A-Channel improves workflow
CHUM Television’s A-Channel in Barrie, Ontario, decided it was time to replace its aging Ampex analog production switcher. One of the design goals was to improve workflow within the control room while enhancing the station’s news product. The news production staff in Barrie also function as the ENG crew. To enhance the value of the station’s news content, this staff needed to spend more time on location and less time in the control room.
In 2003, CHUM’s engineering team began investigating new technologies in control room design and workflow. It discovered emerging technology in production control automation. Unfortunately, the product offerings at that time did not provide the facility the flexibility to manage the significant number of incoming feeds it used, up to seven feeds during any newscast. Also, the existing automation solutions only worked in a tapeless environment, and the station was tape-based, and new servers were not in the budget.
In 2004 Ross Video launched the OverDrive production control system, which was selected for the new facility. OverDrive is a Windows-based control system that allows live news production to be run manually, semi-automated or fully-automated at any time. It also provides an MOS LiveLink to the Avid iNews rundown, allowing for instantaneous rundown changes to be reflected from the newsroom to the production control system. It also integrated easily with A-Channel’s Ross Synergy digital production switcher.
To process the large number of external remote feeds, the facility chose a Leitch NEO system for frame synchronization. NEO allows the production staff to monitor and perform on-the-fly quality control adjustments on 18 external feeds simultaneously. The OverDrive system manages audio level adjustments for live quick hits from the field. The combination of these technologies enhances the facility’s ability to produce more high-quality content in the field.
In addition to the many technical achievements on this project, there were two significant logistical hurdles to overcome. First, unlike most new production control rooms, which are designed to be compact and minimalist, the A-Channel control room was built to be both a production and shooting environment. To accommodate this flexibility, the new facility was designed with professional studio lighting, good acoustical quality and well-thought-out camera positions. This design allows the facility to produce news that is consistent in look with all CHUM productions across Canada.
The second major challenge was the complete re-branding of the station, including new graphics, promos and set design. Despite the initial challenges, the cooperation among internal and parent company staff along with a professional partnership with many key vendors ensured a successful completion of the project.