Being confronted with a complex nest of cabling, unmarked and undocumented, is the stuff of nightmares for broadcast engineers. Structured cabling design and installation, using standard cabling that can be configured to meet changing requirements, has been adopted in broadcast as it has in ICT to avoid these problems. dB Broadcast is called upon to advise clients on the best approach to satisfy current and future needs.
Structured cabling has important benefits when installed in a new broadcast facility. It can be installed as part of the building contract rather than by broadcast specialists, and the same type of cable flood-wired throughout a building can carry different signal types for IT, phone, broadcast etc. This all keeps costs down.
Deploying a limited number of different standard cables routed via patching frames makes installations more flexible, and can quickly accommodate additions and developments as infrastructure requirements evolve. Thus a well-designed structured cabling system is an important tool to support enterprise agility and growth.
Designing a structured cabling system increases the Broadcast SI’s engineering time, but it saves on SI wiring time. A well managed, unified cabling system can also reduce maintenance costs.
So what are downsides of this apparent panacea? The simple principle of structured cabling is in stark contrast with the complexity of the many options and technical standards that govern its use!
Although the broadcast industry does not have published standards for cable management, it is often implemented better than in the IT world, as there are accepted practices by system integration companies such as dB Broadcast that specify documentation, cable marking at both ends, cable dressing and harnessing.
Structured wiring systems must be carefully designed as they will typically persist beyond 10 years – a long time in this era of seismic technology change. Getting the design right requires careful long-range technology trend analysis, and translation into practical requirements for the wiring system. When specifying structured wiring requirements during a recent facility build, dB Broadcast dedicated significant effort to trend analysis. This included working with both traditional broadcast vendors as well as vendors driving cutting edge datacentre design. The long-range analysis was complemented by a detailed audit of the connectivity requirements of the various subsystems within the facility.
A structured wiring system makes use of various kinds of cable. Most commonly CAT5e and CAT6 twisted pairs for shorter runs and lower bandwidth links, and fibre – both single mode and multi-mode – for longer runs and high bandwidth links. Single mode fibre can handle greater distances and can handle multiplexed signals, however it has traditionally been avoided within datacentres due to the cost of the associated optics. The development of standards such as PSM4 mean that lower cost, high bandwidth single mode optics are emerging, which is starting to make single mode infrastructure more attractive.
dB Broadcast is experiencing demand from clients for a structured cabling solution that satisfies the need for increased bandwidth. 25Gb/s works well for uncompressed live production technology and live/file based UHD workflows. Structured cabling must be carefully specified and designed to deal with this.
Where a client has commissioned flood wiring for a building, to ensure proper usage, dB is often involved in specifying and managing every patch. An essential step is the deployment of a patch management system to avoid that dreaded undocumented nest of cables that no one dares change!
Despite the advantages of the structured cabling approach, it cannot meet all broadcast cabling requirements. An SI will still need to provide local cabling.
A final point: while structured wiring can provide great flexibility to patch anything anywhere, that doesn’t mean that you should. The design must be aligned with both the network and broadcast design. This is an ongoing process which often involves translating logical design into physical patching, following a coherent scheme that utilises the structured wiring infrastructure efficiently.
Customers won’t thank anyone when they discover that many switch ports they need to access are harnessed at one end of a big row of swing frames, and the rack that their equipment is installed in is harnessed at the opposite end of the row, resulting in congested, unusable trunk channels and another swing frame meme on the Internet.
dB Broadcast chooses ICE for new SSVC broadcast facility line
dB has constructed a new state-of-the-art production and transmission facility for the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) at Chalfont in the UK. SSVC provides welfare entertainment and information to British service personnel and their families worldwide under the BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) banner.
The new facility, encompassing both equipment rooms and operational areas was commissioned with a controlled migration program to ensure that broadcasting operations were continued uninterrupted.
