City council meetings, miliatry training, & MOre
Broadcast Pix integrated production systems are popular in many government applications. They are used by
the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Voice of America, state houses,
parliaments and a great many municipalities worldwide.
Using Broadcast Pix systems, government entities can televise state
house and town hall meetings, and school board discussions with
broadcast-quality production values. The integrated camera control
option is very popular as it enables a solo operator to control robotic
cameras. There is no more cost-effective way to create dynamic live video.
A Case Study
Broadcast Pix User Reports
South Carolina Installs Two Broadcast Pix Mica Systems for HD Video Coverage of State House
While South Carolina Educational Television (SCETV) produces a variety of original television programming and provides video production services for other state agencies, one of its primary responsibilities is coverage of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate proceedings. When the operation was upgraded to HD production in late 2013, SCETV installed two Broadcast Pix™ Mica™ integrated production switchers to handle switching, graphics, and more.
SCETV is a statewide network of PBS member stations based in Columbia. Established in the 1950s for distance learning, it has 11 call letter stations across the state, as well as eight radio stations. State House coverage is broadcast on ETV World, one of the network’s multicast channels, and streamed live to www.scstatehouse.gov.
According to Ben Wilson, SCETV project manager of engineering, the move to HD for coverage of the House and Senate was prompted by the clerks of the House and Senate, who wanted to improve the quality of the video. “It was time to replace the cameras,” Wilson added. “Almost none of the equipment had ongoing support from the manufacturers because it was so old.”
The control room is housed in a small room next to the visitor’s entrance to the South Carolina State House, with the two chambers located on opposite ends of the building. In 2009, SCETV purchased Broadcast Pix Slate™ integrated production systems to replace analog Grass Valley production switchers and Chyron Maxine CGs, which had been in use since the control room was built in 1998. When the decision was made to update operations to native HD, Wilson chose to upgrade from Slate to Mica systems. (The Slate systems are now used to downconvert the HD feeds to SD for distribution on ETV World, which is an SD channel.)
Video production for each chamber is handled by one operator, who switches and positions the cameras, monitors audio, and inserts name keys and full-screen graphics using Mica’s built-in Inscriber CG. An ETV bug is inserted in the upper right-hand corner of each feed using the built-in still store. Both the House and Senate are in session simultaneously much of the time, so the TDs sit side-by-side in the control room wearing headphones. SCETV relies on two primary TDs, but has several operators who are called in when sessions run long.
In an effort to save counter space for other equipment, Wilson opted to install touchscreens instead of traditional control panels. Each operator has two 23-inch touchscreens, one populated with a PixPad and SoftPanel to easily call up graphics, while the second acts as a monitor wall, displaying preview, program, and sources.
When the legislative sessions ended last July, Wilson and his team began the HD upgrade, which included installation of both Broadcast Pix systems, an upgraded Utah Scientific hybrid router, new Panasonic PTZ cameras in both chambers, and a complete rebuild of the distribution infrastructure. HD LCD monitors in the Main Lobby and Joint Legislative Conference Room (Library) were also installed and are fed through the Mica systems. “The legislative session started the second week of January, so we had to have them operational by then,” Wilson recalled.
Each chamber originally had three cameras, but a fourth was added during the upgrade. The Senate now has one camera in the rear of the chamber, two on the sides, and a fourth behind the rostrum for gallery coverage. The House has two rear cameras, one of which provides coverage of the voting boards on the wall, and two side cameras at the front of the chamber to shoot the gallery.
With several weeks of productions complete, the TDs like the new Broadcast Pix systems, and reactions to the upgraded productions have been positive. “I think it’s great, and we’ve been getting a lot of compliments,” Wilson said.
Columbus Consolidated Government TV Builds New Control Room around Broadcast Pix
When Georgia’s Columbus Consolidated Government opened its new City Service Center in June, it helped address parking issues for citizens and more than doubled the capacity of the council chambers. For Columbus Consolidated Government TV, its local government channel, relocation to the new building meant a chance to upgrade equipment that had not changed in more than a decade. The new control room is anchored by a Broadcast Pix Granite 2000 integrated production system.
