Art MurphyBOSTON—In July 2008, we began broadcasting our network programming and some commercial and promo spots in high definition while continuing to run other spots and shows in standard definition. We didn’t have a real HD master control operation, so we took a hybrid approach by using our Grass Valley M2100 for SD content and a high-definition signal router to handle HD content, with our station automation system controlling the breakaways to and from HD. Last minute changes to our playlists had to be edited exactly right or there would be on-air problems. Further complicating things was the requirement to switch multiple secondary events for breakaways.
OLD SYSTEM WAS CLUNKY AT BEST
It wasn’t the best way in the world to handle the transition to HD, but the system worked and we lived with it for about two years. However, more and more of our program content and commercials were being delivered to us in HD and this resulted in our playlists becoming much busier and more complicated.
Those factors helped pave the way for the purchase and installation of a new HD master control system in 2011. In making our equipment choice, we evaluated several vendors of master control switcher products. In the end, the feature set of the Grass Valley Maestro, combined with 10 years of good experience with our existing Grass Valley M2100 SD master control system were the driving forces in staying with Grass Valley.
We selected one HD switcher frame for WHDH and one for our sister station, WLVI. Both frames are locally controlled by a single Grass Valley hardware control panel, as well as one Grass Valley GUI and our station automation system. All sources coming into the HD Maestro are either native HD or have been upconverted to HD. Our on-air automation lists are now much easier to manage due to the reduced number of breakaways that were previously required for switching.
We purchased the Maestro system with Grass Valley’s internal DVE option, allowing us to do squeezebacks for such things as school closings and election results, and to add logos, program IDs and other elements and effects to help differentiate our channels from others in the market. Maestro also provides a number of integrated features and control options, including support for multiformat video and audio on a single board.
TRAINING MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
As we received excellent training from Grass Valley, the new Maestro system was relatively easy for our operators to learn. Yes, there was a learning curve, but it really wasn’t that difficult. And all of our master control people really like the large user-friendly control panel and the GUI that’s a part of the new switching system.
Since installing the new Maestro master control our on-air problems have been greatly reduced. That’s the thing about a Grass Valley Master Control—once it’s set up, it just keeps on running.
Art Murphy has served as studio engineering crew chief at WHDH since 1976. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Grass Valley at 800-547-8949 or visitwww.grassvalley.com.
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