Court TV's network operations center

With a surge in viewership to nearly 80 million, an aging infrastructure and equipment on the verge of obsolescence, the management at Court TV launched plans for a new 3200-square-foot digital network operations center on the 20th floor of the same Manhattan building it has occupied since 1991.

The facility upgrade addressed both physical and technical aspects, with a server-based, highly redundant environment at the top of the network's list of requirements. The technical core of the new design would be a centralized machine room supporting the multichannel master control room and digital asset management. Goals included improved content movement and workflow through a digital asset management system, as well as increased consistency and reliability through more technology with less human intervention. A. F. Associates, an Ascent Media company, was brought in for design guidance and overall systems implementation.

A fully redundant automation system was a necessity, and Sundance Digital's FastBreak Automation was selected to drive three Thomson Grass Valley Profile XP video servers: two PVS 1026s for play to air, and one PVS 1044 for ingesting the content. The system also is integrated with a Concadia Solutions digital asset management system and AVALONidm data storage management software controlling an ADIC Scalar 10K robotic archive and 4TB of disk cache.

FastBreak automation includes a main Air Station plus a ListSync backup station for both the East Coast and the West Coast feed. ListSync adds a level of real-time system redundancy that automatically updates the backup playlist for a seamless transfer of control. Playlist changes are reflected on both stations without manual intervention.

Sundance issues archive requests through EMC's AVALONidm software to manage files on the disk cache and the ADIC library. Through the AVALONidm policy engine, content files not accessed after a user-defined time period are automatically deleted from the disk cache system, while all files are saved on data tape for long-term backup. This keeps the disk cache system free for new and/or more frequently used media.

Court TV also imposed discrete master control switching for the East and West Coasts. Two Thomson Grass Valley M2100s with Evertz X1202Ss for backup switching were installed. Graphic elements are achieved via two Chyron Duet LEX character generators with clip player options. Orban Optimod 6200s handle the audio processing.

An expandable Thomson Grass Valley Trinix DV 33-256 router with an Encore control system was installed to accommodate current needs and anticipate potential requirements. Three 67-inch Barco Janus projection screens, stitched together appear as one large screen and serve as the commanding centerpiece of Court TV's master control room. Up to 90 images of any size can be shown simultaneously, and any source can display tallies, alarms and audio metering. Forecast Consoles provided all of the furniture in master control.

Design Team

Court TV
Joe Schwinghammer, VP-eng.

A. F. Associates
Tom Michales, pro. mgr.
John Ciulla, sr. design eng.
Brian Luscombe, design eng.
Mario Patuto, automation specialist

Sundance Digital
Robert C. Johnson, president
Eric Harrington, dir. eng.
Sean Pendleton, programmer
Rick Stora, dir. broadcast ops.

EMC Avalon
Jeffrey Esposito, mgr./proj. architect
Deborah Farmer, proj. mgr.
Avalon Customer Services Group

Concadia Solutions
Patrick Turner, sr. systems architect

Equipment List

Thomson Grass Valley
Profile XP servers
M2100 MC switcher
Trinix DV 33-256 router

Sundance Digital
FastBreak Automation
List Sync
Sundance Archive Manager

DNF 3040 controller

EMC AVALONidm software

Sun Microsystems V880 server

LSI Logic disk cache

ADIC Scalar 10K robotic archive

Sony AIT-3 tape drives

Telestream Flip Factory

Canto Cumulus

BARCO Hydra/Janus projection

MAX! graphics system

Leitch Logomotion

Motorola DigiCipher II platform

AFA equipment racks