« Topics
1234...91011
noggin13,615 posts since 26 Jun 2001
No, what I am arguing is that the problem should have been in their control, not having the building or at least the transmission critical elements protected by a working Battery UIPS backup seems lax.


UPSs don't last forever when you have to run broadcast kit on them (remember when they did the Six on the UPS and it fell off-air before it finished?) - if you have the option of decamping it may be the better choice - particularly if the key infrastructure for replicating facilities off-site IS UPSed or backed up off-site.

Running studio lights off UPS is not likely. Doing a green-screen virtual studio without decent studio lighting isn't possible (you can't key off green screen lit with houselights...)
DVB Cornwall7,571 posts since 4 Dec 2003
Westcountry Spotlight
I appreciate that argument Noggin, but if they are suggesting that the power was intermittent and that a standby power plant was 'warming up' then I would have thought that the UPS would survive, I should imagine it would have been designed for 60 minutes use anyway, with the battery suite in the basement. The life of the UPS being extended if necessary by selective power withdrawal as appropriate to non critical areas

I've experience of a major telecoms installation being equipped with such suites and UPS equipment located around the complex. It's not too difficult to achieve continuous power in such cases as those described at ITN last night.

I suspect that in the case of ITN the synchronisation failed or the UPS wasn't online for maintenance or other reasons.

I doubt we'll never know the full explanation for last night.
deejay2,734 posts since 5 Jan 2003
Central (South) Oxford
Attempting a broadcast with an intermittent power supply is extremely difficult. On the one hand you have mains electricity some of the time and can work normally preparing as much as you can should the worst happen ... and then you have a power dip or momentary cut and it's enough to lose lots of data, send technical equipment into lengthy boot-up routines and even kill sensitive bits of kit that rarely gets turned off. It's unpredictable and hard to plan for.

Often due to the high power demands of TV studios, UPS will maintain only select bits of the set up to get a simple programme on air - one camera, some low energy lights (soft studio flourescent fill lamps can provide enough light for modern cameras at less than 100W: a single tungsten key lamp can be 1kW at the least), an autocue hood and PC, a small gallery, maybe one edit suite for playout. If you need to plan to move a programme as complex as News at Ten into a studio with only limited kit it's a tall order to say the least in terms of planning, let alone logistics,

I am sure there will be a steward's enquiry into this incident, but the programme looked perfectly acceptable and as far as a Broadcasting Contingency exercise goes, was a triumph.
Two minutes regions...
Inspector Sands12,474 posts since 25 Aug 2004
It isn't a great idea taking the decision to go to air if the power is unstable or likely to fail again, it's just asking for trouble. In some cases the UPS/generator combination is just enough to keep essential kit running or give you enough time to shut everything down. Running lights, air con and other high powered items just isn't feasible.

If you've a studio down the road which is fully powered and you can use then it makes sense to go there rather than risk the broadcast. That's what they did and they got a news bulletin out.... and that's all that matters. It looked to me like a textbook contingency plan, which is unusual as no matter how many times you plan they don't always go so smoothly
noggin13,615 posts since 26 Jun 2001
I appreciate that argument Noggin, but if they are suggesting that the power was intermittent and that a standby power plant was 'warming up' then I would have thought that the UPS would survive, I should imagine it would have been designed for 60 minutes use anyway, with the battery suite in the basement. The life of the UPS being extended if necessary by selective power withdrawal as appropriate to non critical areas


60 minutes of power for a fully lit TV studio is one hell of a UPS - and if the power starts failing more than 30 minutes before a live broadcast that lasts 30 minutes, you'd be stuffed.

As I said before - many TV operations will only fully UPS the IT kit that can't be allowed to fall over - but the broadcast kit (lighting particularly) that you can't broadcast without, but you can produce off-site without, will not be UPSed (or not to the same degree).

You will probably have a UPS that allows power to be maintained for a very short period during a change-over from mains to generator power to cope with the generators running up once the mains power has dropped out, but this isn't the same as coping with the generators failing, and wouldn't be suggested as a solution for fully powering an operation for production.
DVB Cornwall7,571 posts since 4 Dec 2003
Westcountry Spotlight
I'll dropout of this now, but I am thinking of a more extensive UPS than you are, the kind I am imagining being capable of powering the entire building, not just the studios, hence the basement location for the extensive battery suite and controllers.

