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Television Media The Almighty Buck Technology

Cheap TV Broadcasting Solutions? 18

captnitro asks: "I'm heading up a studio renovation at a rather large college's TV station. Ever since I've been there, we've operated on a huge ten year replacement cycle for equipment; that is to say, a few new pieces trickle in every year, and none of it ends up being compatible with the stuff we already have that was purchased in 1996. This is due t: a dwindling budget due to budget cuts ($12k); and management, never the station engineers, making the purchasing decisions. Here's an example: since lighting isn't deemed a crucial point of the station by management, we have ceiling mounted hardware-store-standard floodlamps which make the studio incredible hot while shooting; our cameras are eight years old, but nobody wants to buy new cameras because management wants $35k ENG cams when we don't even have the broadcast resolution to be able to use them. This year, however, things have changed, and the station geeks have been given full authority to choose what they want. My question is this: what would other A/V engineers in my position recommend for cheap solutions?"

"Our wishlist is as follows:

(1) New Lighting. I'm thinking some nice non-strobing flourescents to properly flood the studio but stay cool (KinoFlos?)

(2) Cameras. Canon XL1s's are the best idea I have, but I really haven't heard much concerning 'pro-sumer' priced studio cameras, so perhaps someone can help me out here. Cameras are more of a long-term goal. While we're at it, does anyone have ideas for a camera-mounted prompter solution? Right now we're running a shareware prompter app off of a Win95 box whose VGA signal is mirrored to camera-mounted prompter monitors.

(3) Audio. Cheap mixers and compressors -- anybody have experience with the Behringer UB series? Lav mics. Does anyone have success with wireless lav mics in a studio situation, or should we stick to our XLRs?

(4) Decks and format. Currently we're STILL using SVHS to record shows. I've been considering recommending a switch to something a little more versatile. Others like MiniDV, but I have preservation issues. In my heart of hearts it would be great to record master to BetaSP, but as I've said before, we don't even need that kind of resolution.

(5) IT. Right now more than anything we need to come up to speed on 'convergence technologies', such as streaming our shows. At a conference a few months ago I looked at Sonic Foundry's 'MediaSite Live' system, I liked it, but could probably put something together myself much cheaper. I've also considered an Xserve and QT Streaming Server, but I don't really have much experience with that. Being a BSD junkie myself I'm fully and completely open to Linux/BSD solutions.

Finally, anyone know a company that makes newsdesks? The one's we built on our own look like crap.

Mostly this question is to see what other small, budget-minded stations have done to creatively solve their technical needs. Any help is appreciated."

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Cheap TV Broadcasting Solutions?

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  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Friday November 14, 2003 @04:43PM (#7476560)
    Take a look at:

    A) Lighting: We've used Kino Flo (

    B) Cameras: Stick with the XL-1s. They're great. You could move up to a small Sony DV "pro" camera, but you won't get much more. The one advantage to them is that they typically make camera dolly/prompter solutions for Sony gear. You might find some for the XL-1, however. Our studios use Sony studio-specific cameras with all those goodies, but the imagers aren't any better than a good XL-1 or Sony DVCAM.

    C) Audio: All over the place, but Mackie makes great reliable, cheap mixers. We use a lot of Sennheiser mics. But, again, we have all sorts.

    4) Decks, get the Sony DSR-45. No doubt about it. We have a whole bunch of different decks, but this one will get you all the audio ins/outs that you need, a built in LCD monitor and DV/DVCAM format compatibility.

    5) Get a PowerMac G5 and use Cleaner or Sorensen Squeeze. If you want to do live, use the free QT Broadcaster. You could actually do this on a cheaper Mac, maybe an eMac or iMac or even a PowerBook or iBook (get the G4 at least). You might also consider a dedicated box such as the VBrick VBXcast, which we also use. It creates MPEG4 (QuickTime compatible) in realtime. Very spiffy little box.

    Hope this helps!
    • I work for a public broadcaster in the Netherlands in the Internet department.

      A) I don't now much about studio lighting so I wont comment on that.

      B) I second the comment about the XL1's we use them, they are very good, only disadvantage we found is the location of the cable connections which cause the cables to get loose occassionely. We also use Sony PD150's these are quite solid as wel. The advantage of the XL1 over the PD150 is the shoulder-rest which makes for steadier shots.

      C) Mackie's are reliable
      • Yes, pay attention to the comment about the connectors and shoulder mounts. The mount makes all the difference.

        Of course, TOP was talking about studio shots, so he probably meant it would be on a dollie. But, still, the XL1 can be outfitted as a wonderful "near-broadcast" camera.
  • That this was VTTV []. Probably cuz the symptoms sound a lot like other VT organizations [] that I've done work with over the years... :-)

    Anyhow - I don't have a lot more to contribute other than that - but I'm sure others will, and I think anyone from around here knows, VTTV could use the help.
  • an air conditioner if the place is so damned hot?
    • Re:What about.. (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Air conditioners are loud. Remember, this is a mic'd environment. Also, the submitter notes the space is cramped -- if they don't have A/C, it's not just like "adding it in".
  • I'm the news director of a small upstate New York tv station, and we're starting the move off of tape, away from analog and onto small, light, and (relatively speaking) cheap cameras.

    We're headed into year one, and we still have lots of interoperability issues.

    Unlike the IT world, where you can buy reasonably priced beige boxes for lots of jobs, everything - and I mean everything - in tv has a proprietary format or twist or connector.

    We're starting with SONY PD-150s, we think. The Canons are nice too, bu
  • Audio Advice (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm more used to working in a theatrical environment, but the principles should be the same:

    Radio Mics: Don't use them. Some brands of radio mics (typically the cheap ones) can pick up interference quite easily - especially from Radio Aids used by the hard of hearing. Another frequent problem I've had with radio mics is when someone goes off camera / off stage they say something like "Man, I really fucked that one up" - and the sound guy has yet to close the mic...

    Another point to make is that XLR wired m
  • Cheap Solution (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Donald ( 525605 )
    My question is this: what would other A/V engineers in my position recommend for cheap solutions?"

    I really can't thnk of any cheap solutions that work well. Most high-quality solutions are priced high for one reason: they can be. Media 100, DVC Pro decks, and ENG cameras can get into the five and six digit ares very quickly. There is a huge leap in cost from pro-sumer to pro equipment, but you will get what you pay for.

    1. Lighting is a very key point in any TV production . I can't get away from using

  • Sounds like you're doing some fun stuff there. I work for MNN cable access [] in NYC. We just finished rebuilding our studio where we just got done dealing with these same issues. I understand joo.

    1> Lighting. This is probably the most important part of making a show look good. I think I'd be doing you a disservice to say "get two inkies, three 5K fresnels, blah blah blah." You should really consider bringing in a good lighting designer who can not only recommend some good fixtures, but who can also p

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