Ignite Streamlines WBOC-TV's Newscasts

When we decided to upgrade our facilities in 2006, we looked for a cost-effective way to implement the highest quality equipment we could afford.

by Dan Panichella
Chief Engineer

SALISBURY, MD. In late August, and with the help of our systems integrator, The Systems Group, we became the first in our market to produce and broadcast local newscasts in high definition. We are now able to produce news content for both the local CBS and Fox network affiliated stations from our new facility, thanks to a lot of pre-planning and our decision to install a Grass Valley Ignite automated production system.

When we decided to upgrade our facilities in 2006, we looked for a cost-effective way to implement the highest quality equipment we could afford. It all had to be HD-compatible and had to allow our news staff to be as productive as they could be. That vision has become a reality with the completion of our new 11,000-square-foot facility.

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Dan Panichella Our Grass Valley Ignite HD system is used with two Panasonic SD tape decks, and as we shoot with DVCPRO cameras in the field, upconversion is performed by the Grass Valley Kayak switcher associated with the Ignite. The system controls the tape decks along with our three video server channels.


Our decision to go with the Grass Valley Ignite system was based on several factors. We wanted a system that would allow our newscasts to be error free, and we also needed a quick turnaround between shows. Daily, we produce five hours of news for our CBS outlet, WBOC-TV, and a 10:00 p.m. show for the Fox channel. Both are now produced in HD with the Ignite system. Ignite's automation capabilities have changed the way we produce news for the better.

Using the system's Transition Macro Elements technology (TME), a director will "code" a show with the appropriate TME after receiving the script. TME's treat news segments and transitions as "events" on an event timeline, allowing every live newscast segment to be pre-programmed and previewed prior to airing.

We have four Grass Valley HDC robotic cameras in our new "NewsPlex" studio that are used for shooting the main desk, weather and interview set. Live production is handled with the Ignite HD system, via a shot box. There's also a VGA display with a GUI of the Kayak switcher control panel, allowing directors to "hot punch" a video source when necessary.

Several Grass Valley representatives provided training on the Ignite system for our employees, making it easy for them to acquire operational skills. Our news team also adjusted to the new workflow, which includes non-linear editing.


The station's newscasts now look "cleaner" than ever, as the Ignite system allowed us to eliminate many manual and redundant processes. Even our audio sounds better, as it is now mixed with a Klotz Digital audio console that is integrated into the Ignite system.

It's a pleasure to watch a newscast come together by staff members using some of the newest technology. It's more than just automating the production process—we feel as if we are better able to handle any type of breaking news story and get it on air faster than our competition. That's the value the Ignite system has brought to our station.

Dan Panichella has been chief engineer at WBOC-TV for five years and has been with the station for 33 years. He may be contacted at danpan@wboc.com.

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