A natural extension

The Outdoor Channel (TOC) in Temecula, CA, began in 1991 as a family-run cable channel offering hunting, fishing and gold prospecting programming to a small, like-minded and passionate audience. Today, it has nearly 27 million viewers and has crafted its message to directly attract the nation's 82 million anglers, hunters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

TOC's mission is to continually offer the highest quality of original, family-oriented content and to have the most respected, authoritative and entertaining personalities in the outdoor programming arena. Always using the latest technology is an important element in consistently delivering the best possible product to subscribers.

Room for growth

The need for a new broadcast facility arose out of TOC's phenomenal growth. The 2005 launch of a separate 24/7 all-HD channel, Outdoor Channel 2HD, ultimately drove the network to seek a larger, more consolidated and technologically advanced operations space. Now, TOC sits in a 39,000sq-ft HD facility designed by Studio 440, an architectural firm in Los Angeles.

Working closely with Atlanta-based Technical Innovations Broadcast Solutions Group (TIBSG), TOC began the process by identifying some primary design criteria. Ideally, TOC wanted a facility that would maximize workflow; improve media management, preparation and playout; bring the satellite uplink and compression systems in-house; and provide all technical systems with substantial expansion capabilities.

Architecturally, TOC wanted to showcase its state-of-the-art systems in a way that would accommodate visitor tours and walkthroughs. And it was important that the new building evoke the spirit of the outdoors in its design and implementation.

TOC purchased an available building across the street from its existing site. This made supervision of construction easier at a time when attention needed to be given to the launch and initial programming demands of the new HD channel. TOC and TIBSG employed a phased project approach, ensuring that each crucial decision would be carefully planned, scheduled and executed in the most effective manner.

Carving its mark

During the initial design phase, TOC, TIBSG and Studio 440 arrived at an innovative concept to align master control, media operations and the central equipment room as a primary technical core. This core is enclosed within a custom-glazed partition system. The facility's ancillary functions are organized around the core, configured to provide views back into the technical space. A pathway goes around through the core areas.

Once construction commenced, an 18in cavity was carved out of the one-time Temecula tire factory's foundation to accommodate signal cables, electrical services and fire protection services below a new access floor system. An interstitial ceiling space conceals mechanical, lighting and additional fire protection systems and creates cable pathways to the upper level digital edit bays.

Providing all building services from above and below eliminated the need for localized equipment and electrical rooms. The result is an uncluttered, refined core, open on all sides for views and circulation.

TOC's new broadcast center is a hybrid of HD and SD digital and analog video and audio systems. And all allow for future upgrades in space and technology. This includes the Leitch NEXIO HD server platform, SuiteView wall processors and Integrator GOLD routing. TIBSG coordinated the Forecast custom consoles to complement Studio 440's interior design concepts. Some of the other technical highlights of the facility include two SDI streams for the East and West Coasts, one HD stream; eight edit suites; and a media operations center with two ingest stations.

The nitty gritty

For the broadcast center's new in-house compression, the Scientific Atlanta PowerVu system encodes the HD and SD channels and then multiplexes them onto a single ASI bit stream for modulation and uplink. The user interface, the PowerVu network center, allows for monitoring all aspects of the compression process. It also allows engineering to manipulate bandwidths, output levels and configurations, as well as for the management of the PowerVu receiver database for customer authorization.

The Scientific Atlanta modulator in the central equipment room sends the 70MHz IF signal via coax to a transmission shelter. Inside this shelter, the signal runs through a 1:1 redundant pair of MITEQ slope equalizers and upconverters to a 1:1 redundant set of CPI 400W C-Band TWTAs for uplink. A 7.2m VertexRSI antenna sits on top of this transmission shelter, sending the TOC signal up to the Panamsat G10R satellite. All of this is tied to TOC's Crystal Computer monitor and control system, which notifies the master control operator of any system faults via a remote user interface.

TOC's new broadcast center uses a state-of the art backup generator and UPS system, as well as an FM-200 fire suppression system in the critical data areas. The network has everything needed to be self-sufficient and redundant should an emergency arise.

A natural space

With constant interaction, flexibility and creativity from the respective teams at TOC, TIBSG and Studio 440, the new facility was completed on schedule and within budget. The new facility represents a technological extension of The Outdoor Channel's established brand, complete with a moose head that hangs over the entrance to master control.

However impressive the architecture and design of the center, these elements are overshadowed by the innovative technology in use and on display. In addition to effectively meeting TOC's current production and technical needs, this building also holds the key to the network's future with the ability to easily upgrade, expand and update the space and technology as business dictates.

As one of the more technologically advanced broadcast centers in the region, TOC also offers outside productions, broadcasters and the community at large the use of its production and editing facilities, as well as access to purchase uplink and satellite space capacity via its available bandwidth on the cable bird, Galaxy 10R. In addition, TOC has integrated fiber and downlink connectivity at the facility, as well as direct Internet connectivity — services TOC plans to offer for sale. TOC has direct fiber connectivity to Verizon and Vyvx.

Louis Landon is vice president of MPH PR.

Design team

The Outdoor Channel
Gene Brookhart, vp of operations
Paul Weaver, executive dir of broadcast services
Tom Robinson, mgr of technical operations

Technical Innovations Broadcast
Solutions Group
Bill Amthor, sys design engineer
Brian Kincheloe, lead installation technician
Tim Sloan, vp of engineering and operations

Studio 440
Ross Brennan, architect
Douglas Gruninger, project mgr
George Newburn and Jacqueline McNaney, project team

Technology in action

ADC video and audio patch fields

Blonder Tongue in-house RF distribution system

Christie 70in DLP Projection Cubes

ClearCom intercom system

Crystal Computer monitor and control system

Ensemble Designs
Tri-level sync generators
HD test-set generator

Forecast broadcast consoles

Harris automation

Ikegami QC monitors

NEXIO 4200HDX HD with 11.7Tb RAID storage
NEXIO 4000TXS SD with 11.7Tb RAID storage
Integrator GOLD SDI and HD routers
NEO SuiteView monitor wall
X75 HD/SD converter synchronizer
Panacea switchers

Marshall program monitors

Middle Atlantic racks

MITEQ slope equalizers and upconverters

Panasonic DVCPRO recorders

Scientific Atlanta PowerVu network center

Snell & Wilcox HD upconverters

Sony DVCAM and HDCAM recorders

Tektronix waveform monitors

Wohler audio monitoring