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U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives

The mission of the House Recording Studio (HRS) is to provide the United States House of Representatives with the means to conveniently convey information to its constituents, the media and the general public. It offers radio, television, teleconferencing and tape duplication, serving a campus-like environment with centralized Capitol Hill facilities located in the Rayburn House Office Building (HOB) and the Capitol Visitors Center (CVC).

With a spike in social networking and the demand for HD, the increased responsibilities of the HRS warranted the design and build out of a new studio and two committee control rooms. The HRS contracted with Ascent Media, whose engineers factored the existing environment and its ongoing maintenance needs to recommend equipment and update designs. Recommendations were made based on the familiarity and experience of the HRS staff with their current equipment and inside knowledge of equipment and workflows.

The challenges were plentiful and included:

• retrofitting new designs to remain compatible with the old;

• combating significant space limitations in the design process;

• accessing separate, secure areas more than a 1/2mi apart with individual checkpoints;

• transparently implementing the project without interruption to House
operations; and

• meeting a 90-day deliverable.

Without notice, the House can stay in session around the clock, making it necessary to perform the bulk of the installation during summer recess. In addition, the new studio and control rooms were the first facilities of their type in the CVC. Communicating with the existing infrastructure in the Rayburn HOB wasn’t seamless. Using fiber tie lines between the routers and fiber conversion gear, the Ascent team achieved the successful transmission of all audio, video and control signals between facilities. Linking the new control panels to the various committee room cameras was of particular difficulty. The HRS produces content from approximately 30 committee rooms around Capitol Hill, each of which may contain four to five cameras apiece. There are 14 control rooms that, via an overlay to the routing infrastructure, can be routed to control any of the 30 committee rooms.

With space at a premium, the project was limited to ~270 sq. ft. of studio space and ~56 sq. ft. per control room, presenting available surface area concerns. The new HRS HD studio in the CVC is a smaller version of two studios currently in operation in the Rayburn HOB. Using the existing cameras, video switcher and audio platforms, Ascent constructed a compact studio solution with increased functionality to better accommodate the current workflow and anticipated increase in projects. The control room size limits the operation to a one-to-two-person operation as console space is at a premium.

This project produced a compact, two-camera HD studio and related control room as well as two updated committee control rooms.

  • New studio technology — HD
    Submitted by Ascent Media Systems IntegrationDesign teamAscent Media: Scott Schmitt, design eng.; Richard Moore, network design; Michael Williams, design eng.; Patrick Jordan, proj. leader; Paul Ohodnicki, proj. mgr.Technology at workHRS HD studio: 1M/E HD production switcher, audio console, digital intercom matrix, HD cameras, HD CG, HD VTR, monitor wall, multiformat terminal gear, multiformat video router HRS committee control rooms: CG, multidisplay processor, production switcher, PTZ camera control panel, terminal gear

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