The SSVC playout operation is based on four ICE and two ICE LE systems, providing ingest and redundant playout for BFBS’s 15 TV channels that are broadcast live to armed forces personnel in over 23 countries and to British Navy ships at sea. Morpheus automation enables full integration with SSVC’s Provys traffic system and IPV MAM.
dB Broadcast, in partnership with a local Indian agent, was responsible for the supply, installation and commissioning of a robotically controlled camera system for TV coverage and video recording at the Parliament building in Delhi. This included an eight camera system in the 1100 seat main auditorium, a four camera facility in a 190 seat committee room and a four camera mobile system. The Hitachi cameras were controlled using Radamec robotic equipment.
dB Broadcast won the contract to carry out system integration work across the Red Bee portfolio of clients. The work involved supporting and delivering projects around both the playout and creative facilities, predominantly based in London.
The dB team successfully delivered a host of new services and upgrades to Red Bee clients including:
– 4Seven for Channel Four. A new channel and continuity booth was built and integrated into the existing Channel Four infrastructure.
– BBC World News: complete new Playout System and Control Suite. This involved design, build and test of the systems, and supporting the migration of the one of the most viewed channels in the world. This was all achieved without a single break in transmission.
– BBC Worldwide. Technical refresh of Playout Technology and launch of new services.
– Signing Studios. Two new HD Signing Studios were designed and built to meet increasing demands.
– Creative Refresh. Consolidation and technical refresh of core elements of the existing infrastructure including the installation of a new AVID ISIS system.
– BBC2 HD: created the new playout systems for BBC2 HD. This was extremely challenging, working around the existing core BBC infrastructure. The team designed and built the new core system as well as upgrading all the monitoring in the control suite to enable the transmission of HD content. As usual, the dB team was on hand during the migration of services.
Ericsson signed an exclusive multi-year broadcast and media services deal with leading UK broadcaster, Channel 5, which is owned by Viacom and used dB Broadcast to supply these services.
The project included playout, media management and access services such as captioning, audio description and sign language interpretation. These services were provided for Channel 5’s entire portfolio of terrestrial and digital channels (Channel 5, 5*, Spike and 5USA), as well as for its catch up offerings, including Channel 5+1 and Channel 5+24. The project also included the delivery of media management services for the broadcaster’s Demand 5 video-on-demand platform. All services operational in May 2016.
dB Broadcast was tasked with creating a major upgrade from SD to the latest HD TV studio production technology for this university – and in time for the upcoming new academic year. The facility upgrade will allow students to work with and use the latest TV studio equipment, ensuring that City University students can compete effectively with the best in broadcast journalism, enhancing their employability prospects on graduation.
The system was based around the NewTek TriCaster 8000 vision mixer, Chyron IP graphics and 3play 425 server; the students will be using JVC GY-HM650 ENG cameras.
“This HD TV Studio upgrade will give our Journalism students a ‘virtual TV studio experience’ and so a competitive edge in their broadcasting careers”, said Tony Phillips, TV Studio Manager at City University London. “They will be operating the latest TV studio production technology and ENG live location cameras that are now in current use at broadcasters such as BBC News, ITV News, Channel 4, Sky News, London Live etc. where our students will go to work.”
The HD TV Studio also has extra facilities including a broadcast system solution capable of taking in sources such as: remote ENG live location feeds via 3G / 4G and Wi-Fi, live Skype interview feeds, Internet feeds, and the ability to quickly exchange video content with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The system can also make use of Apple AirPlay devices via Wi-Fi, IPTV, SMART TV etc.
After completion of the studio project, dB Broadcast continues to work with City University, providing warranty support and other support services to ensure the facility can meet its demanding timetable and heavy use.
dB Broadcast supplied a fleet of nine road trailers for Rohde & Schwarz, used by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom to check and monitor RF transmissions throughout the UK.
Each trailer features a large composite UHF/VHF Direction Finding (DF) antenna mounted on a 10m telescopic mast that pivots to the horizontal position for travelling – in the manner of a yacht mast. The contract included the design, manufacture and test of all the associated power supply systems in custom-built weatherproof enclosures. The trailer and mast is designed for use in wind speeds of up to 100kph, despite carrying a mast head load in excess of 50kg. Many components including the batteries are of military grade specification to enable the systems to function reliably whatever the British weather throws at them.
Once the technical solution was agreed, the manufacture, test and delivery took place within six weeks, with the second batch of six trailers going through dB’s factory in just three weeks.
dB Broadcast completed a major contract from Siemens IT Solutions and Services to supply the BBC with HD coding and multiplexing services. This enables viewers to watch programmes in high definition on digital terrestrial TV (DTT).
