Gordon Bell, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Operations, KCET Television /
12.04.2012 05:25 PM
KCET Automates With Pebble Beach Systems

Gordon Bell
BURBANK, CALIF.—KCET is an independent public television station, servicing Central and Southern California. We’re currently in the process of merging with Link Media, an independent non-profit public media company based in San Francisco, to form KCETLink. We anticipate that in early 2013 programming from the newly formed company will be available in 33 million households via DirecTV and Dish Network from Link, and another 5.6 million households via KCET.

In 2011 we made the decision to move the entire operation from our legacy Sunset Boulevard location and create an entirely new home from the ground up here in Burbank.

Our new facility incorporates an array of leading-edge technologies and was designed to adapt to new challenges and operating models.

As we had only 12 months to complete the project, we were faced with some very interesting logistical and technical challenges. Early in the design process we opted to stay with a video-centric infrastructure rather than to adopt an IT model with channel-in-a-box technology. Our balance of live events, production studios, complex and simple passthrough services weighed in on this decision.

Clearly, the choice of automation system was a key decision, and our engineering and master control operation teams participated directly in the evaluation. After evaluating several systems, we finally selected Pebble Beach Systems’ Marina enterprise automation. Our choice was based on physical and software architectures, resiliency and serviceability, operational learning curve and user interfaces, plus the ability to keep up with realities of our own “rethink TV” initiatives. We also placed major emphasis on both local and remote support capabilities. Another factor in our selection was Marina’s 64-bit platform. This gave us confidence that, in addition to handling all our current requirements, the system will be future proof.

The switchover ocurred in April, and I have to admit that the complex transition was not without issues as new technologies and workflows were implemented. However, open, and honest discussions are key to working through such problems and the team at Pebble Beach Systems certainly stepped up to the plate and worked with us to resolve these issues via phone support and onsite visits. They’ve been responsive throughout, and we continue to work with them as more services have come online.

Since we put the system on-air we’ve been particularly impressed with the ease and speed at which it changes over from the main Marina server to the backup server when needed. It’s a genuinely seamless process, and the system’s redundancy at every hardware element and software module ensures the highest degree of resiliency and serviceability.

Gordon Bell is KCET’s vice president of engineering and operations and has been with the station since 1998. He may be contacted at gbell@kcet.org.

For additional information, contact Pebble Beach Systems at www.pebble.tv.

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