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Trouble-Free SI


TVCOM is a local TV station covering the area of Brabant Wallon in Belgium. Three technicians work with me in the engineering department. There are twelve local TV stations in our region and we cooperate by sharing some programming. We all produce regional shows on various topics, and we share that programming amongst the group. Each station handles its own sports and news.

TVCOM’s Avenue Unit We moved into a new facility two and a half years ago. At that time we took the opportunity to upgrade most of our equipment. We worked with StudioTek, our local systems integrator, on the upgrade and they suggested Ensemble Designs’ Avenue signal integration system to handle functions such as audio embedders, log inserter, ARC/upconverters, and reference generators. I’ve since recommended Ensemble to colleagues. We are happy with it – it is truly ‘plug and play’.

Once a week we get a basketball feed by satellite. The Tandberg satellite receiver’s SD SDI output goes to an Avenue 7600 where the signal is demuxed so we can have better control of the source and we can choose the right audio channel. The 7600 disembeds the audio and has a channel mixer. We use several 7600 embedder/disembedder modules for playout. There are four additional 7600 modules in production.

The 7600’s mixer is controlled from the Avenue PC software. The software is easy to use and controls all of the modules in our Avenue system if we need to adjust timing or any other parameters.

One of the Avenue 3 RU frames serves as our reference rack. The Avenue 7400 sync reference generator module feeds DAs in the frame which feed reference to all the equipment in the station. The 7400 has SD SDI outputs and composite outputs with test signals and black. We also use the Avenue sync changeover in the same frame for backup house reference. The 7400 also has HD test signals if we need them in the future.

Live feeds come in from OB vans for news and sports on a regular basis. Once we were standing by for a feed from Carnaval De Binche; of course, we were expecting 16:9. At the last minute the OB had a problem and had to send a 4:3 signal right before we were to go to air. We quickly routed the feed to the Ensemble ARC (aspect ratio converter) and converted to 16:9 just in time. It was the very first time we used the ARC and it only took a minute to configure. Awesome!

Our upgrade is in process, and we plan to change out our server in the future. The router we use for our core is an Evertz 32x32 SD/HD router. The master control is a Ross CrossOver with 2 MEs, 32 in and 16 out. The Avenue modules all handle HD and SD; and as we upgrade they will be ready for any equipment we get in the future.

We are a small TV station. The less we have to do for maintenance, the better. The Avenue equipment is just like our Macs. They just work and we rarely make any adjustments.

Olivier Herman is TVCOM’s Directeur technique et artistique. He has been at TVCOM for 14 years, and in charge of the technical department for the last three years.