There was a time when routers were the key to an entire broadcast facility. Then, I had to think of new router purchases in terms of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as building huge rooms to house and cool them. A router was arguably the most mission-critical technology purchase I could make.
Thankfully, routing systems have changed. A large portion of what goes on is now done via file transfer. Still, there's a need for hardware routers, although they're not the end-all/be-all that they once were. New technology has allowed us to build a facility affordably using both Ethernet and hardware routing.
READYING FOR HD OPS
Right now, we're building a routing infrastructure that will support WCIV-TV's move to HD. This infrastructure will combine standard routing technology, along with new automation capabilities and PC and hardware control panels. To accomplish this, we've chosen Blackmagic Design's Broadcast Videohub and Intelligent Media Consultant's Router Link automation control software.
We've been using the Videohub as our routing platform. Its ability to handle SD and HD signals has allowed us to quickly migrate to HD throughout our facility. We can do automatic switching of SD, HD and 3 Gbps SDI video, all from the extremely compact Videohub.
The Videohub router's 72 inputs and 144 outputs provide us with a great many routing options. Blackmagic Design provides three sizes to accommodate the needs of most any facility.
The Videohub allowed us to reduce the amount of rack space needed for routing and its efficient circuitry also cut the amount of power and cooling that was needed for older router designs. One of the best features is the router's price tag, just $14,995.
NO PUSHBUTTONS OR ROUTER PANELS NEEDED
Moving beyond just the hardware, unlike many "old school" broadcasters, I don't need physical buttons on countless control panels around the facility. However, these are important for some of our switching applications and we still use them, but we're set up for a combination of hardware and PC-driven router system control. By using PC-driven control through the Videohub's management software and combining it with Blackmagic's new Smart Control hardware control panel, our staff can be much more efficient.
Our operators need only view what they require and don't have to wade through patch cables or stand in line at a router panel to accomplish what they can easily do from their own PC. In fact, many of the routing chores performed by our operators are done by editors and journalists from their desk top.
After the router's installation, our next step was automation. We chose Router Link by IMC, and found that it integrates seamlessly with the Videohub system. The new system provides a flawless automation interface where we can add log-ins and permissions, and run a much more efficient facility.
Both Blackmagic and Router Link allow us to build a reliable and affordable routing infrastructure that's paving the way for our move into the world of HDTV.
Jim Church is vice president of news and operations at WCIV-TV. He has previously served as vice president of operations and technology at Washington, D.C. sister station, WJLA-TV. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or visit www.blackmagic-design.com