Written by Simon Lloyd Category: Projects
Published on 05 April 2000

Harefield Hospital TV has a problem with space. It's not that we don't have any, in fact we are very lucky to have the old bowling pavilion to use as our studio complex. The problem is that the space we have is FULL. Every spare inch seems to be crammed with old television equipment and most of it is waiting for me to fix it, use bits of it to get other bits working or install it into wonderful new studio areas. One of these wonderful areas we wanted was a brand new edit suite, for putting our stories together. Our old edit suite is also used as the area to transmit our programmes, so it makes the very best possible use of space but is just about the worst designed edit suite I have ever used. On top of that, when ever you want to edit someone seems to want to transmit a programme to the wards, meaning that you have to stop until they have finished!

So early in 1999 I started work on the new area. Things are never that simple, as we first had to move the office and VHS suite to elsewhere. So first we moved the tape library to make room for the office but in about a third of the space it had taken up in the past. Oh! How cosy it is now. Then the VHS editing had to be balanced on a bookshelf in the corridor, while we got on with the building. I think some people thought that this would only take a few weeks - still they will learn.

First we completely stripped the room, so that we could construct a new false ceiling with a storage loft above. There were also huge holes around the room where we had used them to get our cable from one room to another. All these were filled in, as one of the most important things about this suite would be that it was comfortable and pleasant to work in. The room is only about 11 feet by 8 feet but it still took a couple of months to do the building work, electric's and decoration. There had been lots of fancy plans for a colour scheme that wouldn't have been out of place on any of those designer DIY shows on television but luckily when it comes to buying the paint White is much cheaper, so that's what colour it is.

Some salvaged carpet tiles made the floor comfortable if a little plain and boring. The BBC had supplied an equipment bay on wheels a couple of years before hand. This would hold all the editing equipment and could be pushed back against the wall after I had wired it up. It would take up quite a lot of space in the room but we weren't quite expecting it to be quite such a tight fit. We had checked it went into the room before the building work started but the space was so tight that it wouldn't fit the door now we had laid the carpet tiles, and they are only a quarter of an inch thick. Still a very big hammer soon did the trick!

When we started we planned to build a control desk from scratch but just before we needed to fit this the Beeb came to our rescue again as they rang to say that we could have an old control room desk that would be about the right size. When it arrived we couldn't believe our luck. The desk was an almost perfect fit, needing only about an inch trimmed off of one edge. With the desk in place the room looked very nearly finished. Looking finished and being finished are two very different things, as now the real work could start - the wiring up of the equipment. The room needed just over 200 cables to be installed, for video, audio, power and control. Many of these just joined the machines in the bay to the control desk, others had to be fed to other places in the studio. However, it doesn't matter how long or short they are, they all need cutting to length, have ends put on them and numbers - so that we know what they do. It is always the part of the project where I get very bored. For weeks at a time nothing much seems to be going on, as it all happens so very slowly. Still by about November I was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I felt much better when I could see the end of the project and in March 2000 I finally declared the suite ready. Well very nearly, as we still need a couple of new(er) video recorders of the room to make it fully functional, but that should happen within a few weeks.

So now, I can sit back and er.... start the next project!

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