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City of Bellingham Expands Local Event Coverage with New Portable Production System from ABS

SEATAC, WA — Bellingham TV Channel 10 (BTV10), the government and education channel for the city of Bellingham, Wash., produces multi-camera coverage of meetings from City Hall and single-camera event coverage throughout Whatcom County. However, a new portable production system from professional video and audio systems integration firm Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) is helping the channel produce multi-camera HD productions throughout its community.

Before the city purchased its remote production system from ABS, very few meetings or events were covered beyond City Hall. A multi-camera remote production required a cost-prohibitive crew of six, including three camera operators. Then, footage from each camera (recorded separately) had to be placed in a multi-cam editing environment and assembled with graphics, which often added another day in post before the program was completed.

In contrast, BTV10 covered an event last month on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with four cameras and a two-man crew – and the program was ready later that evening after minor trimming at the beginning and end. Featured on Comcast Cable throughout Whatcom County, BTV10 has covered almost a dozen meetings and other events with its portable system since last September.

When he met with ABS at an industry event last summer, station coordinator Dal Neitzel was impressed that the company could build a low-cost, portable multi-camera production solution tailored for a crew of one or two people. “We were looking for a way to cover meetings, indoor events, and presentations in other locations that were of interest to our community,” he said. “ABS had answers. They had solutions.”

The remote production system is built around three Panasonic AW-HE120K HD PTZ cameras with Libec LS-22 tripods, Panasonic AW-RP50 remote camera controller, and Panasonic AG-HMX100 digital AV mixer with built-in multi-viewer and audio mixer. Each camera is connected by a custom-built 60-foot SDI multi-conductor camera cable with power, LAN, and serial control.

“I was skeptical at first,” Neitzel admitted, “but once I saw the cameras in action, they were definitely a step up from what we had. The images just look wonderful.”

A Matrox Convert DVI Plus scan converter allows BTV10 to feed presentations from a computer or projector directly into the Panasonic switcher, rather than use a camera to shoot an on-site projector screen or monitor. Lower-third graphics are produced on a laptop using Adobe Photoshop. Productions are recorded to an AJA Ki Pro Mini, while a Viewcast Niagara streaming media system allows live HD streaming to the Internet. The equipment is transported in four wheeled SKB waterproof cases, and the system can be setup quickly on a small utility table.

“It’s fair to say our solution is unconventional – PTZ cameras aren’t typically mounted to tripods – but it was the solution that worked within BTV10’s budget and crew limitations,” explained Arco Groenenberg, ABS vice president of sales and marketing. “The remote system is easy to transport, requires minimal setup, and delivers a quality HD production.”

“There’s still a lot of equipment involved in what we do. Technology moves so fast, it’s just really hard to keep up with it,” Neitzel added. “I have to depend on folks like ABS to help. They have the engineering skills and the production background. They’re my engineers, my advisors, and my consultants. We are very happy with the service and the products that ABS has provided.”

About ABS:

Based in SeaTac, WA, ABS (Advanced Broadcast Solutions) delivers customized, technologically superior solutions for broadcast, corporate, house of worship, entertainment, government, and educational facilities – from design and integration to installation and support services. Since 1982, its experienced technical staff has installed more than 700 systems for clients including Fisher Communications, Cowles California Media, Real Networks, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft Studios. For more information, call 206-870-0244 or visit www.advancedbroadcastsolutions.com.

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