Ensemble Routes Bay Area Stations’ Signals

Rick Owen

SAN FRANCISCO—KTNC-TV and KCNS serve the San Francisco market with Spanish language programming as their primary services, and also offer a variety of secondary program streams. Our studios are located off the Embarcadero across from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Just as most television station master control environments have evolved from one or two switched programmed streams to multiple channel operations, our two stations have steadily added additional programming streams as the value of secondary services have increased since the digital conversion.

This multichannel environment led to a different design for master control switching. As our central router was nearing the end of its service life and only handled standard-definition video, we decided to introduce several smaller master control routers dedicated to each program stream. In addition to providing us with a higher level of redundancy, these dedicated-channel MC routers made it easy to convert from standard to high definition on a channel- by-channel basis.

We selected Ensemble Designs 9430 routers and 5830 control panels which fitted our design requirements perfectly. Each program stream has a main and backup router controlled by separate automation ports. The output of these redundant routers feed an Ensemble 7460 protection switch to assure reliable operation should any one network satellite receiver, server playback channel, or automation playlist malfunction. Offline troubleshooting is made easy by switching an alternate path to air.

The 5830 control panel’s thumbnail displays are an incredibly helpful operational feature. In addition to providing a quick preview function, the images serve as a built-in master control monitoring backup to our multiviewer monitor wall. Should the multiviewer need to be temporally taken offline for software updates or maintenance issues, operators can rely on the thumbnails to verify correct programs are on the air. This reduces the need for additional monitors at the master control console and simplifies the operational environment.

Configuration management of the Ensemble routing system is based on built-in and easy-to-navigate Web pages. The entire system status and control is right there in the browser window.

The routers and protection switches are just two of the wide variety of hardware cards available for the Avenue frames. Our installations use a mix of Ensemble Design distribution amplifiers, video and audio processing, along with a mix of conversion cards. The ability to mix and match what you need in each frame simplifies path design and minimizes external wiring.

Ensemble sent their support team to help us during installation and configuration, providing customized software updates and answering any questions that arose.

We’re looking forward to a long service life with this equipment, knowing the hardware has proven itself reliable and trouble free.

Rick Owen is chief engineer at KTNCTV/KCNS. He began his broadcasting career in 1978 and joined KTNC-TV/KCNS in 2012. He may be contacted atrowen@ktnc.com.

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