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The Next-Generation Master Control

Ennes Workshop Teams With PBS Event; Design Topics Encompass Radio and TV

Ennes Workshop Teams With PBS Event; Design Topics Encompass Radio and TV

For many years, PBS has sponsored a wonderful technology conference in Las Vegas in the days prior to the NAB convention. At the same time, SBE has supported the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust in providing a daylong workshop on the Saturday that kicks off the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC).

Problem was you couldn’t be in two places at once. This year, PBS and SBE have come together to champion the Ennes Workshop, which will constitute the third and concluding day of PBS’s annual three-day Technology Conference.

The Ennes Educational Foundation Trust is a non-profit, charitable organization attached to the Society of Broadcast Engineers. The Trust receives backing from individuals, chapters, manufacturers and broadcast groups. In return, it provides scholarships and educational programs to the broadcast engineering community, and on occasion, the mechanism to collect and distribute funds for special causes, such as a fund for the families of the engineers lost in the World Trade Center disaster.

Harold Ennes wrote the first set of now-classic books for training broadcast engineers, and upon his passing, first the Indianapolis chapter of SBE, and then the national SBE, took on the task of supporting education in his name.


The largest single event that the Ennes Trust sponsors is the Ennes Workshop at NAB. The program is designed to be an intensive tutorial, and the topic is always a reflection of the subject material most needed by front-line engineers all the way through directors and vice presidents of engineering.

A much larger venue at the Las Vegas Convention Center will replace last year’s standing-room-only setting. The Ennes Trust actively seeks out our trainers, and you will note that speakers are overwhelmingly engineers.

This year’s program, which is held the Saturday before the convention and lands on April 16, will cover building the next-generation master control for radio and TV. The day begins with opening remarks at 9 a.m., followed by the first session in which TV Technology’s technology editor, Bob Kovacs, will discuss the basics of design and future-proofing.

If you have ever been asked to schedule your next outage or contemplated the effects of various architectures on reliability, my morning session goes into the tools and rules of thumb needed to calculate real-world facility availability. Five nines, Six-Sigma and MTBF might take a back seat to Ohm’s Law in broadcast engineering, but everything from the subtleties of power supply redundancy to the number of shelf spares has a predictable effect on the stability of a broadcast facility.

Options for master control range from the PBS ACE project, where you’ll get a look under the hood and lessons from one of the first installations from Iowa Public Television’s Director of Engineering Bill Hayes, to surround sound for both radio and TV in the master control room, which will be covered by Omnia Audio President and founder Frank Foti.

Trade tricks

Will data networks replace crosspoint routers? Pro-Bel’s chief technology officer, Neil Maycock, says it’s not “if” but “when,” and we’re already in the midst of the transition.

No one has built more control rooms than Clear Channel, and Senior Vice President of Technical and Capital Management Steve Davis, CSRE, is the man at the helm. Davis will cover Clear Channel’s well-tuned process and tricks of the trade.

Branding has gone from novelty to a mainstream master control function. Leitch’s Steve Sulte, manager of command and control systems applications, covers advances in GPUs (general-purpose graphics processing units) and how this affects the core design and workflow of TV master control rooms.

Fundamental trends in the digital video broadcast domain drive the business toward a compressed IP environment. Terayon’s Michael Adams, vice president of Video Architecture & Technology, will explain how a transition to this environment will result in simple, open standards and inexpensive, scalable, future-proof solutions for the broadcast industry.

And what of SCTE 35/30 and its implications for multichannel spot insertion? Paul Woidke, vice president of technology for Comcast Spotlight, provides instruction on the nuances of everything from stream splice marking and audio and data insertion and substitution under this standard that is fast finding its way into broadcast facilities.

Systems integrators install most new master control rooms, and the Ennes Trust has invited Luke Freeman, senior staff member for solutions development at SignaSys, Inc., and Bill Van Bloom, director of technology for AF Associates / Ascent Media Systems and Technology Services, to address the “dos and don’ts” of construction and design.

The Ennes Workshop requires a full NAB convention registration. SBE members receive a significant discount by registering at the NAB Partner rate, a $300 discount off the NAB non-member rate.

This Ennes program may well be the single most valuable educational event you or your staff can attend this year. I hope to see you there.