BROOKLINE, MASS. At Brookline Access Television (BATV), we’re trying to change the face of public access television. BATV is committed to providing a wide range of programming, including documentaries, studio-based talk shows, and coverage of local government meetings. We encourage the participation of our residents and local organizations through instructional workshops, plus we offer production courses at our facility through agreements with local colleges. We like to think that our new 10,000-square-foot facility is one of the most technologically advanced community multimedia centers in the country.
RECENT MOVE TO HIGH DEFINITION We celebrated the grand opening of this facility on March 28, following a soft launch back in January. Our new digs include two high-definition studios and two identical control rooms, which are anchored by Broadcast Pix Slate 5000 systems and Yamaha 01V96 digital audio mixers, which are controlled through the Slates. We have 45 edit stations that are all connected to a 40 TB shared storage server system. I handled the broadcast equipment integration, while our dealer, HB Communications, provided the audio and video integration for the classrooms and other areas in the building.
WORKFLOW TOOLSET BUILT INTO SWITCHER Part of the appeal of the Broadcast Pix switchers is their Fluent workflow tools—from the built-in Inscriber CG to clip and graphics stores. Fluent’s Multi-View feature allows us to view our sources on a 52-inch flat screen display in each control room. Fluent Watch-Folders is another valuable workflow tool. We don’t use it much for simple productions, but it’s invaluable when we have to add last minute graphics.
Several of our shows use virtual backgrounds, so Slate’s outstanding chromakey technology gets regular use as well. And for these shows, we often use Fluent Macros to create presets that automatically change the virtual set to correspond with the different cameras.
We didn’t want our new control rooms to appear to be a hodgepodge of equipment racks, so our Slate 5000 control panels are recessed into custom consoles manufactured by TBC Consoles. In public access television, particularly when you’re working with volunteer crews, sometimes you can have a room full of help, or it could be just a one-man operation. Our consoles are designed to allow one TD easy access to all of the equipment needed for an entire production, but we can accommodate a full crew when it’s necessary. BATV produces its programming in high definition, though we’re still transmitted in SD by the Comcast and RCN cable systems.
However, we’re planning to launch high-definition video on our Web site later this year, and with our Broadcast Pix systems, we’re prepared should an HD opportunity become available on one or both of the cable systems. I am a huge fan and advocate of Broadcast Pix. From a financial standpoint, Broadcast Pix is a great decision for any public access or small to mid-market facility. You really get a lot of product for the money. Also, their switching systems can handle extremely complicated productions, but are also easy to use. Our Slate 5000s allow students and volunteers to grow at their own pace into more advanced productions.