With the majority of the digital transmission build-out completed, broadcasters are now focusing on other areas to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve the quality of their production offerings.
In recent years, the implementation of digital server systems, CG MOS workflows and robotic cameras has facilitated production efficiency. However, facilities are searching for further enhancements that offer immediate improvements to operational efficiency and the bottom line. One new technology that accomplishes these goals is Ross Video's OverDrive production control system.
OverDrive features integrated, centralized production control for devices and effects in a production rundown. This allows for a single operator to manage program playout. With the addition of a MOS protocol interface to the newsroom system, the workflow uses the production control system for playout of newsroom-produced programming.
The system provides live production facilities with a rundown-based, event-driven workflow that matches the visual toolsets and operational workflow used in common newsroom systems. Using modern Java programming technologies for system clients running on a Microsoft XP platform, OverDrive offers a stable, future-proof and reliable control platform.
Extensive industry consultation and feedback from customer sites have identified the following control system key benefits:
- ScalabilityUsers can instantly transition between manual, semi- or fully-automated production environments in the same control room using the same devices.
- FlexibilityUsers can easily manage scripted or unscripted events and last-second changes with minimal operator intervention. Cut-ins, talk shows, 24-hour highlight programs and back-to-back news productions can be managed seamlessly on one control system.
- ROIUsers can experience a rapid return on investment by optimizing crew size, reducing production errors and on-air mistakes, and adding new production capacity during mornings, late evenings and weekends.
- Device selectionUsers can choose their preferred equipment brands to integrate with the system, whether with current legacy devices or new technology.
The primary application in this technology controls rundown playout. In OverDrive, for example, the RundownControl application manages all switcher effects, keys and external device control. Users can create rundowns locally, on a remote client or in the newsroom system with an ActiveX desktop plug-in.
A rundown is made up of stories that contain one or more events. Each event is designed around a template that is created by entering specific or placeholder data into a number of fields. Data in a template could include switcher memory, CustomControl (programmable macro) ID, timing triggers, picon (picture icon for identification), device control (such as server clip, camera preset or audio channel level) and descriptive information.
A well-designed control system with a flexible architecture allows the system to be used in production-assist environments, fully automated one-operator control environments and any configuration in between. It also allows for the ability to scale staff (from one operator to a full traditional crew) between or during a production to accommodate a facility's specific needs.
In live news production, unscripted events and late-breaking stories are common. Transitioning seamlessly from scripted to unscripted operation while on-air is an essential requirement. A control system needs to provide powerful tools that allow these situations to be handled effortlessly and without error. For use in these situations, OverDrive features QuickRecall and CustomControl toolsets.
Last-second changes in the newsroom system must be immediately reflected in the control system, and the status of the control system rundown needs to be displayed on the newsroom GUI for the benefit of the producer. A real-time MOS interface allows editorial or rundown sequence changes in the newsroom system to automatically update the control system, providing coincident rundowns at all times.
Additional elements to consider when purchasing control system technology include the redundancy of hardware and data, the selection of device interfaces available and any optional components, such as satellite control panels and remote clients. Any licensing or maintenance fees must also be investigated. All of these items impact the system operational costs and the ultimate benefit the system can provide to your organization.
Although integrated control system technology is relatively new, the growing number of facilities that have implemented it have experienced an immediate reduction in production operational costs, increased production capabilities and an improved quality of their production offerings.
Brad Rochon is product manager of OverDrive for Ross Video.