New studio technology — network
AZCAR Design Team
FOX NE&O LA: Richard Friedel, exec. VP & GM; Jim Hopkins, sr. VP eng.; Hal Reynolds, VP broadcast projects (FOX PM)
FOX Sports Net Houston: Tim Sweeney VP and GM; Don Covington, VP eng.; Philip Reiners, chief eng.
AZCAR: John Jay, proj. mgr.; Michael Walter, lead eng.; Neil Sutton, installation supervisor; Hakim Kharbut, eng.; Mark Johnson, eng.; Guy McCombs, commissioning; Jaime Quintero, installation Technology at work
Chyron HyperX graphics Cisco IT switches
7700 series peripherals
EQX, Xenon and L-band routers
MVP and VIP multi- image display processors
QMC MCR switchers
NetVX video transport
Sony LCD displays
AZCAR builds all-new HD network center in Houston for FOX
FOX Networks Engineering & Operations (FOX NE&O) selected AZCAR to provide engineering design, installation and project management services for the construction of a new network center for FOX Sports cable networks in Houston, TX. The center serves as a program integration and uplink site for FOX Sports Net’s Regional Sports Networks, FOX College Sports Networks, The Big Ten Networks and FOX Sports Middle East Networks. It also serves as a disaster recovery facility for other FOX properties, replacing the Houston Technical Operations Center.
The facility is primarily a program integration facility taking feeds from the regional FSN centers, as well as directly from live sport venues. It comprises 32 HD master control rooms for single-channel production purposes, as well as four eight-stream and one six-stream multicast control room areas. During quiet times, the networks are controlled through these rooms with a single operator minding multiple streams. As a stream gets more active, including live event coordination, the stream is seamlessly reallocated to a single-channel room, where a dedicated operator can devote full attention to the individual stream. At the head of all this activity is a technical operations center, where operators monitor and coordinate the incoming and outgoing signals, and a network monitoring center, where operators monitor and control the remote distribution network. The system includes a large number of uplink and downlink satellite transmission systems, as well as terrestrial fiber and data transmission systems.
The system is centered on three large core routers (Evertz EQX), each framed for 576 x 576. The facility uses Evertz QMC master control switchers driven from 10 Xenon 128 x 128 routers. Evertz modular equipment was used extensively; the facility has 328 7700-series frames, as well as VIP and MVP multiscreen drivers for the monitor walls. The server system uses the Harris NEXIO server. A total of 41 I/O chassis are connected to four 12TB SANs. A nearline storage NAS provides a further 60TB of storage.
The IT network infrastructure was key to the successful operation of this facility; there are more Ethernet ports on more than 108 edge switches connected through enterprise class Cisco core switches than there are HD-SDI ports on the routers.
The project ran for a little more than two years and was finally handed over to FOX in June 2008. As a key component of this project award, AZCAR was asked to help FOX NE&O develop new CAD Drawing Standards intended for use throughout FOX Television Engineering. These new drawing standards and tools enabled the standardization of drawing styles amongst FOX entities.