BILLERICA, MASS.– While South Carolina Educational Television 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.
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, SCETV project manager, Ben 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 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 said.
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.