Excellence Awards Sundance WECB

Category Network automation Submitted by Sundance Digital Design teamWECB-TV: Jim Blaubach, op. mgr.; Mike Norton, sr. maintenance eng.;Phil Mikalofsky, sr. maint. eng.; Fred Sperry,
transmission control
coord.; Don Hugill, sr. eng.; Vicki Kipp, sr. eng.; Bonnie Briggs, TV
continuity mgr.; Pete Ives, technical services mgr.; Jim Klas, dir. of media tech.
Sundance Digital: Robert C. Johnson, president;
Eric Harrington, dir. eng.
and customer service;
Kurt Caruthers, dir. of sales, central region and
Roscor: Rick Craig, project eng.; Chad Thielen, project eng. Technology at work Grass Valley routing
Harris/Leitch 3900 Series conversion equipment
Masstech archive
Omneon video server
LCD displays
Sundance Digital
Titan automation
Wohler audio monitoring

WECB-TV's central multicast facility shrinks in size but grows in power

Smaller is better these days at WECBTV in Madison, WI. On Feb. 23, 2006, WECB’s new system broadcast eight channels of educational programming throughout Wisconsin and the Duluth, MN, market. Automation was the linchpin of an innovative strategic plan.

Consider WECB’s situation: It serves as the central master control facility to playout SD and HD for the statewide PBS network comprised of WHA-TV in Madison, WHWC-TV in Menomonie, WPNE –TV in Green Bay, WHRM-TV in Wausau, WLEF-TV in Park Falls and WHLA-TV in Lacrosse. In addition, WECB feeds educational programming to WMVS/WMVT-TV in Milwaukee and to WDSE-TV in Duluth, MN.

To make a seamless transition from an outdated system to a new and more powerful one required some out-of-the-box thinking. WECB designed and built a new broadcast operations center. In the process, the broadcaster scrapped its old facility, 8000sq-ft with multiple control rooms and gear that was either outdated or soon to be.

WECB’s new operations center is a modern, streamlined 5000sq-ft facility with a single unifi ed master control room. It also houses a compact Bassett tape library system, a new Omneon video server and a Masstech archive system, all under the command and control umbrella of Sundance Digital’s Titan, a multichannel, server-based automation system designed for geographically distributed central casting. Titan is integrated with IntelliSat, Sundance Digital’s satellite feed recording and management system, as well as Sundance Archive Manager (SAM) to coordinate online and nearline media storage. Today, approximately 15 people operate and maintain an automated 24/7 multicasting operation that is smoothly integrated with the other sub-systems within the facility.

Titan automation provided WECB exactly what it needed to smoothly make its dramatic transition, the ability to update information either within the ingest application or via its ProTrack traffi c system, and to keep the two critical databases synchronized. Because Titan employs a distributed processing and SQL database architecture, WECB got the resiliency it needed without a single point of failure in the system. Titan has brought much better integration of the traffi c process, improved overall workfl ow and given WECB the ability to program more channels without increasing staff size. Most importantly, Titan has reduced discrepancies and signifi cantly improved onair quality.

Smaller is defi nitely better and even more powerful than ever. The Wisconsin Educational Communications Board is newly equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.