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WGBH Director of Engineering Emeric Feldmar talks about the construction of the new facility.

At the Wednesday, February 22, 2017 meeting...
The Making of a “Satellite” Broadcast Studio
With Director of Engineering, WGBH-TV

The February 22nd meeting of the New England Section of SMPTE was held in the Johnson Building annex of the world-renown Boston Public Library, located in Copley Square in downtown Boston.

Section Chair Marty Feldman introduced our event host, Emeric Feldmar, Director of Engineering, WGBH-TV (PBS).

Feldmar described the year-long efforts that went into the design, equipment selection and construction of a new multi-media Broadcast Facility operated by WGBH for live Radio and Television events directly from the Boston Public Library. He also outlined the various challenges encountered when working in an historic building environment where even the most minor details had to first be approved by various boards and agencies.

The new broadcast facility sits very openly at one corner of the historic library's newly-renovated Johnson Building and is modeled to fit right in with the historic building's upbeat décor.

The stated mission of WGBH's first “downtown studio” is to bring a very public presence right into the heart of the city. Located right at street level, the facility allows all of its myriad activities to be visible from both outside and within the Library space. The adjoining "Newsfeed Café” contributes to the very homey and welcoming atmosphere of the entire facility.

Since its debut in September of 2016, the WGBH studio has been utilized for live anddelayed-broadcast Television, Radio and Web programming and has become a magnet in the bustling Copley Square area for both Bostonians and tourists alike.

The WGBH Facility has open glass walls on the building’s street sides, for public viewing of live broadcasts from the exterior sidewalks, and full open-area viewing inside the Library itself. Internally, there is a truss system for lighting and LCD monitors, which also serves as a room divider from the public walkway and the live studio area.

A “Talk Radio” style anchor desk with modern microphone boom systems is centered within the studio space, and three Sony SMPTE fiber-based,two-thirds inch chip broadcast HD cameras are located on lightweight Vinten pedestals with Vinten VANTAGE robotic pan/tilt heads and Autoscript teleprompters configured within several feet of the anchor desk. The boom microphones are easily removed for any live television event and replaced with head-worn mics or traditional miniature lavalier microphones.

Emeric Feldmar explained in detail, the logistics and expense complexities the project team incurred during construction, with the need to core 27 cable penetrations into the Marble and Granite floors within the limited space allowed. Also, too, the conversion of a small storage area and stairwell to a technical control area for the camera controls and other related power and data terminal equipment for operating the system.

Key to the utilization concept which Feldmar emphasized in the design of the dual radio and TV system was a TOTAL IP-based control scheme for EVERY working item within the facility. This included IP-based and fiber transmission of each individual microphone feed and the return feeds for monitor speakers and headsets.

Included also in this scheme was full remote control of the HD camera systems for zoom, focus, pan and tilt positioning. The connectivity includes all DMX Lighting control and presenter cueing via IFB and tally lights on the individual microphones.

This is enabled by a purpose-built fiber-transporter “Caddie” from Joseph Electronics, designed to deliver signals between the remote studio at the library and the main WGBH facility almost a seven mile fiber runto the west. The custom transporter “Caddie” makes it possible for WGBH to broadcast from the new studio by carrying all audio, video, ancillary and data signals in both directions through one self-contained product. WGBH has full-duplex connectivity that allows operators to manage up to four HD cameras with full robotic control; two separate Gigabit Ethernet paths; return video and audio for PA, intercom, IFB, reference and monitoring; GPIO; DMX lighting control; and all microphones for Radio and Television broadcast. Equipment can be controlled and cameras switched from either the WGBH main studio or from the library remote location. Typically, all programs except those exclusively for the web are controlled from the WGBH main studios, where an operator observes even the radio programs over the video sent back via fiber.

Feldmar closed his portion of the presentation answering questions from the attendees, emphasizing that the WGBH Broadcast facility at The Boston Public Library is looking forward to a brisk and productive future within the WGBH broadcast community, and explained that it might not be limited to just public broadcast efforts.

As has always been the case in the Boston area where commercial and public stations often provide mutual aid and pool feed services for each other, it would not be unexpected that any one of the area’s local commercial stations might employ the use of the WGBH “Newsfeed Café” for special event or season-related live broadcasts from the BPL at Copley Square.

After Feldmar’s excellent overviewthere followed a detailed technical description of the camera and robotics technology featuring Sony’s New England Broadcast Account Manager Steve Dirksmeier, and Gary Adcock, “Product Ambassador,” for Vitec, the makers of the Vinten pedestals and robotic camera supports employed in the facility.

Submitted by:
Marty Feldman, New England Section Chair and Paul Beck, Section Treasurer.

Photo Credit: Martin P. Feldman, Chairman, SMPTE New England Section.

Marty Feldman
Chair, SMPTE New England Section
February 2017

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Updated: 19 January, 2017
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor