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BATV executive director out to change perception of public access TV

Peter Zawadzki, executive director of Brookline Access Television (BATV), a nonprofit organization operating two public access channels in Brookline, MA, is on a mission to change the perception of public access TV.

Between the two channels, BATV provides a wide range of programming, including documentaries, studio-based talk shows and coverage of local government meetings.

“Public access is a valuable asset to the community and an important First Amendment resource,” he said. Earlier this year, BATV installed two Broadcast Pix Slate 5000 live production systems in its new 10,000sq-ft production facility. “We like to think our new facility is one of the most technologically advanced community multimedia centers in the country,” Zawadzki said.

A significant upgrade from BATV’s previous home, a 2000 sq-ft temporary facility with four edit stations, the new space features two HD studios with Sony PMW-EX3 cameras and Kino Flo lighting instruments. Two identical HD control rooms are anchored by the Slate 5000 systems and Yamaha 01V96 digital audio mixers, which are controlled through the Slates. Each studio includes a robotic camera that can be controlled through the Slates as well.

The two control rooms are interconnected, so if BATV has an extremely large production that requires the use of both studios, one control room can handle the production. The control rooms are also wired to control robotic cameras in the auditorium of nearby Brookline High School, which houses the meetings for the town’s legislative arm of government.

BATV takes full advantage of Slate’s Fluent workflow tools, including the built-in Inscriber CG and clip and graphics stores. Several shows use virtual backgrounds, so Slate’s built-in chromakey also gets regular use. “For these shows, we often use Fluent Macros to create presets that automatically change the virtual set to correspond with the different cameras,” Zawadzki said. “In some situations, we can almost direct an entire program just using macros.”

Instead of a monitor wall, Fluent Multi-View feeds input sources to one 52in Sony LCD monitor in each control room. Fluent Watch-Folders, which allow content to be sent over a TCP/IP network from edit stations to the Slate for immediate access, also are used.

In an effort to avoid control rooms that look like a hodgepodge of equipment racks, the new Slate 5000 control panels are recessed into custom consoles manufactured by TBC Consoles.

BATV supports 45 Apple Final Cut Pro edit stations, including 16 in both of its computer learning labs, all of which are connected to a 40TB EditShare shared-storage server system.

Although its stations are broadcast in SD by the local Comcast and RCN cable systems, BATV produces its programming in HD and letterboxes its programming for air. With its Broadcast Pix systems in place, BATV is prepared if an HD opportunity becomes available on either systems. BATV will launch HD video on its website later this year, Zawadzki added.

Beyond its new facility, BATV also maintains a Broadcast Pix Slate 3000 system at Brookline Town Hall for its coverage of meetings.