Written by Simon Lloyd Category: Projects
Published on 01 January 2008

Our current studio has been part of a major refurbishment for rather longer than any of us would care to admit to. Keeping the studio in a reasonably modern working condition with a budget of almost nothing and the efforts of a handful of members on Sundays is quite an achievement. Today we use mainly equipment that is donated by broadcasters so we will always about ten years behind the industry, but that said our studio complex is still pretty impressive. In simple terms we have a studio with its gallery and two edit suites, currently equipped as follows:

This is a linear tape based edit suite with facilities for DVCam, DVC Pro and Betacam SP onto BetaSP. In recent times it has been converted into our temporary transmission area whilst work continues on the main gallery. Its VTRs can also replay into the main gallery on larger events requiring a separate VT area. There are two matrix record lines into the area enabling us to record multiple feeds. It is equipped with a Sony 900 edit controller, 6 channel PAL vision mixer, and 12 channel audio mixer. It has access to the Aston Caption, cameras and still store from the mixer. The room has talkback and comms to the gallery and external sources. It can also take control of any of the VTRs in the gallery including the Profile server.

This is a Non Linear Edit suite using Apple's Final Cut Pro. This is our main edit suite for the majority of our productions. It normally works with a dedicated DVCam recorder but can also capture and lay back to Betacam as it is fitted with a Matrox RT Mac interface. Commentaries can be recorded in the suite or from the studio. It has some quite decent audio and waveform monitoring to ensure that everything that comes out of the room meets broadcasting standards. Finally, it has lines in and out of the suite so it can make a recording or even transmit directly from the timeline during a live transmission, if the need arises.

The Gallery is dual-function and operates as our Network transmission area and the Studio Gallery. These two functions can work together or independently when required, although working independently does have a few limitations. The Network transmission position can be run by a single person who controls the channel output using a 16 channel Grass Valley Master 21 master control switcher. The operator can control VT machines and server channels manually with some machines under remote control of the switcher. The transmission schedule can be pre-assembled in our simple automation system or run live as required. The operator also has control of audio cart system, Aston caption generator, Quantel still store and a live camera for all of the continuity links. Live links can be broadcast using the operator microphone, but it is normally better to prerecord them where possible. The rest of the room has been designed to be a flexible as possible when the studio is in use. The gallery can be operated by two people; one director and one sound. However, additionally on larger events there are dedicated positions for a Vision mixer, Graphics operator and a VT operator. The vision mixer is a 24 channel GVG 200P with two ME banks and DSK. It can be programmed by E-Mem if required. Almost all of the sources are available on the full size monitor stack with 27 monitors. Graphics are provided by an Aston Caption and dual channel Quantel Picturebox. Limited space means this position may also be called upon to control the lighting and rack cameras. Video record and replay in the gallery is Betacam SP, DVCam or video server. All of these sources can be controlled by a shot box control panel. The sound desk is a 16 channel Neve desk with more groups and auxiliaries than we could ever need. There are also controls for a virtual cart system, CD, and minidisk.

The studio floor is quite small and is generally set up with a simple news desk or as a more informal soft area. It isn't really big enough for anything more elaborate than that. It is equipped with a minimum of two cameras with the possibility of up to four cameras. Each camera is fitted with talkback and cue facilities. Two of the cameras have Prompter hoods and the scripts can be controlled by the presenter or by an operator. We have a range of both cabled and wireless microphones for the presenters and guests. The presenters have the option of wired or wireless talkback. We have a two channel system so presenters can choose open or switched talkback as they prefer. Foldback speakers on the floor ensure presenters hear what is going on; and timings are accurate as the studio has a time code controlled clock slaved to the gallery. All in all there is very little we can't do in our studio from simple links recordings to live events with multiple external sources.

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