Avitech's Rainier-16U1V

What do you do to help your community rebuild following a devastating tornado? It's a question several communities had to ask themselves this spring. Following an EF5 tornado in 2007 that obliterated 95 percent of the Greensburg, KS, county seat, the chair of the Kiowa County Media Center's board of directors, Janet West, decided that one of the keys to the future would be to build and establish the Kiowa County Media Center using state-of-the-art digital television technologies. The media center will serve to:

  • Inform and serve residents;
  • Support student-produced live Internet broadcasts of Kiowa County High School football and basketball games;
  • Teach new career skills;
  • Democratize city and county governments with live, interactive Internet broadcasts;
  • Showcase innovative, environmentally sound rebirth;
  • Support community-based journalism; and
  • Provide a new Internet-based model for replication.

The Kiowa County Media Center's board of directors receives technical design and installation support from a Kansas State University team led by Bert Biles, executive producer for the Division of Communications and Marketing, and Brandon Utech, director of technical services at NILMT.

Major components of the media center include a 22ft HDTV production trailer to support live remote broadcasts and a permanent HDTV production studio in the LEED Platinum-certified Kiowa County Commons building.

Both the trailer and the studio incorporate a pair of Avitech Rainier-16U1V multiviewers. The installers chose the multiviewers partly for their compact size. Conserving rack space was important in a trailer in which most of the equipment had to fit in two full-size racks. The team also chose the multiviewers for their ease of use. The crew members using the production trailer and the studio could be anyone from an experienced television producer or director to a high school volunteer, so the layout of the multiviewer system needed to be simple, yet flexible.

According to Biles, the multiviewer is a simple product understandable to even the most novice of users (once the concept of cascading inputs is explained). Additionally, the multiviewers' ability to automatically detect the format of the input signals simplified the installation. He added that the system's IP-based network allows users to customize the window layouts, colors and labels.

Utech observed that the layout-configuration presets that shipped with the multiviewers were useful because they provided detailed working examples of how the system could be configured and customized within the Galaxy control software.

The multiviewers will accept up to 16 HD-SDI video signals and one VGA signal. This enables the media center to display a variety of HD-SDI images from HD-SDI cameras and other sources, as well as display the control interface image from the NewTek TriCaster TCXD850, which is available as a VGA computer image. In the HDTV production trailer, the control interface image from the NewTek 3PLAY HD-SDI slow-motion instant replay unit — also a VGA computer image — is displayed on the second 46in monitor.

The installers also resolved another design challenge using the multiviewers: There was a separate room at the rear of the production trailer for the audio mix operator, and it was not physically possible for that person to see the two large 46in monitors the rest of the crew used at the front of the trailer.

The team simply took the DVI output from each of the two multiviewer systems, passed each of the signals through a DVI distribution amplifier and, while feeding one set of signals to the two front displays, fed the same set of signals to a smaller pair of 23in displays located behind and just above the audio mixing console at the rear of the trailer. Now the audio mix operator, while sitting in a different room and facing in the opposite direction from that of the director, can still see anything the director can see.

“[Center] visitors are surprised to learn that the Avitech Rainier-16U1V multiviewer systems collect and present all 17 video images they see on each of the two 46in monitors [mounted on the front wall of the trailer],” said Grant Neuhold, center programming producer.

Janet West is president of the Kiowa County Media Center's board of directors.