IDS case study
MediaCity UK (MCUK) is a new, purpose-built media park situated in Salford Quays in the historic docklands of Greater Manchester. It is home to some of the UKs highest profile media organisations including the BBC, ITV, Dock 10 (formally known as The Studios) and Salford University, providing state-of-the-art television and radio production facilities.
With our parent company, IPE Ltd, we have had a key involvement in the technology deployment over the last four years, working with three separate organisations - Dock 10, BBC and ITV.
The first project to be completed at MCUK was in the Dock 10 studio complex, where IPE were awarded the design, installation and commissioning of the new BBC Philharmonic Studio - a custom built recording facility designed specifically for large orchestras - and the supply of the Multi-Purpose Audio Studios (MPAS), designed specifically for radio drama productions and music recordings.
Coinciding with this project, IPE was awarded the contract from the BBC as principal Audio Systems Integrator to provide all the radio studios and associated technical infrastructure for their new BBC North HQ on the MCUK site. This included 25 radio studios (assisted and self-op), the central audio routing and infrastructure, centralised communications and playout systems and a complex, hybrid IP/RF ring-main system.
Although IPE was not involved in the technical installation of the ITV studios, an IDS system was chosen to deliver broadcast critical information and control functionality throughout the technical areas in their new facility.
To date we have installed a six separate IDS network systems across MCUK. All of them working 24/7, delivering broadcast critical information and control functionality to these key programme makers. These systems and the development work involved with all the different applications have played an important role in the evolution and functionality of IDS.
Initially we were asked to install an IDS system to provide typical clocks and tally information. The specifiers for Dock 10 had seen IDS in action and knew it was capable of replacing traditional systems with a network of elegant displays, all managed and controlled via IP.
During installation and following several discussions it became evident that IDS could be extended to include extra functionality. We developed a web-based application to enable studio booking information to be sent to displays situated outside the studios live areas. This meant people in corridors and audience areas could see at-a-glance what was happening on the inside, providing information such as production, producer, director, etc. This simple web-based application has now developed into a sophisticated content manager capable of managing and ingesting multi-media content, text, urls and much more.
Dock 10 is often quoted as being one of the most technically advanced HD production facilities in the UK, with seven HD studios, two dedicated audio studios and a number of supporting post production suites.
It was the first broadcast facility to go live at MCUK, and incorporates a building-wide IDS system of over 60 networked displays located in all the technical areas including:
- TV studios, production control rooms and green rooms
- Corridors and audience areas outside studios
- Edit and post production suites
- Graphics and production offices
- BBC Philharmonic studios
- MPAS studio
Every display is individually customised to provide key information relevant to its location, including NTP referenced clocks and tally status etc, which can be reconfigured dynamically from their Master Control Room (MCR).
This started as another typical installation providing clocks and tally information throughout the facility, albeit a large one with a total of four IDS systems spread across two buildings - Quay House and Dock House. But again, as the project unfolded we were asked to add more functionality.
The first request was to design a way of controlling remote IR devices such as TVs and STBs. We did this by designing and manufacturing the IDS SQ-IRQ unit which, in conjunction with an IDS Touchscreen provides control of multiple IR devices.
The radio studios provide the BBC network output for Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and Radio 6 Music along with regional BBC Radio Manchester. The TV studios are the home of BBC Sport, BBC Breakfast and BBC Manchester. This means that many of the facilities are shared between studios, so we needed to provide presenters with a way of selecting pre-configured branded displays so that they could easily 'switch' screen layouts to suit whoever was using them. For example, using IDS Core's Screen Designer it is possible to create custom screens for any IDS display, meaning brand information and styling can be unique to each location.
In total, these four IDS systems have over 300 attached devices, all connected and controlled over IP. This includes 72 displays, 44 touchscreens, 100 wall and table signal lamps and 85 IDS SQ interface units.
Typically, the IDS hardware in each radio studio consists of two or more IDS Remora display drivers with associated 24" screens, an IDS Touchscreen configured with multiple tabs, an IDS SQ-IRQ interface for the remote control of multiple TVs, an IDS SQ-NLM to monitor the environmental noise levels (SPL) within the room, and a table top IDS Lamp. Outside each studio door is a twin channel IDS Wall Lamp with dual LEDs, to indicate broadcast status.
ITV is the latest broadcaster to have relocated to the Salford Quays site, bringing their Granada News studios and Coronation Street studios under one location.
The ITV News studios share the same building as Salford University, which is adjacent to the BBC and Dock 10 and in keeping with them both, IDS was chosen and integrated into the studio systems.
This is a smaller, self-contained system, consisting of a single IDS Core, an IDS SQuid for GPI/O interfacing and a number of IDS Remora3 network display drivers. The IDS displays and associated R3's are located in the production gallery, associated post-production areas and outside the studio doors and provide a constant stream of key information including clocks, broadcast status and tallies.
As part of this project, ITV commissioned development of an integrated television production timer that emulated the facilities of the now discontinued Harris/Leitch UDT5700 up-down timer.
With the demise of the UDT5700 we were able to take our existing dual LTC interface, the IDS SQ-DTC, and design a much more flexible replacement that was not restricted to a particluar hardware product, meaning we could offer the familiar functions and use of the Harris unit, but could build in additional features.
Basic functionality now allows for count up, down and to specific times with GPI triggered presets for each. Additionally, up to four independent timers can be set for each device, but if only one timer is required the others can be disabled in the software. The timer's UI can also be customised to suit user requirements.
As this system is fully integrated into IDS, it is not dependent on dedicated 19" rackmount or UMD units to repeat the timers in other areas.← Back to case studies