Located on the second floor, the control room is positioned between the council chambers and CCG-TV studio, with large observation windows in both connecting walls. With three wired drops in different areas of the City Service Center, as well as one at a new aquatic center across the street, the station can connect a camera, have it feed into the Granite, and go live with a press conference very quickly.
CCG-TV had been using an aging NewTek system, but Michael King, CCG-TV station manager, was ready for a change. “When I had the opportunity to upgrade, I immediately knew I was going to get a Broadcast Pix switcher,” he said. “We were behind the times, so we decided to update what we had. Broadcast Pix is the main catalyst behind everything that’s going on.”
The new studio includes two talk show sets, which are used for a variety of programs. CCG-TV produces about 14 shows a month, in addition to coverage of four weekly council meetings, committee meetings, press conferences, educational videos, and community event coverage. King has one part-time and one full-time employee, but sometimes borrows staff members from other departments to help produce programming. The station has multiple field cameras, two dedicated studio cameras, and two edit suites, plus an additional edit station in the control room.
To avoid bandwidth issues, CCG-TV has its own wireless network, and can use iPixPanel, Broadcast Pix’s iPad-based virtual control panel, to switch a show from anywhere in the building. “That is another good feature that we have with the Broadcast Pix,” King added.
During meetings, four new Panasonic HD PTZ cameras provide coverage of 10 council members, as well as other city officials and the public. King said the Granite is used to control all the cameras during a meeting, and camera presets are used frequently to simplify production.
CCG-TV uses many of Granite’s built-in workflow tools, including Inscriber CG and Fluent-View, its customizable multi-view. With Fluent Watch-Folders, each show has its own folder for clips, graphics, and other interstitials. “You don’t have to shuffle through a lot of stuff you don’t need,” King explained. “We do nine different programs. It keeps everything simple.”
Belmont Media Center Improves Local Sports Coverage with Broadcast Pix Mica
Belmont Media Center (BMC), a PEG station with three channels serving the town of Belmont, Mass., has improved its local sports coverage with a new remote HD studio anchored by a Broadcast Pix Mica 500 integrated production system.
When BMC moved into upgraded facilities in 2009, its new control room was built around a Broadcast Pix Slate™ 1000 system. Last year, when it was time to build a remote HD studio , the nonprofit organization went back to Broadcast Pix. With volunteer-based production crews, it was important to create a remote system that would be easy, not intimidating, to operate.
“We were looking for the latest technology and a company that had good support,” said Jeff Hansell, executive director, BMC. “After extensive research, we felt that Broadcast Pix was the best match for us. It provides the ability for inexperienced people to learn the system really quickly, and it delivers a very high quality presentation.”
BMC is a PEG station that provides public, education, and government programming on three channels for Comcast and Verizon subscribers. Programming is also available online at www.belmontmedia.org. The station produces a great deal of government access programming, with regular coverage of four different commissions, as well as committee meetings and citizen forums. While HD footage is downconverted to SD for Comcast and Verizon subscribers, programs are streamed live and on demand to the Internet.
Purchased primarily for local sports coverage, the Mica is also used for school event coverage and some government meetings. “The rationale was that we wanted broadcast-quality sports on the scene in real time,” Hansell explained. “We’re always trying to improve the look of our programming.”
BMC worked with The Camera Company in Massachusetts to design and build the remote system. It was used for the first time to produce a Thanksgiving football game, and was used throughout the winter for sports and special events. Built around the Mica, the remote system is housed in two cases and features a Shure mixer, Clear-Com intercom system, and three Sony cameras. Programs are recorded to DVD or ingested into a video server.
On location, BMC uses the Mica’s built-in Fluent workflow tools, including the Fluent-View customizable multi-view. Fluent Clip Store provides access to B-roll footage, PSAs, sponsorships, and interstitials, while Fluent Macros are used to simplify multi-shot screen compositions, particularly for sports coverage. Hansell said the built-in Harris Inscriber GS character generator is very important, because it allows the crew to add graphics live and reduce post-production.
