ABS Completes Control Upgrade for PCTV

Professional video and audio systems integration firm Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) recently completed a master control upgrade for Pierce County TV (PCTV), which operates two government channels and one educational channel from its facilities at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, WA.

Overseen by the Rainier Communications Commission (RCC), a cooperative of Pierce County and cities and towns within the county, PCTV creates and manages government access programming for the area. It maintains a busy production schedule, including Pierce County News, a weekly news program produced in its studio, and Rainier Country, an Emmy-nominated newsmagazine. PCTV also provides coverage of government meetings for Pierce County and six local cities. Programming is available via cable television and piercecountytv.org.

The previous master control supported two-channel SD composite video output for PCTV and University Place TV (UPTV), a channel dedicated to the city of University Place. However, the new master control also needed to support Clover Park Technical College Television (CPTC Television), an educational channel with its playback equipment located in a separate room in the same building.

Another important requirement of the new master control was that it could eventually transition to full HD-SDI. “We saw on the horizon the opportunity to move to HD,” said Ben Ramsey, PCTV cable operations specialist. Currently, studio and field footage is shot in 1080i using Panasonic AG-HPX300 P2 HD cameras, then downconverted for cablecast. However, PCTV recently received confirmation from Comcast that PCTV will be distributed in HD starting next year.

ABS arranged for meetings with equipment manufacturers at the 2011 NAB Show last spring so PCTV personnel could research their options. PCTV then designed the system and put it out to open bid. After winning the bid, ABS worked with PCTV to refine the system and made suggestions for improved operation. Installation of the new master control began in October 2011. After several weeks of testing, the three stations were switched to the new system in February 2012.

Based around PlayBox Technology automation, the new master control includes three AirBox playout servers and Capture Box capturing. Other new equipment includes Tektronix test and measurement tools, a Blackmagic Design router to handle the new SDI signals, and Blackmagic OpenGear A/D and D/A converters. “We still have a lot of legacy equipment,” Ramsey said.

The upgraded space is “a lot more productive,” according to Ramsey. It includes a separate control station; previously, all work was performed at the equipment racks. A Harris Predator multi-display controller feeds two 42-inch Panasonic LCDs at the control station. PCTV also plans to install walls around the new equipment racks to reduce fan noise.

PCTV has maintained a long relationship with ABS, and Ramsey said the entire upgrade process went very well. “As a government entity, all equipment projects go out on open bid, but ABS is very helpful when we’re looking for new equipment, whether they win the bid or not,” he said. “They are experts in this field and we enjoy working with them.”

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