In early 2005, WOSU-TV, the Columbus, OH-based PBS member station, came up with an ambitious plan to enhance its broadcast and production capabilities while also helping to educate the community about television production technology. The station signed an agreement with the Center for Science and Industry (COSI), a science center in downtown Columbus, to construct a digital, high-definition media facility within the 320,000sq-ft COSI building.

COSI is one of the most respected science centers in the nation, serving 18 million visitors since 1964. Each year about 500,000 visitors come to COSI to enjoy the exhibits, which strive to make science fun and interesting by engaging visitors with hands-on interactive displays.

If WOSU had wanted the typical model of operation for new television and radio studios, it could have done so anywhere in the community. The chance to partner with COSI and leverage its expertise in using science and technology for educational outreach and hands-on learning, as well as the suitability of the space itself and its location, offered a unique opportunity.

WOSU's idea was to construct a fully functioning television production center that would blend with the museum's mission and complement the station's main studio at the Fawcett Center, located on the Ohio State University campus several miles away.

Creating a cutting-edge production facility that would also be the focal point for a variety of public activities meant designing a visually appealing, compelling and accessible space. The additional challenge was doing all this on a PBS budget.

Enter active media

The resulting WOSU@COSI media center covers 12,000sq ft and includes a high-definition production control room, TV studio, HD edit systems with shared content, a combination U•TV exhibit area and studio space, and several media viewing areas.

The center serves as multimedia studios and community space (for civic engagements, forums, performances, events and meetings) and includes a media literacy lab for digital media and technology activities coproduced with COSI. Visitors can watch live productions and participate in a wide variety of workshops and interactive exhibits, bringing the excitement and energy of public television and radio broadcasting to residents of central Ohio.

The project has allowed all of station's media resources — AM, FM, TV and Web — to extended deeper into the heart of the downtown area. The project has opened up a variety of possibilities for developing partnerships to expand local programming and educational and outreach opportunities.

WOSU@COSI features complete digital functionality with studios, control rooms and production areas for television, radio and Internet technologies. An especially unique part of the facility is the system's multiplexed connection by a single fiber-optic link to WOSU's Fawcett Center headquarters, enabling simultaneous broadcasts, communications and control from both locations.

Exhibiting design

WOSU hired Communications Engineering (CEI) of Newington, VA, to handle the design, integration and equipment installation for the new center. Most of the new facility occupies space previously used as exhibit areas by COSI. Fortunately, radical changes to the building, such as relocating beams or pillars, were not necessary.

A key component of the new facility is the 2000sq-ft Battelle Studio, which is used for producing TV programming and airing live events. It features four Sony HD cameras, a Stanton Jimmy Jib, Vinten studio pedestals and QTV teleprompters. Microphones from Shure, Lectrosonics and Electro-Voice are also part of the studio equipment.

Watch and learn

The studio is separated from the adjacent U•TV exhibit area by a movable, six-panel wall with windows that allow visitors to watch programs as they are produced. The wall can be removed to open the space for special events. A second, smaller studio is planned for radio, audio and smaller video productions.

The U•TV exhibit, with views of all the main broadcast areas, allows visitors the opportunity to explore the art and science of television production through multilayered video that can be modified by using digital effects and the use of chroma and luminance keying. Visitors can bring up various moving backgrounds on a green screen and then step into the scene, which is monitored by overhead displays. A ceiling-mounted Sony projector provides additional entertaining video content for the exhibit area.

The sophisticated video control room, located next to the studio, also has a large window that offers visitors a view from the exhibit area. It features a large video wall comprised of three Barco SXGA 67in multi-input displays, a Sony video switcher and multiformat DVE, a Videotek rasterizer, a Chyron HD/SD single-channel character generator, and an Evertz MVP multidisplay monitoring system and processing equipment. The consoles for the project were provided by TBC Consoles.

The adjoining audio control room, which looks into the TV studio, includes a Euphonix Max Air digital audio broadcast production console, a 360 Systems DigitCart/E and a Comrex STAC6 multiline on-air call system. The camera shading room next door contains the Sony HDCU900 CCUs, three Telecast SMPTE hybrid elimination devices, two Sony VTRs and a Tektronix SD/HD waveform monitor. The facility was designed to accommodate three nonlinear edit suites with shared content storage.

The recently constructed second floor houses the administrative office and equipment core room, which has a large window that allows a prime view of the U•TV exhibit. From below, visitors can look up to see the racks of equipment that are processing and delivering content.

The equipment core room contains Evertz master sync and time generators, fiber transmission, multiplexing and modular terminal gear; Image Video tally processor and GPI interface; Grass Valley K2 and Turbo-1 video servers, audio, video and data routing switchers and an Encore control system; and a Cisco 144-port gigabit IT switch. A large conference room on the second floor also overlooks the U•TV area, providing an excellent view of the exhibit and studio space.

In addition, the system features numerous fiber drop points throughout the entire building. This enables live broadcasts from any exhibit area, in effect making it a 320,000sq-ft HD production studio.

Broadcast exhibit

WOSU has already hosted a steady stream of events at COSI, including a live broadcast of National Public Radio's “Talk of the Nation.” And the development of WOSU@COSI fits with an overall Ohio State University strategy to build strong outreach and engagement initiatives. The university's vision is to “set the standard for the creation and dissemination of knowledge and service to its communities, state, nation and the world.”

Tom Hackett is project manager for CEI.

Design team

Tom Rieland, general manager
Tom Lahr, chief engineer of television
David Carwile, director of planning and business initiatives, associate director
John Prosek, broadcast manager

Communications Engineering (CEI)
David Giblin, vice president and general manager
Tom Hackett, project manager
Victor Silva, installation supervisor

Burt Hill Architects

Technology at work

360 Systems DigiCart/E Ethernet audio recorder

ADC jackfields

Avocent AMX 5010 64 × 64 KVM matrix

Barco OverView displays

Chyron HyperX HD/SD single-channel CG

Cisco Catalyst 4506 144-port gigabit IT switch

Comrex STAC6 multiline on-air call system

Electro-Voice RE92L microphones

Euphonix Max Air digital audio mixing system

5600 master sync and time generators
7700 Series fiber transmission and mux
7700 and 500 Series modular terminal gear
MVP 40 input multi-display processor

Grass Valley
Concerto switchers
Encore control system
K2-HD-22 video server
Turbo-1 SD/HD pro-AV intelligent disk recorder

Image Video
4211 GPI interface
GSI-3 tally processor
Lectrosonics microphones

FDP-17P prompter package
WinCue teleprompter software

Shure microphones

HDC-930 HD cameras
MVE8000A multiformat DVE
MVS-8000ASF multiformat video switcher
VPLFX52 projector

Stanton Triangle Jimmy Jib

TBC Consoles consoles

Tektronix WFM700A SD/HD waveform monitor

Telecast SHED SMPTE hybrid elimination devices

Telex/RTS Cronus digital intercom

Videotek VTM-4100 rasterizer

Vinten Osprey Elite studio pedestals