Ensemble Designs Simplifies Ops at WISC-TV

Steve Paugh MADISON, WISC.—We’re the primary CBS affiliate here and also operate a subchannel dubbed “TVW” (TV Wisconsin). In addition, we have a collaborative arrangement and IP linkage with WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and WGBA-TV in Green Bay for transmission of content.

This linkage is primarily used for HD video; however, there are times when I’m sending SD material and it’s necessary to upconvert this to HD.

To handle this, we’re using the Ensemble Designs 7910 upconverter. It normally passes HD signals, but detects the presence of SD and will automatically upconvert that material to the proper HD format. This functionality makes it extremely easy for us to match resolutions to our broadcast requirements. The 7910 even properly translates between the SD and HD captioning data, providing an automatic and transparent conversion between video standards and formats—something that not all converters can do. This too is a really big help in our day-to-day operations.

We also use the Ensemble Designs 7600 HS/SD embedder and de-embedder, which can be configured for use as a multiplexer with one video input and four AES audio inputs, with the AES input sources being embedded into the video stream. When the unit is configured as a demultiplexer, any audio signals present in the incoming video signal are extracted and delivered as standard AES digital audio streams. It also allows us to adjust the levels of embedded audio content and to remap the channels if necessary before delivering the audio content as an embedded signal. The 7600 even has an automatic gain control feature that we use with our studio audio output.

Our experience with the Ensemble Designs Avenue system has been quite good. We have more than 20 Avenue frames that are networked together and controlled via a 10/100baseT network, which is augmented with fiber I/P linkage between buildings at our facility. One of the really nice features is that there are no card tray rear panel adapter plates needed—basically, you can take any sort of card and put it in the slot that’s most convenient for your particular setup.

Ensemble makes a very large selection of signal processing boards and we use a number of them in our operation. We rely on the company’s d.a.s, sync generator, test pattern generators, embedders/deembedders, and up-, down- cross-converters, just to name a few. Ensemble’s use of BNC connectors on the rear of the card frame is also a welcome feature.

The Avenue’s touchscreen user interface feature is very intuitive and easy to use, and turns the configuration of individual circuit cards into a nonevent. The interface even provides a display of the BNC connector layout for each of the cards, which is displayed right there on the front panel.

All of our Ensemble Designs gear has worked great. It’s designed specifically for the demands of the broadcast environment and the company’s customer service is exceptional, providing us with replacement boards on an overnight basis on the few occasions where this has been necessary. Ensemble features good gear, good people, and good service.

Steve is a project engineer at WISCTV, and has been with the operation for some 25 years. He may be contacted atspaugh@wisctv.com.

For additional information, contact Ensemble Designs at 530-478-1830 or visitwww.ensembledesigns.com.