February 2019

dB has completed new TV Studios for Berkeley Studios International comprising a 12G-SDI capable broadcast facility at Park Royal in London.

When Berkeley Studios International (BSI) wanted to build an interactive news and current affairs facility in London, they turned to dB Broadcast to design and implement the technical facilities, and to Maris Interiors, a design and fit out company, to undertake the building work. One of the new studios will be used for live production by pan-Arab news channel Alghad TV, and the other is available for hire to other broadcasters.

The project started in spring 2018, and in less than a year, four industrial units were successfully converted into two brand new studio facilities. To achieve this, dB Broadcast worked in close partnership with both the BSI project team and the builder on a daily basis.

As well as two large multi-camera studios (144m2 and 125m2), the facility includes two small news inject studios, three post production edit suites, MCR and transmission control rooms and a further three edit suites to be fitted out when required.

The newsroom, along with the production and sound galleries, were designed to be an attractive and functional backdrop for the studio to be seen by viewers of the news channel. The studio includes an impressive 8m video wall.

The apparatus room comprises 18 equipment racks containing all the central broadcast and core IT hardware. New equipment and infrastructure were supplied and installed by dB Broadcast, but graphics and edit were supplied by the customer from their existing facilities. Managing the transfer of that equipment, PAT and asset tagging, and installation into the new location were all managed by the dB project team.

dB agreed with the client that the core of the new system would use proven broadcast technologies, i.e. the core video and audio systems content would be produced using HD-SDI, AES and MADI. This decision was motivated by the wish to utilise existing HD equipment, and also avoided the need for extensive retraining in new techniques. The news environment needs speed and operational reliability in difficult conditions, and often requires freelance operators with skills in traditional workflow.

However, the opportunity to achieve 4K video was also important, so the latest iteration of SDI was deployed, capable of handling 12Gbps data on a single coaxial cable. This was possible as the system is self-contained and designed with the shortest distances between the core equipment, studios and control rooms. Ross was chosen as the primary equipment supplier of the broadcast and automation systems, using openGear hardware with their Ultrix router and Carbonite vision mixer products, all capable of supporting 12G-SDI.
A satellite up/down link station was installed with a roof mounted three metre dish and ten receive channels.

“Our guiding philosophy is to build trust through establishing strong relationships between our project team, the client teams and other contractors such as builders, striving to achieve seamless integration”, said Tom Swan, Sales and Marketing Director at dB Broadcast. “For this project, dB’s team included two Project Managers: Paul Telco, Technical Lead and Phil Snuggs, Third party Contract Management and Implementation.”

A significant challenge on the project was the major building work that needed to be carried out at the site concurrent with the installation of the highly complex broadcast equipment. Essential to the success of the project was the forging of excellent relations between the two dB Broadcast project managers, their team, the customer and the building contractor.
As the project progressed, unforeseen construction delays meant that the dB Broadcast team had to be flexible. For example, it was found necessary to construct a new mezzanine floor for the second news room, and this could have significantly delayed the project. To avoid delay, the construction of the apparatus area and control rooms was completed earlier than planned, enabling dB Broadcast to start the technical fit out in these “clean” areas, while the construction company continued their work in the other three units. During this period, dB Broadcast worked closely with BSI and the builder to define the AC, electrical and cable routes.

dB Broadcast sub-contracted the satellite works to Sat-Tech Communication; this required work on an existing satellite gantry on the roof. Liaison with the builder and structural engineers to address issues with the existing steel framework of the units would prove challenging.

The collaboration continued for the next two months to make sure that dust was kept to a minimum, and health and safety measures were maintained for all staff during the ambitious timescale.
The racks room was ready by December 2018, and the studio control rooms were then fitted out and cross-site cabling completed to the mezzanine and other areas of the complex. Practical completion was finally achieved by the builder in mid December 2018. dB Broadcast then had a challenge to meet the delivery date of the end of January.

By mid-January 2019, dB Broadcast had delivered all technical areas, and the main areas had been tested ready for User Acceptance Testing by the client.

“This was a complex project that pushed SDI to its limit”, said Yasser Youssef, Project Manager and CTO at BSI. “dB Broadcast worked with us to create a high performance system capable of taking us into 4K broadcasting, yet building on our existing expertise and resource profile.”

“Our off-site pre-build was a key issue in achieving a quality result and coping with the constraints of the building work”, said Paul Telco, Technical Project Manager for dB Broadcast.