GlobeCast's international broadcast and origination facilities

As the broadcast services subsidiary of telecommunications giant France Telecom, GlobeCast is an operator of satellite transmission and production services for professional broadcast, enterprise and Internet content delivery. The company supports every aspect of program content delivery via satellite, including direct-to-home distribution, cable headend delivery, contribution, terrestrial TV and radio delivery, business television, satellite newsgathering, sports backhaul, audio distribution, Internet backbone, satellite VPN overlay, satellite-to-desktop streaming, and Webcasting.

While satellite platforms are Globecast's hallmark, the company also offers signature services such as studio production, language conversion and program origination on the ground. In a strategic move to expand its value-added offerings in North America, in 1998 GlobeCast acquired South Florida satellite and production services company Hero Productions, giving it an instant satellite gateway to Latin America and a full-service studio production company with extensive program origination capabilities.

With the integration of Hero Productions' studio and master control capabilities within its worldwide operations, in 1999 GlobeCast announced a five-year, multimillion dollar investment to expand its program origination facilities and to upgrade its broadcast infrastructure across North America.

In Miami, $18 million was invested to expand the South Florida broadcast complex from 85,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet, encompassing 8.5 acres of land with expanded master control facilities and the new GlobeCast Studios, a television and film production center with 28,800 square feet of soundstages, currently housing original television productions for Univision. In Los Angeles, the company's West Coast teleport and central booking center — acquired through a 1994 acquisition of Keystone Communications by France Telecom — was given a much-needed $7.5 million upgrade, including a new 6000-square-foot all-digital program origination and transmission center.

To meet the ever-increasing launch of new channels — particularly to Latin America — GlobeCast's digital broadcast centers in Miami and Los Angeles were tailored to offer global satellite transmission and extensive program origination capabilities, including fully automated insertion and playout, tape library, 24-hour monitoring, live-to-air program insertion, and in-house studios for original live programming.

Key to GlobeCast's success is its build-to-measure approach. With more than 10 years of experience, GlobeCast's engineering and operations professionals provide complete system design and integration in-house allowing for quick turn up of services and eliminating the role of costly external consultants. GlobeCast's Miami and Los Angeles broadcast centers can support multiple master control operations and can be custom configured to accommodate office space and studio facilities according to customer demand. Services can be launched quickly in as little as four weeks depending on customer requirements.

A tour of the East Coast digital origination center in Miami reveals a broadcast operations center, configured with multichannel master control capabilities, over 38,000 square feet of soundstages, four digital studio control rooms, multiple Avid edit suites and graphic stations, as well as a tape library and expandable office space, which GlobeCast will build to accommodate network personnel of over 100 people. For instance, MGM Latin America has their operations base in GlobeCast with over 1000 square feet of office space to accommodate over 20 staff members.

GlobeCast's facilities are fully redundant and designed for ease of operation and reliability, while keeping network interface and traffic systems in mind. GlobeCast also provides IT design and support to establish internal office connectivity, telephone systems and network operability.

The central equipment room (CER), a 20 × 20 foot space immediately adjacent to one of three master control centers, houses the routing equipment, master control switching equipment, audio and video distribution amplifiers, all of the production switcher frames, digital video effects generators and the video servers. The CER features a Philips Venus 2201 modular universal router consisting of two frames (one frame being a 64×64 SDI video router and the other a 64×64 two-channel AES audio router). The router enables GlobeCast to distribute content to various points throughout the facility. The 400-square-foot CER serves as the backbone for signal routing. Having the central equipment room close to the master control centers is key to keeping cable runs to a minimum, which can still easily surpass 25 miles of 1505A coaxial cable for a four- to six-channel network originating from the ground up.

Also in the CER are the servers for production equipment used throughout the various control rooms and studios, including a Grass Valley Kalypso, a Grass Valley Gveous digital video effects generator, three Quantel PictureBox 2 still stores, a Pinnacle DVExtreme effects generator, one Grass Valley 3000 digital video switcher, one Sony DME-7000 digital multi-effects generator and two Chyron Max! character generators, all interconnected via the router network.

The entire plant is designed to accommodate the master control rooms — the heart of on-air playback. GlobeCast operates three master control rooms for various networks covering more than 5000 square feet and housing all the necessary equipment to maintain virtually an unlimited number of operating channels on-air 24 hours a day. Equipment includes Ikegami TM20-20R color video monitors, Ikegami TM10-17RA color video monitors, Tektronix 764 digital audio monitors, 360 Systems DigiCart II digital audio recorders, an assortment of digital and analog tape machines, RTS panels for ADAM Systems, Leitch MGI-1302 logo generators and inserters as well as Louth/Harris Automation Air Clients to run on air logs. Four Philips Saturn master control switcher panels merge all of the production elements for live-to-air integration. While a major portion of program playout is able to originate from the various servers, DigiBeta players are also available in the master control areas for redundancy. In the case of Telefutura, which originates a separate feed to three U.S. time zones, GlobeCast incorporated four Sony Flexicarts for automated operation of the East Coast feed. The East Coast feed is stored in GVG Profile XP video delay servers for delayed distribution to the central United States and the West Coast.

