Wheat:News TV Current Issue

WHEAT:NEWS TV

MARCH 2017
Vol 4, No.3

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-- Scott Johnson, Editor

IP and the 80 Percent Rule

WCCB Richard England D3TouchSenior audio mixer for the WCCB-TV morning show, Richard England, is shown here in front of the Dimension Three Touch audio console

WCCB Logo“Our philosophy is to operationally stay within the system box…doing 80% that works consistently and reliably on a daily basis rather than 100% that doesn’t.”

Those are the words of Bob Davis, Director of Engineering and Operations for regional broadcaster Bahakel Communications headquartered in Charlotte, NC, and they make good sense to any broadcaster who wants to move into IP workflows without making a mess of things.

As he explains, “Providing a solid and stable system design for our production and operations teams while keeping them within well-defined parameters is the key to our success in the world of IP video and audio.”

Bahakel has been perfecting the 80 percent mindset for two years, during which time the group has linked up three of its six stations over IP for live, daily production. From its WCCB-TV studio in Charlotte, the group produces WOLO-TV’s newscasts from nearby Columbia, South Carolina. All studio cameras, mics, IFB, prompter, weather system, and set monitors in the downtown Columbia newsroom are linked to Charlotte by IP. In Charlotte, it all goes through production and master control, and is then re-encoded with all the sub-channels and sent back to Columbia via IP transport for transmission.

The same setup is used for some programming for WFXB-TV in Myrtle Beach. Mid-day weather is presented from the Columbia newsroom, through WCCB-TV production, and fed back via IP to WFXB-TV for air. News and weather content can be originated from any of the three locations for all three stations, as was the case during Hurricane Matthew.

Wheatstone’s Dimension Three IP audio console handles the mixing, mic control and IFB for all three from the Charlotte studio, using WheatNet-IP audio network I/O BLADEs. The three studios are less than a few hundred miles from each other. For audio-video transport, Bahakel uses Adtec, Harmonic and Sencore equipment for the IP links. “Often syncing the audio and video is a problem, but for us it has not been. We make sure the A/V encoding is done properly, with close attention paid to stream parameters and system design for synchronization so there’s no video and audio drift,” explains Davis.

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There is a slight delay due to H.264 HD 4:2:2 quality video encoding and transport, but Davis says this has been an anticipated part of production since the group began central-casting WOLO-TV from WCCB-TV over earlier DS3 circuits years ago.

The difference is that by going from DS3 circuits to a dedicated IP link, the group has cut transport costs in half – and without compromising reliability. When Hurricane Matthew came through the area last fall, Bahakel broadcast live on all three stations from all three stations, continuing to broadcast even during a mass evacuation in Myrtle Beach without losing IP connectivity. WFXB-TV’s building was empty and dark, remotely operated from WCCB-TV during the storm.

“Everything we do is around the idea that it has to work reliably without daily intervention, and we prove the system beforehand so we know the operational limitations,” explains Davis. As IT technology proves itself over time, the group then folds those new developments into its operation, making the best of current technology without getting stuck with early adopter reliability issues. WCCB-TV started with a Wheatstone TV80 analog audio console in 1999, and then upgraded to the Dimension Three with touchscreen access in October of 2016. “We evaluated the console and saw that it could be connected via (IP audio network) BLADEs, and thought, ‘let’s see what else we can do with that,’” says Davis. “Wheatstone’s service and support are superb, so we had confidence their IP products would meet our needs.”

WCCB GaryStrickler TV80 Board

Recently, he expanded on the WheatNet-IP audio network with Wheatstone’s EDGE and AuraIP-8 BLADE for an eight-channel audio link over Ethernet IP. The group uses the system for transporting multiple Columbia radio stations’ audio back to WOLO-TV’s master control in Charlotte for Emergency Alert System (EAS) compliance.

“While we do push the envelope here, rather than going for the 100 percent that’s problematic, we go for the 80 percent that works. That’s working very well for us,” sums up Davis.

Sounds like a good plan to us.

Shown, Gary Strickler, senior audio mixer for WCCB-TV’s evening news, in front of the station’s original TV80 audio console

IP Audio and At-Home Remote Productions

PhilChart3Audio has been comfortably traveling on IP for years and we’ve now arrived at a point where the IP audio model has become extremely useful for at-home remote productions.

Systems that were previously put together with an assortment of signal types (analog mic and line, AES, GPI, SDI) can now be assembled using IP as the unifying signal type. This is particularly helpful for creating a “network on location” that can handle audio I/O, IFB, and audio processing.

This approach involves the use of IP audio I/O endpoints at the home studio and at the remote location, where there’s a variety of signal types for ingesting wireless and wired mic sources, and IFB to various talent and camera-persons, plus program outputs.

