KVAL-TV phased in centralized programming with its first Media Pool multi-channel video server in 1995. By 2000, it was feeding five zones covering most of western Oregon from one control room. Much of the programming is identical, but the zones break away for local news, sports and other programs. All station breaks are fed from the central location’s video server. In addition, hourly five-minute news cut-ins on a cable news channel are also scheduled using the video server, as well as a time-shift with different commercial content for the evening news on a different channel. As its old server neared retirement, the station considered modern automation solutions. With a high volume of daily local spots and live programming, and a commitment to serving advertisers promptly with last-minute traffic changes, the station opted to remain a mostly hands-on operation, and automate only those areas where it would deliver a significant advantage.
The station approached MicroFirst for operator-assist functions for a new Omneon server. The station needed to be able to start playing each server source instantly from independent GPIs, as well as rescue from GPI in case of a false start. Other needs included end-of-station-break GPI outputs, the ability to place comment text in a playlist and an automatic refresh of durations and titles if clips were replaced.
Because the manual control room “take” switch is the break cue (with no preroll), there was concern about avoiding dead air while waiting for the server to respond. Automation typically starts events at the top of the second; but the station wanted to start immediately from the cue and have tight back-to-back play. The system offers an immediate-start feature to keep the station looking clean on-air, even through tight network breaks and cut-ins. Several of its features helped to improve workflow, especially the ability to import/export current air schedules directly from/to plain text files, and the ability to filter imported schedules to a specific time.
When coping with a late-running sporting event or special, it’s easy to delete individual spots, drag and drop individual commercials or entire breaks for make-goods, and skip forward in the schedule to any point. The interface can display up to four schedules tiled vertically. In edit mode, an edit panel occupies the lower part of the screen. The user interface was easy to learn because of its Windows-like drag-and-drop functionality.
The media editor program displays the server’s database with faster and easier-to-use sort-and-filter options than the station’s old system. The station also can export the database to a text file to share on the intranet with remote traffic and sales departments. It takes only a few clicks to copy a clip, and users can trim clips easily by clicking “trim clip” to load a clip in the dub/ trim window. Also, with multiple stations and departments responsible for managing server inventory, building, importing and executing a single daily clip-deletion list saves the staff from one-at-a-time deletions.
After dealing with huge numbers of playlist changes during the last election season, the station knew it had to streamline that process. The operator now simply uses the time-filter function to import the changes directly into the on-air schedule. This lets the staff respond to advertiser’s needs with error-free control. We found that additional channels, devices and workstations may be added without altering the original system design. The digital automation system is capable of recording or airing multiple simultaneous program services.
Jim Bowen, VP of eng.
Dan Stoe, chief eng.
Steve Nordby, software projects coordinator
John Beneat, EVP/CTO
Rick Sonderfran, lead software programmer
Jerry Berger, VP/GM
George Teplansky, sales support specialist
MicroFirst DAS GPI 16x16
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