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NVerzion's ATP

From a single television studio on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, Venture Technologies Group (VTG) operates four fully FCC-compliant TV stations in Los Angeles and two in Chicago. It also sends programming to additional stations in other parts of the country. Originally, the broadcaster supported only a single station with a timed event automation system. With subsequent expansions, came opportunities for short-form, 30-second commercials and greater profits. At that point, the timed event system didn't provide the functionality required, and the broadcaster needed to find an economical way to upgrade to a full-fledged automation system.

A familiar choice

The goal was to find a solution that would add short-form program support, allow for future expansion, automate full programming, offer increased storage management and maintain signal integrity while minimizing operational costs.

In a previous position at Local Televion Network (LTN), I was charged with finding and installing an expandable, multichannel master control solution on a small budget. However, the automation price was not the deciding factor. The NVerzion Acquisition and Transmission Package (ATP) provided not only the automation, but also the whole hardware package integrated according to my specifications for a complete master control — all within my budget. When presented with the challenge at VTG, I returned to the now defunct LTN and purchased its entire master control and broadcast automation solution.

A turnkey solution

NVerzion's ATP is a turnkey hardware and software automation solution for broadcasters to operate a 601 digital station. It combines all the necessary hardware and software components needed to facilitate a successful digital broadcast.

A digital station requires an abundance of equipment, including a router, a video file server, a VTR, monitors, a vectorscope and waveform monitor, an EAS, a logo generator, audio monitoring, A/V converters, and distribution amplifiers. All of these were installed in three racks with room to grow.

NVerzion's multichannel master control automation software is a collection of tools that link together to create a powerful solution tailored for each customer's need. It is centered on the company's 30-year-old Ethernet Machine Control (EMC) for network control of devices. Network-based tools include control of routers, VTRs, video servers, cart machines, DVD players and character generators, amongst other things.

User interface applications are the gateways between the user and the network-based control system. These applications include:

  • NGest for dubbing material into the system;
  • NControl for presentation;
  • NTime for scheduled recordings, router switches, satellite control and other timed-based events;
  • NPoint for media prep; and
  • NBase and NView for database and associated metadata control.

Built to fit

The VTG team rewired and reconfigured the hardware for this particular environment. NVerzion was called in to integrate the solution and provided five days of commissioning and training. The solution's modularity makes it easy and cost-effective to add channels. The highly flexible master control and automation solution fit within the station's budget.

Since the installation, the broadcaster has begun programming MTV Tr3s in Chicago and is taking full advantage of the short-run capability now available, including access to hundreds of advertising slots each day. In addition, it has recently acquired programming from a sports network in Mexico through an affiliation with one of its Los Angeles stations. ATP will allow the station to take advantage of the hundreds of short-form availabilities that programming brings.

VTG now has automation running all four of its Los Angeles stations. Both of the broadcaster's Chicago stations have been added to the automation system as well, giving the company six stations under automation, all running from the master control in Los Angeles. As a result, the broadcaster was able to make the transition from timed event to full automation quickly, and for a fraction of the originally anticipated budget.

Daniel Bissett is director of engineering for Venture Technologies Group.