The high definition service on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) became the first DVB-T2 HD service in the world with a technical launch at the end of 2009.
In a phased rollout, the BBC’s overall project will eventually lead to at least four high definition channels being available across the majority of UK households, including those from other public service broadcasters, such as ITV, S4C and Channel 4.
Using advanced statistical multiplexing, transmission, and compression technologies and dB’s Hawkeye products, Siemens IT Solutions and Services has engineered the system to avoid any single point of failure within the transmission chain. The B080 series of Hawkeye modules supports MPEG2, MPEG4, DVB and ATSC standards. The DTT services use more than 50 modules and provide near-seamless switching.
dB delivers new generation project
dB Broadcast was selected as one of the strategic system integrators for Sky’s new production and broadcast facility on its Osterley Campus in West London.
This facility is a sustainable landmark broadcast facility that provides studios, technical, and operational space for people in Broadcast Operations, Sky Sports, and Broadcast Technology.
dB Broadcast was appointed to install, test and commission the core technical facilities within the Broadcast Centre component. This included the playout, compression and lines processing systems, enabling Sky to distribute their programmes to many platforms – including the traditional satellite feeds, new media streaming, mobile phone services and many more. dB Broadcast was also responsible for the installation of the Broadcast control system, IPTV system and the talkback facilities.
The Central Technical Area consists of a number of apparatus rooms with a capacity to hold 400 bays of technical equipment, and the playout area boasts over 35 operational desks.
dB Broadcast upgraded the R&S Transmitter Monitoring & Protection systems at 26 transmitter sites across the UK to support the addition of the two new HD Muxes 7&8.
In addition to the M&P rack upgrades dB Broadcast supplied custom transmitter interlock bypass panels and custom spinner switch frame interface boxes and also added new cross site cabling, transmitter power sensors and environmental monitoring at these sites.
dB Broadcast was selected to provide a News hub at BBC Elstree for their coverage of local and general elections which were previously broadcast from the Television Centre (before its closure).
The Hub manages all the outside broadcasts and filter a subset through to the TV Gallery and is similar to a small Control Room operation, except it is staffed with up to 26 editorial staff who make decisions about the outside broadcasts and which ones to route to the Studio.
The system comprises 26 editorial positions, 2 engineering desks, monitor wall comprising two rows of seven 50” monitors and 14 bays of equipment.
dB Broadcast supported Sky engineers in designing a small 2 camera bulletin studio. This was installed on the third floor of the Sky Studio building in an area previously allocated as office space and used for Sky Sports bulletins within Sky News programmes.
dB were responsible for the cabling and installation of equipment as well as testing and commissioning. Timescales were critical as the studio had to be operational in time for the start of the new football season. The system was based upon GVG mixer, cameras and automation and a Calrec audio desk.
After a competitive tendering process, dB Broadcast was awarded the contract to undertake the installation of the broadcast cabling within the recently refurbished building. This involved more than 100KM of cable and the work was carried out in several phases to work around the on-going building programme and the relocation of staff.
dB Broadcast built two 3-camera OB vehicles based upon the Mercedes Vario.
dB was responsible for purchasing the vehicles, carrying out the coach work and completing the technical fit out. The vehicles included the Sony DXC-D55 Camera, Canon lenses, Sony MFS-2000 mixer, Calrec M3 audio console, Trilogy talkback and Pro-bel distribution equipment.
dB Broadcast won the contract from Siemens IT Solutions and Services to supply the BBC with ongoing coding and multiplexing services. dB built multiple facilities, known as the centralised coding and multiplexing nodes (CCM nodes), to compress and stream BBC digital television signals. Over 700 of dB’s Hawkeye switching and monitoring modules were used in the pro
The 300 bay system was prefabricated at dB while building work was carried out on-site. Additionally, all the equipment was fitted and tested at dB, in a facility that is still unusual in the industry.
dB Broadcast won a very large contract to build a totally new TV station in a purpose-built complex located in the heart of Amman, Kingdom of Jordan. ATV was the first independent TV channel in Jordan, operating on-air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, broadcasting a mixture of entertainment, and regional and international news.
dB was responsible for the full technical infrastructure of the new station. David Bird, Managing Director, managed the project on behalf of the company and also provided support to the architects and builders. The facility is located in one custom building and includes three studios, edit suites, newsroom and playout areas, all taking advantage of the latest technology.
