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The efficiency factor

For three decades, ABC affiliate WWSB(TV) Sarasota, Fla., has been broadcasting from a building built in 1971 with manual cameras and analog systems (Betacam for news acquisition and a Betacart for commercial playback). But now it is moving into a new 21,500-square-foot, server-based, automated digital facility on the northern fringe of downtown and plans to go on-air in November. The architect is Atlanta's Carlson & Associates; AF Associates of Northvale, N.J., is the systems integrator; and key vendors include Philips, Omneon Video Networks, FAST Multimedia and Sundance.

"WWSB was willing to look at concepts that would allow it to operate more efficiently, so we moved to a server-based facility and introduced automation," reports AF's Senior Project Manager David Linick. "Omneon's networked content server gives them great operational flexibility at an extremely economic price. We researched automation systems and selected a Sundance system which will integrate all the elements needed for their programming requirements, including automation of satellite acquisition of syndicated programming (pointing the dishes, setting the receivers and moving programs onto the playlist). Because a lot of WWSB's programming is syndicated, this simplifies things considerably. Omneon, FAST and Sundance saw promise in each others' products and developed a close partnership that saw equipment flying between their factories and resulted in a better product for WWSB."

Because WWSB provides a lot of news each day, news-clip playback needs to be as efficient as possible. So Sundance is working with the station to develop the next generation of its NewsBreak system, which will integrate the news playback from the server.

"A major goal of the station was to break up the afternoon bottleneck when news comes in and everyone has to wait for the tape to travel," explains WWSB President and General Manager Manny Calvo. "With the FAST Purple nonlinear editing system tied into the Omneon Network content server, when a tape comes in to the newsroom, it can be ingested to the server and be readily available to multiple users simultaneously."

WWSB needed to add new capability and maintain highly efficient work flow, so the new facility will have a central repository of high-quality, all-digital material—removing the need for encoding and decoding and significantly improving work-flow efficiency by reducing the number of times humans have to interact with the product, says Slate.

"We are going with the Oxtel Presmaster master control switch, which will be operating under Sundance automation control," Linick notes.

The new digital facility will use Philips LDK-100 cameras mounted on Vinten robotics. A Philips Venus routing switcher will provide the requisite core of serial digital, AES and RS-422 control routing. In the main production- control room, a Calrec audio console complements a Philips DD35-3 production switcher. Other new equipment consists of a Pinnacle suite, including the FX Deko character generator, Lightning still store and DVE extreme digital effects. WWSB is currently in the process of converting field acquisition equipment to Panasonic DVCPRO.