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Designing Next-Generation Master Control

SBE, PBS team up on annual Ennes Workshop at NAB


For many years, PBS has sponsored a technology conference in Las Vegas just prior to the NAB convention. At the same time, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), has supported the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust in providing a daylong workshop on the Saturday that kicks off the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC). Problem was, attendees couldn't be in two places at once. This year, PBS and SBE have come together to sponsor the Ennes Workshop, which will constitute the third and concluding day of PBS's annual Technology Conference.

The Ennes Educational Foundation Trust is a nonprofit, charitable organization with SBE. Backed by individuals, chapters, manufacturers and broadcast groups, the trust provides scholarships and educational programs to the broadcast engineering community, and on occasion, the mechanism to collect and distribute funds for special causes such as a fund for the families of the engineers lost in the World Trade Center disaster. Harold Ennes wrote the first set of now classic books for training broadcast engineers, and upon his passing, first at the Indianapolis chapter of SBE, and then at the national SBE took on the task of supporting education in his name.


The Ennes Workshop at NAB is the single largest event that the Ennes Trust sponsors and is designed to be an intensive tutorial. The speakers are overwhelmingly engineers and the topic is always a reflection of the subject material most needed by front-line engineers as well as directors and vice presidents of engineering.

This year's program, held April 16 in Room 110 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will cover building the next-generation master control for radio and TV. The day begins with opening remarks at 9:00 a.m., followed by the first session in which Bob Kovacs, TV Technology's technology editor, will discuss the basics of design and future-proofing.

Another morning session will deal with the tools and rules of thumb needed to calculate real-world facility availability. The problems of scheduling outages or contemplating the effects of various architectures on reliability will be addressed. Five nines, Six-Sigma, and MTBF might take a back seat to Ohm's law in broadcast engineering, but everything from the subtleties of power supply redundancy to the number of shelf spares has a predictable effect on the stability of a broadcast facility.

Options for master control include the PBS ACE project, where you'll get a look "under the hood" and lessons learned from one of the first installations at Iowa Public Television (IPTV). Bill Hayes, director of engineering for IPTV and writer of TV Technology's monthly "Digital Journal" column will provide details on the project. Other topics will include surround sound for both radio and TV in the master control room, which will be covered by Omnia Audio founder and President Frank Foti.

Will data networks replace crosspoint routers? Neil Maycock, Pro-Bel's chief technology officer says it's not "if" but "when," and broadcasters are already in the midst of the transition. Clear Channel Senior Vice President of Technical and Capital Management Steve Davis, CSRE, will discuss the company's well-tuned process and tricks of the trade.

Branding has gone from novelty to a mainstream master control function. Leitch's Steve Sulte, manager of command and control systems applications, will cover advances in GPUs (general-purpose graphics processing units) and how these affect the core design and workflow of TV master control rooms.

Fundamental trends in the digital video broadcast domain drive the business toward a compressed IP environment. Terayon's Michael Adams, vice president of video architecture and technology, will explain how a transition to this environment will result in simple, open standards and inexpensive, scalable, future-proof solutions for the broadcast industry.

And what of SCTE 35/30 and its implications for multichannel spot insertion? Paul Woidke, vice president of technology for Comcast Spotlight, will discuss the nuances of everything from stream splice marking and audio and data insertion and substitution under this standard that is fast finding its way into broadcast facilities.

Luke Freeman, senior staff member for solutions development at SignaSys Inc., and Bill Van Bloom, director of technology for AF Associates/Ascent Media Systems and Technology Services, will address construction and design of master control rooms from the perspective of systems integrators.

The Ennes Workshop requires a full NAB convention registration. SBE members receive a significant discount by registering at the NAB Partner rate--a $300 discount off the NAB nonmember rate.