At the heart of the transmission system are Harris Nexio servers, Pebble Beach automation system, Sony PetaSite robotic tape library and Quartz master control. The newsroom was equipped with more than 60 ENPS workstations.
High end craft editing is performed on VelocityQ non-linear editors, and the studios were equipped with Sony BVP-E30 cameras, Ross Synergy 3 mixers and Calrec Zeta digital audio consoles.
dB Broadcast won a contract from Arqiva to supply and install the Programme Input Equipment (PIE) at 90 transmitter sites as part of UK digital switchover (DSO). Arqiva upgraded the entire terrestrial television infrastructure.
The first full switchover was at the Selkirk transmitter group in November 2008 and this was followed by the West Country.
dB supplied more than 550 bays across the 90 key sites. Prefabrication and testing was carried out at dB’s factory, and installation performed by dB’s in-house technicians. The project included approximately 500 Hawkeye frames with 3,000 modules, which included B080 series and B049 ASI monitor/switch modules and B102 DVB-T COFDM receivers.
dB Broadcast was also responsible for the onsite cabling from the sites’ incoming programme feeds to the inputs of the transmitters, and the installation of the IT network, remote alarm and RF monitoring infrastructure. This included RF, ASI and Ethernet cabling, some of which was fibre.
dB Broadcast provided the BBC’s temporary facilities in Lisbon for their coverage of the Euro 2004 football championships. dB designed, prefabricated and installed the systems in the studio, control rooms, central apparatus room and edit areas – together with the monitor stacks comprising over 100 monitors, control desks – the largest of which was 9 metres – and technical infrastructure. dB was also responsible for the dismantling at the end of the competition.
Relocation of BBC Television Facilities to Broadcasting House
dB completed a long-term contract and the largest project ever undertaken by the BBC: the relocation of BBC London TV Centre facilities – a project described by the BBC as: ‘on-schedule, on-budget and on-air’.
The enhanced Broadcasting House and the movement of over 5,500 staff and broadcast services, to bring the BBC’s national and international news operations together, entailed the single biggest migration of BBC facilities ever undertaken. The development, for the first time, brought the BBC World Service, BBC News, BBC Weather and several other BBC business units together under one roof in Portland Place in London’s West End.
dB’s role was the design, build and commissioning of all HD television studios, galleries, edit suites and associated technical areas at Broadcasting House for all the Corporation’s television news services.
The sheer scale of the project meant the team faced challenges in technology, project management and ensuring the needs of all different BBC stakeholders were met.
The BBC site now hosts one of the world’s largest news rooms – designed, built and commissioned by dB Broadcast.
The contract covers the design, procurement, installation and commissioning of all equipment for video production located within the studios, galleries, edit suites, graphic areas, newsroom and local apparatus rooms.
It also involves all the inter-connections to the central routing and distribution systems which will mean close collaboration with the BBC and other companies.
The specification was for a 1.5G (1080i) HD-SDI video system with a clear upgrade path to 3G HD-SDI. Where technically feasible and cost effective, dB Broadcast also installed elements capable of supporting 3G HD-SDI from the outset.
There are more than 10 television studios of different types. The largest 334m2 double-height studio is fitted with eight cameras and is intended to be a flexible studio for a varied range of programmes, equipped with motorised hoists for changing sets. Fixed studios are single height with one incorporated into the open plan newsroom; one of the largest live newsrooms in the world.
The World Service studios will be used for recording inserts into World Service video outlets. The clip studios are designed to be primarily self-operated but will also form a vital part of the daily news output.
The main galleries will use play-out and automation procured by the BBC and supplied to the systems integrator for installation. As part of the project, dB also installed approximately 30 edit suites.
As part of the BBC W1 Phase 2 Video Production installation, dB was asked to install 27 craft edit suites. These were over several floors at New Broadcasting House and are based around a Quantel Ingest, Production and Playout system.