The Grass Valley Apex audio router
Although we have been broadcasting high-definition programming since 2001, WNET completed the migration of all of its production operations to HD this past January. As part of this conversion, we've built a new two-floor, street-level facility located separately from our headquarters, with studio cameras and monitors controlled remotely.
We had to expand our signal distribution infrastructure to accommodate more HD content and a significant but decreasing number of SD shows as well.
For the past few years we've been using a Grass Valley 7000 series router for SD and a small Grass Valley Concerto to convert signals when necessary, and to support our HD broadcasts. Recognizing that this was no longer adequate for our purposes, we installed a 256x256 Grass Valley Trinix HD video router and 128x128 Grass Valley Apex digital audio frame, both controlled by Grass Valley Encore software.
The Trinix was purchased used and completely retrofitted (including a fresh warranty and service contract). It had been previously installed at MSNBC's Secaucus, N.J. facility.
We still deal with standard definition, and the Trinix gives us much more SD capacity than we had before. It's also providing expanded HD routing capability as well.
PLAYS WELL WITH AUTOMATED PLANT
In an automated broadcast environment such as ours, it's critical that we have a reliable, totally redundant routing infrastructure that gets signals where they have to go, and at exactly the time they're needed. We call this "deterministic switching," and it's critical to what we do on a daily basis. There are some 18 outside sources delivered via satellite that we ingest on a daily basis, and we have nine playout channels. This part of the operation is totally automated, thanks to the Trinix. Our routers (under automation system control) have to manage all of that without any downtime.
The Trinix has been very reliable, as we knew it would be, although there was a bit of a learning curve with the Grass Valley Encore router control software we installed. Now that we're adept at configuring it, the Encore software has proven very flexible and is used for all of our logging and signal management, in addition to traditional signal distribution.
BROADCAST LANDSCAPE IS VERY COMPLICATED
We've been a Grass Valley user for many years, and have confidence in the company's ability to get a job done. There's a lot more to routing today than ever before. You just can't replace a box with a newer box. The controllers, the software and many other elements are crucial to making the system work.
We've upgraded our video and AES audio distribution capabilities and can now switch HD better than ever before. As our Trinix router supports up to 1080p/59.94 (3 Gbps) signals, were ready for anything thrown at us or that we might want to pursue in the future.
We really like the Grass Valley Trinix and Apex platforms as they provide lots of features per card and give us the ability to mix and match different processing cards in the same frame. This has helped us immensely by keeping our costs down while still providing access to the most advanced features.
Frank Graybill has served as director of engineering at WNET.org for the past two years. Prior to that he served as chief engineer. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information, contact Grass Valley at 800-547-8949 or visit www.grassvalley.com