During 2011, ITV Meridian moved into a totally new facility on the Solent Business Park near Southampton. This move gave us the opportunity to create a facility that was exactly suited to ITV Meridian’s specific requirements. Two production studio spaces, control rooms, edit suites, graphic design and traffic areas were installed, along with a newsroom and various meeting and breakout areas.
We also took the opportunity to replace most of the core broadcast infrastructure with new HD compliant equipment, and as part of that brief we looked at our multi-channel waveform and audio monitoring systems. Products from various manufacturers were assessed by ITV’s technical team to compare features and cost.
We eventually chose the PT0760M Multichannel Waveform and Audio Monitoring system from DK-Technologies because it offered flexible waveform and audio monitoring for the HD environment. After successfully implementing DK-Technologies’ system at ITV Meridian, ITV has now rolled out the same solution to its News broadcast facilities in Leeds and Manchester.
All three facilities are now equipped with five DK Waveform Monitoring systems comprising a PTO760 with HDSDI input core, a PTO760-I/P-8A analogue audio input module, and a PTO760M-O/P-8A analogue output module. Each system is augmented with a matching secondary passive display unit. ITV News Leeds and Manchester facilities have an additional PTO710 Waveform Monitor, which is being used for its studio vision control position.
The multiple inputs, video and audio, remove the requirement for external monitoring switchers. DK-Technologies flexible configuration features allow us to create specific presets for each of the user groups.
ITV Meridian’s operational staff were consulted on the configuration features to make the units operator-friendly. An additional benefit to the News division is that they can be fully controlled and monitored over the ITV WAN to enhance nationwide out- of-hours support (although these features are implemented in other makes of waveform monitor/rasteriser, the Java interface in the DK-Technologies range produces the best remote response).
The DK display is one of the best we’ve seen for clarity and most importantly viewing angle, which is critical in the raked upstands of control desks and is an area where some other makes of monitor have been found wanting. The displays are also cheap to service as we can change the backlight ourselves at a modest cost.
ITV Meridian became the template for subsequent installations as ITV was keen to standardise monitoring stations. As a result, five physically identical sets of DK equipment were installed, each appropriately configured for the different applications required.
Two of the monitoring stations are situated in the Traffic area, one is in CAR and the remaining two are in the craft edit suites. Each system is mounted in custom-built control room furniture, designed by Lund Halsey to take a 3RU rackmount waveform monitor arrangement.
The DK units do away with the need for additional monitoring switchers because they perform that function for us. This led to valuable rack space being saved because we didn’t have to accommodate any additional monitoring switching. The DK units also control independent loudspeaker and headphone monitoring for each position.
The equipment choices that ITV News made for its new Meridian premises not only enable it to move seamlessly to HD, but have also formed the basis for the way other ITV News facilities have been equipped.
We have rolled out ITV Meridian’s core equipment choices to other regional News sites in Leeds and Manchester as we have refurbished them. ITV Meridian’s new complex has been a good proving ground.
Gerard Jennings is ITV News and Regions’ Engineering Manager.