TV stations WFFF-TV (Local 44, the Fox affiliate, and WVNY (Local 22) the local ABC affiliate are both licensed to Burlington, Vermont-and also serving viewers in Plattsburgh, NY and Southern Quebec, Canada. They also are produced in the same studio in Colchester, Vermont, using different anchors for their respective 6 - 7, 10 and 11 pm nightly newscasts and 5 - 9 am morning news coverage. The rest of the dayparts are filled with syndicated programming.
The 30 x 45’ studio recently underwent a complete upgrade-and went on air with the new equipment in June-in an effort to streamline operations. Now owned by Nexstar Media Group, the station has installed a Grass Valley Ignite automated news production system in tandem with a Telemetrics robotic camera system. Together the two systems enable each newscast to be produced by a single technical director, driving efficiency and significantly reducing technical issues.
“Both system work well together, as they are both IP driven and have the right connections for the associated IP equipment we use here,” said Keith Mayhue, an Engineer at WVNY and WFFF-TV. “As for the robotic cameras, they have helped us make the transitioning of camera movements a whole lot easier. The directors love the new equipment.”
The robotic camera system includes four Telemetrics PT-LP-S5 heads with Hitachi DK-H200 HD cameras, all controlled by a Telemetrics RCCP-2A-STS Robotic Camera Control Panel. The panel helps the TD set up shots before the newscast and transfer those settings as “news events” into the Ignite system’s show rundown. This, in turn, allows the newscast to virtually run on its own from a technical perspective, via the RCCP-2A’s IP connectivity.
The main benefit of the Telemetrics system for the station is that it is simple to set up and operates autonomously if desired. Also, training new operators to run it has been relatively fast with very few issues.
As for the equipment: A unique counter-balancing system on the PT-LP-S5 enables quick, easy and accurate setup, even when a teleprompter, confidence monitor, and other components are mounted on the head. LED indicators provide real-time warning if the load is out of balance and ultra-precise mechanics provide smooth motion.
The RCCP-2A-STS includes fully integrated studio (STS) software and a large touchscreen display to provide a 3D Studio View that allows a graphic display to be selected by the operator to work with a 3D representation of their studio environment and quickly see the location and orientation of any robotics and set pieces within that space.
The STS software also features a selectable Robotics Status display to show all major robotics parameters-such as pan/tilt angles, elevation height, rotational status and lens information-for any selected camera in the studio, at a glance.
Mayhue said that the overall strategy behind the new studio upgrade is to put out a better on-air product that will lead to increased ratings and revenue, one with more consistent camera moves and less technical errors.
“We’re always trying to improve how we do news and the Telemetrics system is a huge step in that direction,” said Mayhue.