(I've tried to EM you Noggin, but the EM System fails to send)
thegeek4,509 posts since 1 Jan 2002
London London
Running studio lights off UPS is not likely. Doing a green-screen virtual studio without decent studio lighting isn't possible (you can't key off green screen lit with houselights...)
You can get reasonable results with retroreflective cloth and a ring of green LEDs around the lens, plus possibly some domestic halogens - cf the BBC Tours 'studio' in the basement of TVC. Some remote studios in places like investment banks use a similar setup, though with slightly more professional key lights.

That said, I'm not sure how suitable it would be for broadcasting - I'd still go for the option of the studio down the road with a more stable power supply.

(incidentally, the power supply at GIR must have been pretty shonky to warrant decamping to 4 Millbank, a building not famed for a reliable power supply.)
noggin13,615 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Running studio lights off UPS is not likely. Doing a green-screen virtual studio without decent studio lighting isn't possible (you can't key off green screen lit with houselights...)
You can get reasonable results with retroreflective cloth and a ring of green LEDs around the lens, plus possibly some domestic halogens - cf the BBC Tours 'studio' in the basement of TVC. Some remote studios in places like investment banks use a similar setup, though with slightly more professional key lights.

That said, I'm not sure how suitable it would be for broadcasting - I'd still go for the option of the studio down the road with a more stable power supply.

(incidentally, the power supply at GIR must have been pretty shonky to warrant decamping to 4 Millbank, a building not famed for a reliable power supply.)


Retroflective cloth is OK for down-the-line type studios (the BBC NY single-camera studio uses it). However it needs over/above-camera autocue to work - as you need to run with LED ring lighting for good results.

Not suitable for big news studios - particularly set-ups like ITN's where you also project guide images onto the CSO backdrop.
Mike W4,785 posts since 30 Apr 2006
Running studio lights off UPS is not likely. Doing a green-screen virtual studio without decent studio lighting isn't possible (you can't key off green screen lit with houselights...)
You can get reasonable results with retroreflective cloth and a ring of green LEDs around the lens, plus possibly some domestic halogens - cf the BBC Tours 'studio' in the basement of TVC. Some remote studios in places like investment banks use a similar setup, though with slightly more professional key lights.

That said, I'm not sure how suitable it would be for broadcasting - I'd still go for the option of the studio down the road with a more stable power supply.

(incidentally, the power supply at GIR must have been pretty shonky to warrant decamping to 4 Millbank, a building not famed for a reliable power supply.)


Retroflective cloth is OK for down-the-line type studios (the BBC NY single-camera studio uses it). However it needs over/above-camera autocue to work - as you need to run with LED ring lighting for good results.

Not suitable for big news studios - particularly set-ups like ITN's where you also project guide images onto the CSO backdrop.


Yes, See the BBC Birmingham Public Space: *, The autocue is higher than the camera and it means the presenter is not looking into the camera. Interestingly, they use that for breakfast and weekend weather bulletins. They can switch it through to the gallery.
Oh it's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you...
Westy24,345 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Running studio lights off UPS is not likely. Doing a green-screen virtual studio without decent studio lighting isn't possible (you can't key off green screen lit with houselights...)
You can get reasonable results with retroreflective cloth and a ring of green LEDs around the lens, plus possibly some domestic halogens - cf the BBC Tours 'studio' in the basement of TVC. Some remote studios in places like investment banks use a similar setup, though with slightly more professional key lights.

That said, I'm not sure how suitable it would be for broadcasting - I'd still go for the option of the studio down the road with a more stable power supply.

(incidentally, the power supply at GIR must have been pretty shonky to warrant decamping to 4 Millbank, a building not famed for a reliable power supply.)


Retroflective cloth is OK for down-the-line type studios (the BBC NY single-camera studio uses it). However it needs over/above-camera autocue to work - as you need to run with LED ring lighting for good results.

Not suitable for big news studios - particularly set-ups like ITN's where you also project guide images onto the CSO backdrop.


Yes, See the BBC Birmingham Public Space: *, The autocue is higher than the camera and it means the presenter is not looking into the camera. Interestingly, they use that for breakfast and weekend weather bulletins. They can switch it through to the gallery.


I must admit I wondered where the non MT main studio forecasts came from. I thought they just rigged something up at the back of the newsroom. Never thought they'd actually use the Public Space facillity?