Dee Ana S. Bell, Production Engineer/Chief Operator, Northwest Public Television/ Northwest Public Radio /
09.06.2013 02:00 PM
Ensemble Designs Powers WSU Signal Delivery
Not just about video
PULLMAN, WASH.—The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication is one of the leading broadcast colleges in the United States and also home to Northwest Public Radio and Northwest Public Television. We also operate “Cable 8,” a student-run television cable channel). We serve many roles for Washington State University including operating the satellite uplink facility. I like to say I’m a “Jill-of-all-trades,” for in addition to being the chief operator for the 18 radio stations in the group and also two PBS television member stations, I serve as the production engineer and satellite uplink engineer. 

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BETTER

Dee Ana S. Bell
While attending the NAB Show a few years ago, I researched new fiber-optic gear to upgrade our existing fiber delivery system, which was designed strictly for analog audio feeds and composite video inputs. After looking at a lot of fiber equipment, I became very impressed with what the Ensemble Designs team had brought to the Show. When they demonstrated their BrightEye series for me, I knew immediately that the BrightEye gear’s versatility was exactly what I had been looking for.

One of the immediate pluses was its ability to handle both single and multimode fiber. We have a mixture of legacy and new fiber equipment and installations, and going with the BrightEye gear would mean no longer having to keep spare fiber drivers for the two types of cable.

We do a lot of productions from all across the campus, and as we use both new and legacy gear, this has often complicated matters, sometimes requiring signal conversions. As the Ensemble’s BrightEye 90-FA fiber-optic transmitter is also an up/ down/cross-converter, its use has simplified matters for us in this respect. We can now take audio in either analog or embedded formats and send it via fiber back to our main facility. without worrying about hooking up external conversion gear. The BrightEye 90-FA is also compact and very portable, making it easy to take on site where it’s needed and its front panel setup is a snap.

We’re also using BrightEye fiber gear at our satellite uplink facility. There we’ve installed a BrightEye 48 receiver with a built-in distribution amplifier that makes monitoring and signal distribution a cinch, eliminating the need for outboard d.a. cards. This enables us to send out sat signals in both standard-and high-definition video formats.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT VIDEO
Since switching to the BrightEye fiber system we’ve also noticed another improvement. This was in connection with the school’s most recent commencement ceremony that we televised locally. Before converting to BrightEye, we had had recurring audio automatic gain control issues with our old fiber drivers. This caused the noise floor to become elevated during quiet passages. As a result, we had to do some very close monitoring and frequent adjust level adjustments throughout the broadcast, and even so, were never really very satisfied with the way the audio sounded.

Our BrightEye fiber equipment has really made a difference in this area, allowing our operators to handle other duties without having to constantly worrying about audio. Now for the first time we’re finally satisfied with the way our fiber-delivered audio sounds.

Dee Ana Bell has been working as a broadcast engineer for nearly 30 years, with employment in commercial television in Northern California and a stint in the U.A. Air Force before joining the staff at Washington State University. She may be contacted at deeana@wsu.edu.

For additional information, contact Ensemble Designs at 530-478-1830 or visit www.ensembledesigns.com.



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