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WSKG_TV's traffic department successfully monitors master control

Station automation

WSKG-TV‘s traffic department successfully monitors master control

WSKG-TV is the public television station serving the Binghamton/Vestal, NY market. In order to continue delivering high-quality education services and programming, the facility pursued a digital transition. Several goals were in mind when beginning this project: • create a digital infrastructure to support several program streams, as well as the eventual distribution of HD programming content • create greater operational/staffing efficiencies • create a digital archive to preserve our locally produced programming.

SignaSys was selected as the systems integrator on this project. The core system installed is a Crispin System 2000 automation system controlling an Omneon server and NVISION MC and routing switchers.

The new automation system gives the facility the flexibility needed to run multiple playlists in SD and can be dynamically reconfigured to run an HD playlist. A major feature of the System 2000 is Supervisory View, which provides a high-level view of automation functions.

Because WSKFG is a small-market television station, operational efficiencies and staffing flexibility are a must for survival. There are now several hours each day when master control monitoring becomes the responsibility of the traffic department. A video monitor on the traffic department wall displays the system’s Supervisory View and enables the traffic staff to monitor and correct the on-air playlists for errors and exceptions. This high-level display provides only the needed status information for what is on the air. Audible and visual alerts are provided to notify traffic of any missing media or any exceptions requiring manual intervention. Because this display notifies them only when intervention is needed, the traffic staff is free to perform their regular duties while monitoring master control.

A second Supervisory View screen is also in the actual master control area. This enables master control technicians to also multitask while monitoring the on-air signal. A single operator can make dubs, do quality control checks and other tasks while monitoring multiple on-air playlists. It also notifies them only when intervention is required.

There are also multiple ingest workstations in the facility running Crispin’s Dubber software. In the past, all programs were dubbed to tape then delivered to master control for dubbing into the on-air server. This created a huge workload, as well as a bottleneck in master control. Now, locally-produced programming is ingested into the on-air server right from the edit room. This eliminates a large portion of the workload and increases on-air quality by eliminating generational loss in the tape dubbing process.

The heart of the automation system is Crispin’s AssetBase, which resides on a Web server within the facility. Any authorized operator can access this database to manage programming, inventory and satellite feeds — again freeing up a bottleneck in master control. In the past, all this information was placed on paper and then delivered to master control to be manually entered.

Crispin’s ArchiveManager application creates a digital archive of locally produced programming. WSKG has been producing local documentaries since its inception in 1968. Its library now includes rare historical footage of upstate New York.

ArchiveManager does not require middleware to manage the actual archive volumes. This is not only a tremendous cost savings, but it simplifies the management and maintenance of the system.

Crispin’s applications helped streamline WSKG’s operations, improve its on-air presentation and enhance its brand.

Design TeamTechnology at Work Crispin: Crispin System 2000 Rodney Mood, CTO Omneon servers Jim Zagrobelny, VP of software dev. NVISION routers Tom Kingsley, chief sales eng. Bob Valinski, dir. of bus. dev. SignaSys: Jeff Johnston, proj. mgr. WSKG: Peter Bombar, former chief eng.
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