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Dallas City Hall Building

Dallas City Hall Building

Smoke and mirrors aren’t responsible for the crystal-clear sets viewers are admiring on footage streaming from the City of Dallas’ new broadcast studio. Rather, it’s the efficient three-camera 3-D virtual TV production studio tucked snugly into the basement of the City Hall building in Dallas. This project was funded in its entirety by a cable TV fund to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure of the cable system. No public or taxpayer dollars were used.

Burst, a Denver-based systems integrator, built the virtual studio, which affords the city with HD production and post-production capability in addition to a studio environment where the computer-generated sets can appear to be anywhere — a sunny beach or the state capital — and where the perspective of the background can shift depending on camera angles. The city needed the studio to record the mayor’s statements in a controlled environment, and all programming that involves the mayor’s office is produced there. The goals of the facility were to provide maximum versatility in the minimal space available and to design a studio that could be run by a single operator. The city can broadcast on its own in-house channel and record city council meetings. The facility also serves as a central area for post production and editing.

This turnkey facility was built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of the City of Dallas. Space was the biggest issue; there wasn’t enough room to accommodate a large set area, so Burst built a virtual 3-D set to create a larger look. The City of Dallas also required a studio that could be operated efficiently by a small staff. With robotically controlled cameras mounted on pan-and-tilt heads, a single operator can produce a complete program.

The facility is shoehorned into a small space, about 1100sq-ft in all, that includes a 630sq-ft studio, a makeup room, an edit room with two editing stations, a control room and a green room. It has low ceilings adjacent to a server room that periodically generates audible alarms. In addition to the noise from the alarms, the HVAC system posed a challenge. It had to deliver enough cool air to keep the equipment and the studio at the right temperature without making too much air flow noise. To compensate for the noise issues, a whisper room was built into the studio to provide a space isolated from noise.

Featured prominently in the system are a virtual set system by Orad, video switching by Ross Video, multi-image viewing and terminal equipment from Harris, post production from Avid, and intercom equipment from Clear-Com. Also part of the system are frame synchronizers from AJA and video scalers from TV One, with video, audio, and control patching from ADC and Audio Accessories. The Orad virtual studio package enables city officials to appear to the audience as though they are wherever the background says they are. Rather than having to schedule remote shoots to capture the necessary ambience, shooting is done in the studio, which creates significant time savings and efficiencies. Through the scalers and frame synchronizers, post-production facilities and the ability to create virtual sets, it is possible to create environments and deliver effective messages in ways previously not possible.

  • New studio technology – nonbroadcast
    Submitted by BurstDesign teamBurst: Don Rooney, VP of eng.; Tom Norman, sr. eng.; Dave Stengel, sr. proj. mgr.; Marc Brooks, site supervisor; Sean Clark, wireman; Tom Smith, sales exec.; Debbie Goldin, office mgr.
    City of Dallas: Bennie Wilcox, IT mgr.; Tommy Reyna, sr. producer; David Zepeda, production technicianTechnology at workADC: PPE2232-MVJT-BK video patch bay
    AJA: FS1 frame synchronizers
    Audio Accessories: WEP-962-SH audio patch bay
    Bittree: B422-F16S/6 RS-422 patch bay
    Clear-Com: KB-702 intercom station, MA-4 IFB control panel, PIC-4704 IFB central electronics, RM-702 intercom station, RS-601 intercom beltpack station
    Harris: 6800+ series terminal equipment, SG-410 sync test generator, ZP2-HD16 multiviewer
    Hitachi: HV-HD30 HD cameras
    Mackie: 1604VLZ audio mixer
    Orad: Morpho CG/graphics package, SmartSet 3-D virtual set system
    Ross Video: Synergy 100MD production switcher
    TV One: C2-2355A video scalers

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