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That kind of networkable workflow extends throughout the facility. On the main floor, just off the lobby, is an auditorium seating approximately 120 people. It's equipped with a performance stage, acoustical clouds and vaulted ceilings. Lighting trusses have been installed integral to the vaulted ceilings to accommodate lighting for video recordings. The auditorium has huge doors opening to a park next door, so when we do concerts or special events, we open the doors for overflow into the park. We encourage people to visit and be part of the experience.
The Wheatstone AoIP network allows us to broadcast live performances to air, or record them for later broadcast, really from anywhere in the facility. For larger performances, we use a Behringer X32 console. It also has IP based properties. Instead of the traditional bulky multi-wire snake, it uses a CAT-6 cable from console to stage. For broadcasts, a smaller IP-12 console is used. A Blade handles all interfaces between the two, including GPIO tally control.
Bulkheads are installed at key locations throughout the facility, making operations plug and play. These bulkheads are CAT-6 patch panels able to not only accommodate the AoIP network but Internet and VoIP connections. These are also color coded to avoid confusion. Red is for AoIP, white for telephone, blue for Internet, and green for anything else that might be required. All these can be patched in the TOC (technical operations center).
For special events we essentially built a control room on wheels. It has all the gear required for broadcast from anywhere in the building, including our fifth floor patio terrace overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. All that is required is one CAT-6 cable plugged into the bulkhead patch-bay and we're on the air. Phone, laptop, automation control can also be patched in the same way. If we happen to be doing a remote broadcast for example, the audio codec or phone hybrid can be dialed up on the surface.
We worked closely with Kelly Parker, Wheatstone's systems engineer, to set up standardized talkbacks between all studios, so any studio or control room has talkback capability. If we record out of Control Room 3, for example, we can talk to the performance center, or if we record to air, we can also talk to the performance center or Studio A -- GPIO control just follows. It's all universal. In the old Jasper building, something like this would have been a nightmare to put together, and would have required an engineer on staff to pull off. Now if there's a Saturday performance, I no longer have to ask one of my staff to be available on his day off.
The beauty of WheatNet-IP AoIP is that announcers can dial up the equipment they need from the surface. If an announcer in a production room wants to dial up a specific microphone or other room, it's just a matter of calling it up on the LX-24 console. WheatNet-IP is not just a routing system. That control layer in WheatNet-IP gives us control of all the elements. We can route and control through the system any of the audio codecs we use for remotes, for example. We can route and turn on/off any of the BBC satellite feeds that we need, anywhere. We have total flexibility. The WheatNet-IP has custom scripting capability, and eventually I want to use that to mirror the two primary control rooms for backup purposes. The two have GP16 panels, and we can write scripting so that if one control room fails, the other will take over automatically.
- continued on page 5
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