WFSU-TV/DT’s automation streamlines operations
For years, WFSU-TV/DT, public television for North Florida and part of the communications group of Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, had been haphazardly adding digital equipment to the existing analog plant.
With two successive federal grants, the station was able to convert most of the plant to digital, change to server-based recordings and add automation to better control the four-channel multicast it provides during the daytime.
In late 2003, the station received the first grant. It worked with Command, a broadcast TV reseller based in Clearwater, FL, to procure a video file server, a near-line network attached storage system (NAS), file conversion equipment, an archive management system and MicroFirst’s Digital Automation System (DAS) to tie it all together.
WFSU was mostly analog even though much of the equipment also put out digital signals. With the addition of a digital SeaChange server and the impending demise of the analog channel, the station made the decision to switch completely over to digital.
With that in mind, the facility bought conversion equipment and expanded its existing Venus router. Additionally, a digital level from its Saturn switcher was routed to the digital transmitter and then converted to analog for the analog transmitter. Two other levels of the switcher drove two more channels in the station’s multicast.
The staff at MicroFirst worked with the station to determine its needs. The MicroFirst DAS would soon control all aspects of the station’s master control, including the SeaChange server, automatic archiving to a near-line NAS, multiple levels of both its Saturn switcher and its Venus router, five DVCPro tape decks, five General Instruments’ satellite receivers and integrated scheduling with the station’s Meyers Pro-Trac traffic system. As a result, the automation has not only improved the facility’s on-air appearance, but also streamlined and simplified operations.
MicroFirst manufactures its own processing hardware with an embedded OS along with a comprehensive automated failover system for all automation processing, schedule execution, machine control and database management. The station achieved 100 percent redundancy with just three single rack-unit boxes.
The MicroFirst staff was receptive to feedback for software development to better control the station’s systems and allow operators increased flexibility. Overall, WFSU has had a successful conversion to the all-digital multichannel future.