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Steve Williams2,845 posts since 1 Aug 2008
On a serious note does anyone there monitor the output, where’s the quality control even with out of date equipment it shouldn’t get to air like this.


I think this is a bit unfair, for all we know there could have been a technical problem and the options were either this dodgy bodge job or no graphics at all, and they decided the former was more acceptable. As has been mentioned in this thread, many of the regions are pushing their existing resources to the limit, so to cast doubt on their professionalism doesn't seem to be very fair.

Judge the quality of a news programme on its journalism, not some wonky graphics.
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dosxuk4,230 posts since 22 Oct 2005
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
On a serious note does anyone there monitor the output, where’s the quality control even with out of date equipment it shouldn’t get to air like this.


I think this is a bit unfair, for all we know there could have been a technical problem and the options were either this dodgy bodge job or no graphics at all, and they decided the former was more acceptable. As has been mentioned in this thread, many of the regions are pushing their existing resources to the limit, so to cast doubt on their professionalism doesn't seem to be very fair.

Judge the quality of a news programme on its journalism, not some wonky graphics.


Round here though people would much rather they stick a technical fault slide up while they pause the bulletin to reload the graphic templates to get the correct ones on screen, rather than carrying on and having a discussion after to find out what went wrong.

I find it very amusing that some people (and by no means is this limited to this forum) think production teams have no idea what's actually being broadcast and carry on in the blind without a care in the world when things are obviously going wrong on the output.
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noggin14,596 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Bristol, Birmingham and Southampton have had new vision mixers owing to the original GVG Zodiak desks reaching end of life. Oxford took some gallery kit from BBC Manchester after NW moved to Salford and replaced their original GVG Pres mixer.

Let's not forget as well that a lot of the VMs that have replaced the 'Project England' kit across the regions are HD capable, it's the backend and cameras that often aren't, as well streams. It's an easy operation to replace kit in a gallery and studio but if they can't send things to transmission/transmit in HD it's fruitless.

Birmingham's GVG Kula 3 can manage UHD, but the cameras and output streams can't even manage 720p, along with most of the aparatus in the apps room.


Yep - some regions now have HD-capable cameras and/or vision mixers, and I think all main regions now have HD-capable GVG/SAM/Quantel servers for playout. They have had HD-capable location cameras for quite a long time (may even be on 2nd generation in some cases).

However a station is more than the sum of its parts - the glue (particularly up/down conversion), main router/matrix, monitoring, and dull stuff like building cabling etc. all need to be upgraded for HD working, and there needs to be a route to actually get that HD content to the audience at home (or you end up with another London, Plymouth or Salford)

NB 720p and 1080i are almost always supported by the same kit so 720p isn't seen as a 'lower spec' format than 1080i in production terms. (It's actually 1080p25 that is usually the additional cost option, or in some cases the format that isn't supported)

Quote:

I don't really talk to many people in the industry (though a few I went to school with went into that field) and the Kula IP model is being considered as part of the 'ViLOR' style shift in the regions (along with others, obviously full tendering process will need to take place)

If a 2110/2022-7 style remote production solution like ViLOR is in the mix, then the Kula is a good fit, though a more radical solution would be Kula panels at the regional centres (if they have any) with multiple regions sharing a Kahuna 9600 or similar (there's no reason to dedicate a mixer-per-region now if you can accommodate enough inputs and outputs and ME-bank/DME requirements for multiple regions in a single crate, other than 'eggs in baskets' arguments)

Quote:

Incidentally I found out that Birmingham replaced their Aston CG with CasparCG. Will other regions follow suit or is it a case of if it still works (and reads floppies) the astons are staying?


Yes - I think that has been widely regarded as a good solution, but with the impending decision about ER upgrades, rolling out new gear into lots of regions has been paused (wouldn't be good to roll out CasparCG everywhere, then replace it 12 months later)
Rkolsen2,879 posts since 20 Jan 2014
BBC World News
Birmingham’s CasparCG project again was a trial to see how capable the system was at fitting within existing production kit (and the answer was positive) but roll out elsewhere is on pause because of the other project to replace all kit with a new template. Some other regions are using Caspar for GFX playout replacing other end of life gear, but are not replacing Astons unless they have to.

Is CasparCG something there for long term use or as a stop gap until more firm plans evolve?
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.
harshy6,225 posts since 24 Mar 2001
On a serious note does anyone there monitor the output, where’s the quality control even with out of date equipment it shouldn’t get to air like this.


I think this is a bit unfair, for all we know there could have been a technical problem and the options were either this dodgy bodge job or no graphics at all, and they decided the former was more acceptable. As has been mentioned in this thread, many of the regions are pushing their existing resources to the limit, so to cast doubt on their professionalism doesn't seem to be very fair.

Judge the quality of a news programme on its journalism, not some wonky graphics.

That’s a fair point but it shouldn’t have got to the stage where regions are using equipment too old that it should have been retired years ago.
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Markymark7,215 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
On a serious note does anyone there monitor the output, where’s the quality control even with out of date equipment it shouldn’t get to air like this.


I think this is a bit unfair, for all we know there could have been a technical problem and the options were either this dodgy bodge job or no graphics at all, and they decided the former was more acceptable. As has been mentioned in this thread, many of the regions are pushing their existing resources to the limit, so to cast doubt on their professionalism doesn't seem to be very fair.

Judge the quality of a news programme on its journalism, not some wonky graphics.

That’s a fair point but it shouldn’t have got to the stage where regions are using equipment too old that it should have been retired years ago.


It's sort of always been the case, perhaps it stems from the English regions being launched in the 60s as a haphazard response to ITV's local presence, and being somewhat cobbled together set ups.

I can certainly remember BBC South regularly (once a week) falling off the air, or not opting at all in the 70s

Things have certainly improved since then!
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deejay2,930 posts since 5 Jan 2003
Central (South) Oxford
Things tend to only been replaced when they’ve literally broken beyond repair or there’s a pot of money for a trial and a region benefits from it. There’s very much an “if it ain’t broke” mentality and the regions do very well keeping ancient kit going. Before ViLoR most local radio stations were using Mark III desks, a classic BBC in-house designed mixing desk. As I understand it, they were all constructed and deployed centrally starting in the late 70s-80s as local radio stations came on stream. (There was a Mark IV but only a few sites got them). These wonderful desks soldiered on right up until the end. However the engineers keeping them going had to form a very vibrant group within the BBC trading spares, parts and components. A few stations were left with only one operational desk by the very end.
TV isn’t quite the same but there’s still a make do and mend philosophy when it comes to things like Astons. When the thirty year old one I use broke recently (the power supply failed - which isn’t really surprising after thirty years 24/7 use) we scouted around and found a couple being thrown out from BBC Cardiff. Replaced power supply, threw the switch and it’s back in daily use again.

It’s a rash generalisation but kit built in that era is incredibly resilient and easy to fix if you can find the spares.
Kit purchased in the 2000s, tends instead to be PC based and is much more dependent on the quality of the PC it’s based on, the operating system and whether it’s updateable and supported.
Two minutes regions...
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Steve Williams2,845 posts since 1 Aug 2008
That’s a fair point but it shouldn’t have got to the stage where regions are using equipment too old that it should have been retired years ago.


But as mentioned, newer equipment is just as prone to failure. I remember reading in the nineties that HTV West had invested in a new computer system that was so unreliable they had to do a complete rehearsal of the main evening bulletin before it and if they deviated from the planned running order at any point it would completely crash. Bob Monkhouse always used to say that when they started The Golden Shot from the old ATV studios in Birmingham it was a technical nightmare because the equipment was so antiquated, and then when they moved to new studios if anything it got worse as nobody knew how the new equipment worked.

Like any high-pressured, fast-turnaround job it's bound to be a bit frantic behind the scenes and there are probably myriad things on any news bulletin that have been scrambled together at the last minute, and sometimes the technology will fail and they'll have to bodge something together. Most of the time we don't notice it. But the important thing is to get on air.

It's not fair to assume there's "no quality control" and someone is just lazily pressing buttons without caring.
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Steve in Pudsey10,347 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Before ViLoR most local radio stations were using Mark III desks, a classic BBC in-house designed mixing desk. As I understand it, they were all constructed and deployed centrally starting in the late 70s-80s as local radio stations came on stream. (There was a Mark IV but only a few sites got them). These wonderful desks soldiered on right up until the end.


As well as the Mark IV anything refurbished or moving since the early 200s and until ViLor got Calrec digital desks. These have all been replaced by ViLoR but in sites like Nottingham, Leeds and Hull would have been installed a the same time as the TV installation.
Write that down in your copybook now.
Markymark7,215 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
Before ViLoR most local radio stations were using Mark III desks, a classic BBC in-house designed mixing desk. As I understand it, they were all constructed and deployed centrally starting in the late 70s-80s as local radio stations came on stream. (There was a Mark IV but only a few sites got them). These wonderful desks soldiered on right up until the end.


As well as the Mark IV anything refurbished or moving since the early 200s and until ViLor got Calrec digital desks. These have all been replaced by ViLoR but in sites like Nottingham, Leeds and Hull would have been installed a the same time as the TV installation.


It's not just the Beeb BTW, I think Belfast's ILR Downtown Radio (lost track what it's called now) were still using their original 1976 desks into this decade ?
London Lite10,795 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London
Before ViLoR most local radio stations were using Mark III desks, a classic BBC in-house designed mixing desk. As I understand it, they were all constructed and deployed centrally starting in the late 70s-80s as local radio stations came on stream. (There was a Mark IV but only a few sites got them). These wonderful desks soldiered on right up until the end.


As well as the Mark IV anything refurbished or moving since the early 200s and until ViLor got Calrec digital desks. These have all been replaced by ViLoR but in sites like Nottingham, Leeds and Hull would have been installed a the same time as the TV installation.


It's not just the Beeb BTW, I think Belfast's ILR Downtown Radio (lost track what it's called now) were still using their original 1976 desks into this decade ?


Still called Downtown Radio. They have a sister station Cool FM which replaced Downtown on the Belfast FM frequency in 1990, while Downtown continues on AM in Belfast and FM across the rest of NI.