IP audio endpoints help create a unified signal matrix for routing any audio or control input to any output over an integrated network of devices all running on Gigabit Ethernet. In addition, with the advent of intelligent endpoints, aggregating baseband audio signals into mixed and processed IP audio streams is now possible. For example, our WheatNet-IP endpoints, or I/O units known as BLADEs, have built-in mixing and processing so that venue-side levels can be controlled from the main studio. Similarly, if an ambient crowd mic at the venue location has too much low end, the producer at the main studio can apply a high pass filter remotely.

Wheatstone’s Phil Owens and Lon Neumann will be discussing these and other details of At-Home Remote Production with IP Audio Networking at the upcoming NAB2017 BEIT conference, Saturday, April 22, Room N256. We hope to see you there.

Be our guest at the NAB 2017 show. Use this pass code when you register for free admission to the exhibits!

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Your IP Question Answered

EQ

Q: How does your WheatNet-IP audio network handle IFB?

A: If you have an existing IFB intercom system, you can interface it directly into the WheatNet-IP audio network using our MADI unit. Or, you can use the WheatNet-IP audio network as your IFB backbone. We have utility mixers built into the system’s I/O units, known as BLADEs, so you can create mix-minus anywhere in the network. Either way, IFB can be preset, controlled and triggered from any IP console in the WheatNet-IP audio network.

EQ

Wheatstone

  • KJLH-FM (Inglewood, CA) purchased an LX-24 control surface, three TS-4 talent stations, three I/O BLADEs, two M4IP four channel mic processor BLADEs, NAVIGATOR software and ScreenBuilder app.

  • Bohn Broadcast (Chealsea, AL) upgraded to NAVIGATOR 3 software and purchased four WDM drivers for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • WNKJ-FM (Hopkinsville, KY) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console, an M4IP-USB four channel mic processor BLADE, NAVIGATOR 3 software and three I/O BLADEs through Audio Media Associates.

  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Eagle (Butte, SD) purchased an LX-24 control surface, M4IP four channel mic processor BLADE, an I/O BLADE, NAVIGATOR software and AirAura X1 audio processor and FM-55 audio processor through RF Specialty Group of Texas.

  • Sinclair’s WKRC-TV (Cincinnati, OH) purchased a Series Four TV audio console.

  • Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) purchased an E-6 control surface with WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Radio Veritas (Quezon City, Philippines) purchased a SideBoard surface for an existing LX-24 control surface and WheatNet-IP audio network through Broadcast World Philippines.

  • McNeese State University’s KBYS-FM (Lake Charles, LA) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console and M4IP-USB four channel mic processor BLADE.

  • Hearst’s WGAL-TV (Lancaster, PA) purchased a Dimension Three audio console.

  • WBUR-FM (Boston, MA) added a Gibraltar I/O unit to an existing Wheatstone network.

  • Townsquare Media (Evansville, IN) purchased six I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Lazer Broadcasting (Oxnard, CA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.

Click to See The Rest of the List...
  • Lotus Communications (Tucson, AZ) purchased a TS-4 talent station and WDM driver for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • KFRG-FM (Colton, CA) purchased a GP-3 headphone panel for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Humber College (Mississauga, ON) purchased an LXE control surface through Ron Paley Broadcast.

  • KCWC-FM (Riverton, WY) purchased an I/O BLADE and WDM driver for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.

  • Crawford Broadcasting (Buffalo, NY) purchased three E-6 control surfaces and I/O BLADEs.

  • iHeartMedia (Charlotte, NC) purchased two LX-24 control surfaces and I/O BLADEs.

  • Saga (Milwaukee, WI) purchased two IP-12 digital audio consoles.


Audioarts Engineering

  • Voice of Welch Communications (Welch, OK) purchased an Air-5 console.

  • Southside Media Collective (Fort Worth, TX) purchased an Air-5 console.

  • Taylor University (Upland, IN) purchased an Air-5 console.

  • KTUI-FM (Sullivan, MO) purchased an Air-5 console.

  • WFLM-FM (White City, FL) purchased an Audioarts 08 console.

  • SCA Sound Solutions (Tokyo, Japan) purchased an R-55e console.

  • Jingzhou Radio Hubei (Hubei, China) purchased a D-76 console and WheatNet-IP audio network through Audio Design Company.


Wheatstone Audio Processing

  • iHeartMedia (Miami, FL) purchased two M4IP-USB four channel mic processor BLADEs and M2 dual channel mic processors.

  • Rick Hunter (iHeartMedia) (Tucson, AZ) purchased an M1 mic processor for personal use.

  • Oakwood Broadcast (Mississauga, ON) purchased an FM-25 audio processor.


VoxPro

  • iHeartMedia (Miami, FL) purchased two VoxPro digital audio recorder/editors.

  • KFMB-FM (San Diego, CA) purchased a VoxPro6 digital audio recorder/editor.

A Comparison of Wheatstone Television Audio Consoles

Fybush and Owens on Dimension Three, Part 2

In this video series, Phil Owens takes Scott Fybush through each of the Wheatstone TV Audio consoles, explaining functionality and outlining similarities and differences.

This video is the second in the series, continuing a close look at Dimension Three.

To see the others, please click here.

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