After several months of remote productions, the Mica has been a solid performer for BMC. Hansell said, “We are really happy with the performance of the Broadcast Pix.”
Housed in a single 4 RU case, Mica includes a multi-definition switcher that can mix eight HD/SD-SDI inputs with seven channels of internal clips, animations, and graphics. There is support for up to six keyers and DVEs, six HD/SD-SDI outputs, and two DVI outputs. It includes the full complement of Fluent workflow tools, and can be controlled through a traditional control panel, keyboard and mouse, or touch-screen.
Village of Niles To Begin Live Coverage of
Council Meetings with Broadcast Pix System
When the Village of Niles, Ill., built its Village Hall in the mid 1990’s, officials had no interest in recording or broadcasting its meetings. In the last few years, however, changes to the local political landscape prompted a new attitude – and the Management Information Systems (MIS) Department was tasked with retrofitting the council chambers and building a video production system from scratch. Now, the village is preparing to broadcast its first meeting with a system built around a Broadcast Pix Mica 2000 Video Production Center.
The project had a number of challenges, including a limited budget and no dedicated staff in place to operate the system. The final solution needed to be powerful enough to create compelling coverage, yet simple enough to be operated by one person with minimal training.
“This had to be easy to operate and it had to be as consolidated as possible. The Mica is what made it all possible,” explained Bill Shaw, MIS director for the Village of Niles, which is north of Chicago and has a population near 30,000.
“It’s only because of the integration in the Mica,” added Steve Cusick, systems engineer. “It allows us to make a consistent on-air product, regardless of who is behind the switcher and how much experience they have.”
Shaw and Cusick engineered and installed the system. In an effort to manage costs, every line item – from cables to cameras – was sent out to bid to more than three dozen vendors. In the end, 14 vendors provided various equipment for the project. While Shaw admitted it was a “very complicated” process, it was also the only way the village could afford a system that would meet their objectives.
While the village has been training on the system since late September, it will be used to broadcast its first meeting in December. Meetings will be available in HD for live streaming and video-on-demand on the village’s Web site, and will be broadcast live and rebroadcast in SD on the village’s PEG cable channel.
The large closet containing the audio rack for the Council Chambers in Village Hall was converted to serve as the control room. The council chambers are equipped with four Panasonic HD robotic cameras that are controlled through the Mica; a projector in chambers is another source that can be accessed through the switcher. Mica’s built-in Fluent-View provides customized multi-view monitoring over two LCD touch-screens in the control room, while the integrated Inscriber CG is used for titles and credits.
With Fluent™ Macros, production complexities have been programmed into user-friendly macros to automate meeting coverage as much as possible. As a result, Shaw said, village staff with minimal training can produce a quality broadcast. Cusick and Shaw have created macros to move and switch cameras, add graphics, trigger breaks, and even turn off the cameras after a meeting.
“We realized the only product out there that met our goals was Broadcast Pix. We designed the entire solution around the Mica,” said Cusick. “It’s easy to use, with built-in automation with macros and integrated camera control. It was really the right solution for us.”
Tualatin Valley Community TV Adds Broadcast Pix
Mica Video Control Centers to New Control Rooms
Based in Beaverton, Ore., Tualatin Valley Community TV (TVCTV) produces PEG (public, educational, and government) programming for cable subscribers in 14 cities and Washington County. Earlier this year, TVCTV moved from a three-studio setup it shared with a magnet school to its own two-studio facility. Each new studio has its own control room , which is anchored by a Broadcast Pix Mica Video Control Center.
A division of the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission, TVCTV produces more than 400 local programs each year for its five cable channels. Its main studio is dedicated to community programming, while a second studio is used for government programs, in-house productions, and contract work.
By design, both control rooms are very similar. “We do a bunch of outreach programs for each community,” explained Thaddeus Girard, TVCTV production services manager. “We have 14 freelancers and five in-house producers. Both studios running the same platform is huge. Two Micas in house will help volunteers by easily cross-training and reducing crew costs.”
