Excellence Awards VCI WCIU

Category Station automation Submitted by VCI Design team

WCIU-TV: Kyle Walker, dir. of eng.; Charlie Fisher, asst. chief eng.; Tony Fraveletti, Shawn Zhang, Bernie Hoelting, Dak Wudyka
VCI: James Brown, division mgr. automation;
John Buszinski,
professional sales,
service and support;
Richard Rominger, sr.
quality eng.

Technology at work Avid
DekoCast SD/HD
Bittree audio patch
Harmonic MV-45 and
MV-450 encoders
NEXIO video server
6800+ modular platform
NEO modular platform
X75 converter/sync
LG 50in plasmas
Marshall LCD monitors
Miranda Alto HD
Pathfire Server Connect
Pro-Bel routing and
Switchcraft video and
data panels
Telestream traffic
VCI Xe automation

WCIU-TV increases station productivity with automation upgrade

Chicago independent station WCIUTV operates six broadcast channels. Syndicated programs are a major part of the station’s schedule. On a typical day, dubbing and prepping of Pathfire syndicated program content can take about 16 hours. On high-volume days, up to 50 programs need dubbing, requiring even more resources and time. To keep up with six channels, WCIU has multiple media preparation workstations — 70 devices that have to be controlled.

WCIU was looking for a solution to eliminate the need for human intervention so that Pathfire’s syndicated program content could be sent seamlessly to the video server and the metadata to VCI’s Xe automation platform. The station also sought an efficient way to control and manage workstations in a compact and scalable manner.

The station found solutions to both issues with VCI automation technology. WCIU addressed the issues of human intervention with the Pathfire system with Xe’s Intelligent Transfer Technology. This advanced architecture and database allows the Xe system to direct the file-based workflows in today’s digital operations. Xe manages and tracks content across the operation. It controls the devices to store and move content. The system moves content where it needs to go, when it needs to be there to provision the workflow requests, including on-air channels or streams, with little or no human intervention. It moves Pathfire programs or channels rear-line, archived content to the on-air transmission chain to fulfill scheduled playout. It automatically moves expired content to the nearline archives or deletes expired content. The engineering staff can now focus on areas that require engineering intervention, such as satellite downloading and quality control rather than spending time on repetitive tasks.

The Xe system also brought new efficiencies and savings from reduced video tape usage and wear and tear.

To address the device control and resource management needs, WCIU used the VCI eXtensibile Device Server (XDS), a reliable IBM server with dual power supplies and system drives. A dual XDS server and three 32-port device master units use standard Cat 5 cable to communicate and connect to all 70 devices. All devices can be shared and available in a pool. They are locked when in use. The system has flexible resource management in that priorities can be set and adapted for each individual device.

The functionality of the Xe system allows WCIU to be proactive, rather than reactive. Now the station operates more efficiently and reduces the errors made as a result of manual data input.