Echolab Leads WWAY Into HD Production

We investigate new technology as it becomes available, constantly evaluating new tools that could give us a competitive edge.
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Billy Stratton WILMINGTON, N.C.
When people move to a new place, they tend to shop for a television station. And once they feel comfortable with one, they stay with it. Here in Wilmington, we have retirees moving in all the time and we've always got new eyes testing the channel. This means that we absolutely must have the best picture, the best content and the best weather coverage. We investigate new technology as it becomes available, constantly evaluating new tools that could give us a competitive edge.

Our purchase of a new production switcher has allowed us to move into local high-definition and viewers have noticed the difference, providing feedback in person and through our Web site.

We had been using an Echolab Opera SD production switcher, but we decided to upgrade to an Overture2 MD last year. The Overture2 MD includes internal up/cross conversion of signals, allowing us to avoid the need for external devices. Multiple component and HD/SDI outputs are also built in, eliminating the need for additional equipment, and saving money for other upgrades.

M/E MAGIC

Another factor influencing our decision was cost. The Overture2 is reasonably priced, as it is a two M/E switcher, and this provides a cost advantage over its larger cousins. I received a demonstration of the Overture at the 2008 NAB Show and told my production staff about it, but we were using a two-and-a-half M/E switcher and everyone was pushing for three M/E's. However, the Echolab folks convinced me we didn't really need the extra M/E to accomplish everything we wanted.

Added capacity and flexibility is provided through Overture's SuperSource crosspoint, a pre-composited input that enables us to build a custom layout using as many as four DVEs and a graphic, and then assign the layered composition to a crosspoint button. SuperSource includes five of its own keyers, making upstream and downstream keyers available for adding lower thirds, tickers, or other elements. With SuperSource, we can build effects that would have required a whole M/E in the past. These are easily recalled by pushing a button.

STAFF WAS CONVINCED

The staff didn't believe how much a two M/E switcher could do, or how easy it would be to operate, until Echolab's trainer, Chris McClendon, showed them. After this demonstration, our production manager had to admit that the switcher really was a workhorse.

We also purchased Echolab's Conductor touchscreen panel, which is loaded with software that makes it even easier to build effects. With Conductor and Overture together, everything is arranged in a logical manner, and the combination is a pleasure to use.

One of the best parts of a job in television engineering is always being on the leading edge of technology. The Echolab Overture switcher has enabled us to make a big jump in terms of picture and programming quality at a very reasonable price. And, as our experience demonstrates, the design of the switcher makes it almost endlessly upgradable for the future as well. In contrast to a lot of the equipment we have at WWAY, we plan to grow old with our Echolab switcher.

Billy Stratton has more than 20 years experience in broadcast and communication. He has been chief engineer at WWAY for two-and-a-half years. He may be contacted atbstratton@wwaytv3.com.

For additional information, contact Echolab at 978-715-1020 or visitwww.echolab.com.