crew requirements. WTNH/WCTX also use CG Connect, an optional feature that automates the insertion and updating of statistical data in live sports graphics. While the Slate 1000 is configured as a 1 M/E switcher, Holowaty said the built-in macros can be programmed to expand the switcher’s functionality.
Last fall, Friday night high school football games were streamed live on the stations’ websites, then aired in HD during primetime the following night. “This spring, we’ve been maximizing our investment in the Slate 1000 and trailer by covering both boys’ and girls’ basketball games, and we’re thinking about expanding our program schedule to include high school swimming, baseball, and track events,” added Holowaty. “We’re also considering using the trailer for community events, such as parades and political debates, and taking our daily, half-hour magazine show, Connecticut Style, on the road to enrich the variety of topics we present.”
With its built-in redundancy and Broadcast Pix’s outstanding tech support, Holowaty said the Slate 1000 has proven to be extremely reliable for mission critical live broadcasts. “Based on our Slate 1000’s performance, our corporate office recently ordered a unit for WISH-TV, our Indianapolis station,” he said, “and we plan to share our trailer with our sister stations WWLP in Springfield, Mass., and WPRI in Providence, R.I.”
New KHQ Secondary Channel Produces Local Programming with Broadcast Pix
Launched a new local sports and weather secondary channel, KHQ, the NBC affiliate serving the Spokane, Wash., market, needed a cost effective way to produce local programming. The solution was a new 20-foot production trailer built around a Broadcast Pix™ Slate™ 1000 integrated production system.
The secondary channel, SWX, has been on the air since January, but had its official launch on Aug. 30. Doug Miles, director of broadcast operations, called SWX a “hyper-local” channel, with coverage of regional hockey and arena football, as well as high school and college sports.
KHQ has a 53-foot truck to produce programming for Fox SportsNet and other clients, but it is not an economical choice for local programming. “We needed a trailer that we could use to substantially reduce costs for less complicated shoots,” Miles explained. “Not every production needs a 53-foot production truck and a staff of 20.”
Instead, the new production trailer was designed by Advanced Broadcast Solutions in SeaTac, Wash., to run efficiently with a smaller crew. The main area houses the Broadcast Pix Slate, where the director/technical director switches the show and uses the Slate’s built-in multi-view to monitor the production on two LCD screens. Next to the director, the producer also serves as CG operator, while a third operator handles camera shading and instant replay duties. The front of the trailer has a separate room dedicated to audio with a Yamaha digital mixing console. Although the Slate can handle HD, SWX programs are produced in SD because the channel is broadcast in SD.
Revenue is the name of the game for the new production trailer, which Miles said is already booked for shoots every week through Christmas. The unit is being used primarily for the station’s own sports productions, which will be sponsored through advertising, but KHQ is hoping to generate rental revenue as well. “It has to turn a profit,” he explained. “That’s the reason we bought it.”
KHQ already uses a Broadcast Pix system in the station’s secondary control room for weather updates, so Miles was confident in the new system’s reliability. He also said the new Slate, which was upgraded to support eight inputs and dual clip stores, was key to the SWX business model, because it offered a number of built-in features without compromising quality or requiring multiple operators.
“It’s super cost effective and one person can run it,” Miles added. “The switcher is really easy to use, very intuitive. We’re able to use split screen, replays, graphic transitions – everything you see in a normal production.”