Grass Valley Server Supports WTVI Ops

As a public television station owned and supported by the people of Charlotte it's always been our mission to help educate the community in the most efficient way.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C.
At WTVI, we’ve been broadcasting in digital and high definition since 2002. As a public television station owned and supported by the people of Charlotte it’s always been our mission to help educate the community in the most efficient way, and DTV’s multicasting capabilities allow us to do that and a lot more.

Each day, we transmit four standard-definition streams during daytime, and one HD and two SD channels between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. To manage this type of file-based play-out, we rely on video servers in a big way. They have to be reliable and reduce manual processes so the staff can focus on other parts of the operation.

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Tom Green In mid-2005 we replaced some older servers with two Grass Valley K2 media server systems that included one HD media client and two SD media clients (all with four-channel capability). These provide 700 hours of SD capacity or 300 hours of HD capacity of RAID-protected storage. This was a very easy upgrade from our older video server equipment and the Grass Valley K2s were very easy to interface with our automation system, which was key in keeping our play-out and record activities working. We simply schedule a program, place the file on the timeline, and the K2 server finds the clip and plays it. The best part about the Grass Valley K2 servers is that they allow us to operate play-out/record hands-free, so we don’t have to think about it.

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With the play-out system that we have now, if something goes down we’re ready to jump to a backup server and keep on broadcasting. At any one time, we may need four servers for play-out to air, plus up to two more to record incoming feeds. That leaves us with two spare servers for redundancy. So, we could lose one client server and still maintain our on-air signal.

In choosing the Grass Valley K2, we’ve deployed a server that can handle SD and HD content on the same timeline and one that performs automatic upconversion or downconversion via built-in encoders and processing boards that support multiple video/audio I/O as necessary. The K2 server provides this capability and more. We can set it up to change resolution and aspect ratios on the fly without having to touch anything. We can also use one of the HD servers for SD if necessary.

SERVICE AND RELIABILITY

We had a few interfacing issues early on, but Grass Valley was good about helping us fix them. Our relationship with Grass Valley has always been good and they continue to provide great service. With Grass Valley servers’ no-single-point-of-failure design, you can rely on them to be operational at all times. We didn’t have time to experiment with a server that’s not going to keep us on the air, even if it was less expensive.

The fact that we have had very few problems tells you a lot about the reliability of the K2 servers. We couldn’t be happier with our decision to go with Grass Valley. Our viewers in the Charlotte market appreciate it as well.

Tom Green has been with WTVI television for the past 20 years, and has served as chief engineer since 2003 He may be contacted at tgreen@wtvi.org

For additional information, contact Thomson Grass Valley at 800-547-8949 or visit www.thomsongrassvalley.com.