The move to the new facility also included a move to a file-based workflow, which allows TVCTV to take advantage of Mica’s built-in Fluent™ Clip Store. “One of the most exciting things for us is having so much stuff stored in one unit,” Girard said. “What we’d used before was a ton of monitors and decks – and it took a lot of engineering and tweaking. Now we can use internal clip stores instead of three DVCPRO decks. I’m excited to have it so tightly integrated with Fluent-View and get rid of so many crummy black-and-white monitors.”
TVCTV is also exploiting the capabilities of its new production switchers to improve its on-air look. “We want to try to spice it up as much as we can. There’s so much power, we can do so many things,” Girard said. “It’s fun to program your own vision and have it show up almost immediately. Mica has just made our workflow much more sensible, creative, and easier.”
TVCTV implemented the Mica workflow in March. They were purchased through Professional Video and Tape in Tigard, Ore., and installed by Delta AV in Portland, Ore. One of TVCTV’s new studios features robotic HD cameras, but programming is down-converted and broadcast in SD. Mica’s multi-definition switcher can mix eight HD/SD-SDI inputs with seven channels of internal clips, animations, and graphics.
Beyond its new studios, TVCTV produces live coverage of city council meetings for seven cities, and Girard plans to begin migrating existing local city council control rooms to Broadcast Pix systems later this year. “Mica fits that perfect niche, allowing us to expand a little bit but keeps us within budget,” Girard added. “All around it’s been a fantastic piece of equipment for our new facility.”
CTV Santa Cruz Installs Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 on
New HD Truck for HD Production, File-Based Workflow
In keeping with its mission to foster a strong sense of community
through its public interest programming, Community Television (CTV) of
Santa Cruz County – the producer of public, education, and government
(PEG) access channels serving 75,000 households in Santa Cruz County,
Calif. — has launched a new HD video production truck to provide
broadcast-quality coverage of high school sports, youth athletics, and
local cultural events. At the heart of the new 1080i truck is a
Broadcast Pix™ Granite™
1000 live video production system.
Since it hit the road in December, the converted 33-foot Ford motor
coach has been used extensively to cover Santa Cruz Coast Athletic
League (SCCAL) high school basketball and soccer games and
championships, Monterey Bay League boy’s soccer, and other sporting
events. CTV uses its truck to produce an average of three hours of
programming each week, which is carried by three local cable systems and
is available on demand at CTV’s Web site.
“Granite 1000 brings all the features and functionality we need to
produce visually exciting local programs cost effectively,” said Craig
Jutson, director of technology for CTV. “While many factors led to our
choice of Granite, price was a critical issue because we needed to
accomplish our production goals while staying within our truck budget.”
Jutson credits Granite 1000 in large part
for holding the line on truck costs (which totaled nearly $270,000)
without sacrificing performance and operational ergonomics. “While we
considered many top conventional and PC-based production switchers,”
added, “Granite 1000 was the only one that incorporated all the
functionality we needed in a way that enables small crews to produce a
multi-camera show in a very small footprint.”
The truck also features four new Hitachi Z-HD5000 EFP HD cameras, a
Datavideo HDR-50 hard drive video recorder, NewTek 3Play multi-channel
slow motion replay system, Mackie Onyx 32.4 analog audio mixer, and Zoom
R16 digital multi-track audio recorder. Jutson designed the truck’s
file-based workflow, and ordered the Broadcast Pix system and other
equipment from VMI, Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif.
During a production, the CTV crew takes full advantage of Granite’s
built-in Fluent™ workflow tools, including Fluent Clip Store for instant
access to opens, bumpers, and interstitials. The graphics operator uses
the built-in Inscriber CG, and Fluent View
provides heads-up displays
to three different LCD monitors in the truck for the technical director,
graphics operator, and audio operator.
“The Granite user interface has unique, features that make it easier for
one or two people to manage all the elements of a sophisticated live
show,” said Jutson. “The PixButtons dynamically display
detailed labels of cameras, video clips, graphics, keys, and other
assets at your disposal, which prevents confusion and mistakes during
the show. We’re very pleased with Broadcast Pix Granite 1000. It’s a