Azzurro Provides HD Upgrade to RT Channel’s Studio

The Washington Bureau of RT Channel hit the air in January with a totally upgraded facility designed, engineered, and built by Azzurro Systems Integration (ASI). The rapidly growing broadcaster turned to Azzurro to replace antiquated analog and first generation digital technology with an HD ready serial digital infrastructure with embedded audio. Azzurro kept the entire operation completely functional as it transformed RT into a facility with the most advanced and efficient technologies for today and tomorrow’s digital workflow.

RT was established in 2005 to provide a 24/7 English language news, cultural, and social outlet to audiences in more than 100 countries spread over five continents. In 2009 RT decided to expand broadcasting from its Washington Bureau Studios and selected Azzurro to upgrade the technical aspects of the 12-year-old facility located in the former Belo News Bureau. Services included engineering, design, equipment procurement, training, and project management for two studios, two control rooms, ENG equipment for six field crews, newsroom automation, ingest and digital playout, and five Final Cut Pro edit stations. The resulting system addresses broadcast elements throughout RT’s content workflow: from storage, editing, and production through distribution, and includes the transmission of live and recorded program material to RT’s home base in Moscow.

“As soon as I saw the system drawings I happily realized that it was well thought out and designed,” says Mark Bulla, Chief Engineer at RT Washington Bureau. “The Azzurro team was professional and experienced at their work. Scott Buchholz, Azzurro’s director of engineering, and Steve Regina, lead integrator, were personable and open to requests and changes, a welcome change over integrators that I had worked with in the past. I was able to leave the day-to-day installation coordination to Azzurro, and concentrate on learning the new equipment and the systems.”

The news workflow is managed by a Dalet News Production automation solution supported by an Omneon video server with four terabytes of local storage. The Dalet solution interfaces with a sister system in Moscow to facilitate content sharing between locations. Six live shows are transmitted from DC to Moscow daily, where they are integrated in Master Control and returned to the US. Dalet drives the newsroom system, playback, ingest, script management, and on-air prompters.

The two new control rooms are each centered around a Grass Valley Kayak HD300 video production switcher capable of both SD and HD operation, which allows RT to continue their current SD production without upgrade concerns when they eventually transition to full HD. A 256 x 256 Grass Valley Trinix SD/HD router with a new Encore Control system replaced the former unit. A LAWO Nova 17 audio router is connected to a LAWO Zircon XL audio mixing console in each room as well as to the RTS Intercom system.

Six channels of Vizrt news graphics are shared by both control rooms with an individual Viz Content Pilot™ for each. Content, created by Viz Artists™, is shared with Moscow’s Vizrt system via a graphics server. Viz Curious Maps™ are used to create branded maps and geographical animations.

Two studios, each furnished with a 103” Panasonic Plasma panel, were built to accommodate production. Studio One’s display incorporates a U-Touch touch screen overlay allowing FingerWorks™ Telestrator to be used for instant access to all the tools needed for “on air” points. Studio One also has 12 modular 50” DLP displays arranged in a 4×3 video wall with a ICS VW processor. Studio One has five Ikegami HL-EXIII HD cameras, while Studio Two is equipped with three of the same models. Vinten Osprey pedestals and Shotoku TG-18 robotic pan and tilt heads support the cameras.

To satisfy RT’s Electronic News Gathering needs, Azzurro provided six Sony XD camcorders with accompanying Sony PDW-700 recorder playback key, Sony 2” viewfinder, tripod adaptor, shotgun microphone, battery case, lighting and microphone systems.

“This was a complex and international project that Azzurro handled with true professionalism,” stated Mark Angelini, director of operations for RT Washington. “I am grateful for their hard work in making our DC studios a true “state-of-the-art facility. I’m confident that we will continue to use Azzurro’s services in the future.”