Because many of the networks originating in Miami are targeting both North and Latin America, the master control facilities are designed to handle multiple program feeds in multiple languages. Broadcasters targeting Latin America will often distribute feeds in Portuguese for Brazil, and Spanish for the rest of the continent. The Spanish feeds are often further divided into regional feeds to accommodate specific countries by national dialect or time delay — for example, to Argentina, Mexico and the United States — plus a generic Spanish feed to cover the rest of the countries.

Because GlobeCast's facilities are also large international teleports, their master control centers offer customers complete satellite delivery for both distribution and content contribution. Customers can receive incoming feeds of news, sports and events from anywhere in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. GlobeCast's video control center (VCC) supports both digital and analog signals, and all major encryption systems, as well as NTSC, PAL and SECAM conversion.

The VCC connects to the CER through a six-lane highway supported by six Leitch DFS-3005 transcoders. Each transcoder synchronizes the video to house reference and converts analog video to SDI while embedding up to four channels of analog audio. A Snell & Wilcox Alchemist motion-compensated standards converter is employed to accommodate fast motion digital content. Grass Valley Group PVS1000 video servers and Tektronix PDR200 video servers provide content storage and playout of incoming feeds.

For original programming such as cooking shows, talk shows, news and sports magazines, advertising, and other feature content, GlobeCast offers the added benefit of in-house studio production. In Miami, GlobeCast has more than 38,800 square feet of studios, including 28,800 square feet of combinable soundstages in the GlobeCast Studios production center and an additional two studios in the digital broadcast center, totaling 10,000 square feet adjacent to the master control rooms. All of GlobeCast's studios are routed through the router network to facilitate the sharing of media with the MCC.

A combination of Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi cameras are available for production in the various studios. The video shading area is home to all of the camera control units and robotics remote control. Full monitoring and RTS communications facilitate operation with GlobeCast's four studio control rooms. Each studio is wired to its own individual all-digital control room. The control rooms house a Grass Valley Kalypso 2M/E control panel with video production center, a Chyron Max! character generator for titling, a Quantel PictureBox 2 for still stores and a Grass Valley Gveous effects generator. A video wall composed of Sony PVM-8045Q color video monitors and Sony PVM-97 black-and-white video monitors facilitates monitoring of studio cameras.

Each studio control room is provisioned with its own audio control room with RTS TIF951 telephone interfaces to connect the producers in the control room with others on location, as well as a 360 Systems Shortcut personal audio editor, a Panasonic SV-4100 DAT recorder and an RTS advanced digital audio matrix. The studios are designed for stand-alone operations, but are interconnected via the network to share the resources and tools of the entire facility.

The 200-square-foot graphics and post-production area also share in the communications between all components. The graphics area includes a tape routing system to import and export digital material. Two tie lines between the graphics 16×16 Leitch Xplus digital router and the main Philips Venus 64×64 digital router in the CER allow material to be easily exchanged throughout the facility. Six individual suites are equipped with Avid nonlinear editing systems, and a seventh larger suite is powered by a Quantel Paintbox for high-end graphics work. These rooms share over one terabyte of storage capacity via a unity server and are stocked basically in the same manner containing one Leitch 16 × 16 router control panel, one Tektronix WFM-601A for waveform and vector monitoring, and an Ikegami TM20-20R color video monitor.

A separate room houses videotape machines, video shading and two slo-mo suites. The tape area features multiple Sony DVW-A500 DigiBeta recorders, with machines dedicated to each studio control room. All machines are interconnected across the network for access from any location via the router.

Media companies can quickly turn up a new channel — in as little as four weeks — by outsourcing the technical operations to an experienced program origination partner such as GlobeCast. Outsourcing enables new channels to concentrate on programming and marketing, while engineers take care of hardware and daily operations.

Design team

Charles C. Trice Jr., senior vice president of engineering
Fernando Linares, director, engineering, Southeast Region
Alex Novoa, director, broadcast operations, Southeast Region

Equipment list

Philips Venus 2201 router
Grass Valley Kalypso
Grass Valley Gveous DVE generator
Quantel PictureBox 2 still stores
Pinnacle DVExtreme effects generator
Grass Valley 3000 digital video switchers
Sony DME-7000 digital multi effects generator
Chyron Max! character generators
Ikegami TM20-20R color video monitors
Ikegami TM10-17RA color video monitors
Tektronix 764 digital audio monitors
360 Systems DigiCart II digital audio recorders
Leitch MGI-1302 logo generators and inserters
Louth/Harris Automation Air Clients
Philips Saturn MC switchers
Sony Flexicarts
Grass Valley Group Profile XP video delay servers
Leitch DFS-3005 transcoders
Snell & Wilcox Alchemist motion-compensated standards converter
Grass Valley Group PVS1000 video servers
Tektronix PDR200 video servers
Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi cameras
Grass Valley Kalypso 2M/E control panel
Sony PVM-8045Q color video monitors
Sony PVM-97 black-and-white monitors
360 Systems Shortcut audio editors
Panasonic SV-4100 DAT recorders
RTS digital audio matrix
Leitch Xplus digital routers
Avid nonlinear editing systems
Quantel Paintbox
Philips Venus digital router
Leitch router control panels
Sony DVW-A500 DigiBeta recorders