WGCL-TV Automates With Ross

Gary Watkins (L), WGCL-TV director of engineering, and Gabriel Lopez, assistant chief engineer

ATLANTA— WGCL-TV is the Meredith Corp. television station here and recently decided to move into automated operations.

After analyzing several automation systems with our director of engineering, Gary Watkins, we decided that Ross Video’s Over- Drive was the best fit.

By integrating OverDrive, our production operations have now become more efficient, as we are able to perform multiple duties from one position, consistently and cleanly, with very little error. We often joke about how the technical position now looks like the cockpit of a 747. This even extends to calling our back-up technical producer a “co-pilot.”

Having the ability to control all of our production devices from this position is pretty amazing.

We use MOS protocol to interface OverDrive with our iNews system and our experience has been very positive. OverDrive has proven its ability to keep up with the rundown changes sometimes needed during our daily newscasts.

OverDrive automation and Ross Video’s Vision production switcher provide us with the best of both worlds with the flexibility required for major productions such as coverage of the recent national elections.

Our automation installation began in November 2011, and was completely operational by March. Initially, we took a conservative approach in transitioning to automated operations by softlaunching our newscasts one show at a time.

I have to admit that we did encounter a few interface challenges at first, but Ross worked with developers of other devices and provided the knowledge needed to interface all the equipment. We also ran into some OverDrive bugs, but Ross pulled us through, even going as far as providing an onsite programmer to write code. This was customer service at its best. And this level of support has not diminished after the installation. If we need assistance, I call Ross support and receive a call back in less than an hour—if not immediately.

After installation, our learning curve was minimal since we were already using Ross Video’s Vision production switcher, with very intuitive operation. In the middle of our training session, you could just see the “light bulb” turn on for our technical producers, and also observe the nervousness some of our personnel had turn to excitement. And while we do have an OverDrive “guru” on staff to provide additional support, all of our operators have a good understanding of the system as a whole and are comfortable with it.

It’s been really interesting to watch our directors and TDs collaborate in creating their new workflow. Although challenging at first, our staff quickly overcame any growing pains associated with the new workflows.

Ross Video has helped our facility join the automated world while still maintaining the integrity of our productions. I challenge other vendors to provide the level of support Ross Video does.

Gabriel Lopez is assistant chief engineer at WGCL-TV and has worked in the television industry for 11 years. He may be contacted atgabriel.lopez@cbsatlanta.com.

For additional information, contact Ross Video at 613-652-4886 or visitwww.rossvideo.com.