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KESQ-TV automates with Telemetrics

Gulf California Broadcast audio and graphics operator Chris Jaunsen has easy access to the LCD touch-screen monitor displaying the available camera shots.

Technology changes in the production of local television news programs will never garner the public's attention like the departures of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather or the death of Peter Jennings. However, transformations going on behind the camera are creating a different kind of news.

At television facilities across the country, operations managers are streamlining their production procedures and developing new workflow strategies by automating traditional manual functions (i.e. camera operators, switching, recording) with robotic systems. The result is a local newscast produced and delivered in a superior, more consistent and less expensive fashion.

Improving the ability to go live

The cameras on the studio floor are mounted on Telemetrics PT-LP-S2 pan-and-tilt mechanisms on top of Telemetrics Televator elevating pedestals.

Gulf California Broadcast, which operates KESQ-TV, the ABC affiliate in Palm Springs, CA, as well as the local Fox (KDFX-TV) and Telemundo (KUNA-TV) stations, is a perfect example of this industry-wide trend toward newsroom automation. The broadcaster uses a Telemetrics camera robotic system in both the main control room and the news studio to produce six hours of news daily on its three broadcast stations.

The broadcaster turned to automation partly because of a lack of qualified part-time floor crew. Conventionally, television studios hire students from local colleges and universities as interns or part-time employees to fulfill staffing requirements, but there are no universities in Palm Springs or surrounding communities to support this practice.

Automation elements

Automation held another attractive feature: the flexibility to go on the air at a moment's notice without having to wait for a floor crew to assemble from geographically distant locations. The Telemetrics system installed at KESQ provides computer-controlled camera robotics that are ready to go on-air 24/7.

The unmanned camera is controlled by an operator in the control room using Telemetrics’ CPS-ST-S control software.

To automate its broadcast, the facility uses Telemetrics' Televator motorized elevating pedestals, PT-LP-S2 pan-and-tilt mechanisms, CPS-ST-S control software with an 18in LCD touch-screen monitor and a CP-D-3A camera control panel. The touch-screen monitor with the camera shots sits next to the audio operator. The camera control panel is next to the technical director, so he can touch-up shots if needed and resave them. There is no staff on the studio floor, and communication with the anchors is through IFB.

The three motorized, elevating pedestals provide fluid vertical camera positioning from different perspectives, while the pan-and-tilt mechanisms mounted on the pedestals further enhance camera positioning. The units also feature RS-232/422 control, preset/motion control and smooth slow- and high-speed movements with programmable timed presets.

With the software, the system operator can preset the key points of the trajectory as single shots (up to 16 at one time) and display live video on the monitor. The operator can track the movement of the system on the monitor and use a mouse, joystick or touch-screen monitor to select desired camera positions from the presets, resulting in more consistent camera shots and cleaner communication.

Todd Graham is operations manager for Gulf California Broadcast