Boston’s WGBH-TV, a leader in public television, recently completed a significant upgrade of its production infrastructure with new equipment from Grass Valley, a Belden Brand. The station installed two new routers, a new router control system and new multiviewers to improve production capabilities and enhance the efficiency of its workflow. WGBH is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member station that first debuted more than 60 years ago—and today is responsible for more than two-thirds of the PBS programming that is distributed to all member stations across the country.
Charged with overseeing the upgrade and the selection process, Emeric Feldmar, director of engineering at WGBH-TV, worked with systems integrator BeckTV, to assess the options. The routers being replaced were from Grass Valley and had reached end of life, but Feldmar was open to any manufacturer as he sought the best solution for the station. Five RFQs were issued and a team vetted each of the proposals. In the end, Grass Valley was chosen for its advanced technology and proven performance.
“We’ve been a Grass Valley customer for more than 30 years, but that doesn’t mean that we automatically select our new equipment without a competitive process,” explained Feldmar. “It’s important to us that we have the best we can get. The router serves the entire foundation of our operation, so this is a very strategic investment. After looking at our options, we chose Grass Valley and have been very pleased with the results.”
Making an upgrade in such a high-pressure, always-on environment is a challenge. Feldmar’s team had to ensure that the process did not create any disruption in production or content delivery, so everything was very carefully planned before beginning the installation. Miles of temporary patch jacks were installed to ease the transition, and once the new routers and control system were up and running, the switch was almost immediate.
WGBH-TV chose the NVISION 8576, a 576×1152 router in a single 32 RU frame, as well as the NVISION 8144, a 144×144 router in single 8 RU frame. Both routers are part of the NVISION 8500 HYBRID router series, combining exceptional resilience with cost, space and power efficiency that make them an ideal enterprise-class routing solution. Perfect for production and playout applications from trucks to the largest engine rooms, the routers offer the convenience of integrated audio processing and simplified cable management with no compromises on reliability.
The new routers are controlled by the Grass Valley NV9000 Control System, which includes a wide range of highly adapted panels for superior control plus advanced, highly resilient router controllers. The panel range includes informative and easy to use LCD relegendable panels, multi-destination panels, multimode button per source panels, destination/source (XY) panels and the powerful RCP-200 smart panel.
Originally, the project did not include new multiviewers, but during the process Feldmar and his team decided that switching from a previous supplier to the Grass Valley Kaleido-X multiviewers would make the most sense. Kaleido-X offers the finest picture quality, unmatched display configuration flexibility and exceptional resilience. Ideal for applications demanding high picture counts per display and total non-blocking flexibility, Kaleido-X is available in two frames—up to 96 inputs and eight multiviewer outputs (7 RU), or up to 32 inputs and four multiviewer outputs (4 RU). With its advanced metadata extraction, signal probing and alarming capabilities, Kaleido-X excels in master control and headend environments. When integrated with routers, Kaleido-X enables very large and versatile monitoring systems.
Feldmar added: “Our operators already had experience with the Grass Valley routers, so it was a very quick learning curve. In fact, the new interface is even more intuitive and customizable, which makes it easier for us to plan for the future. The on-site training before and during the installation made it even easier to avoid any problems when we made the switch.”
WGBH-TV uses Belden cables throughout the facility, and Feldmar likes that Grass Valley is part of the Belden organization. He feels that it gives Grass Valley additional strength and advantages in the market and has always appreciated the support he has received from every level of the organization.
”WGBH’s position in broadcast is unrivaled, and we are excited to be their vendor of choice for this upgrade,” stated Kyle Luther, vice president sales, North America, Grass Valley. “This was an ambitious project. Working with the right partners and building on our combined expertise were the keys to meeting the challenge for WGBH now, and for the future.”
The control room at the WGBH-TV facility in Boston supports several other PBS member stations in New England as well as several PBS radio stations. The content volume is high, and the new router and infrastructure solutions from Grass Valley now in place are a key part of making sure that viewers around the country continue to enjoy the PBS programming they have come to love.