A PEG TV Setup, Part 2

PEG stations are taking TV broadcasting super local. Public access, education and government all have a window to the community at Portland Community Media. 1/16/2014 6:40 AM Eastern

A PEG TV Setup, Part 2

Jan 16, 2014 11:40 AM, With Bennett Liles

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PEG stations are taking TV broadcasting super local. Public access, education and government all have a window to the community at Portland Community Media. Bea Coulter and Jason Tait are back to tell us about their LED lighting and other recent technical upgrades, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

Bea Coulter and Jason Tait from Portland Community Media. In part one we were talking about your upgrade to LED lighting and with funding and working with volunteer staff, upgrades can be tough to come by. You actually have some paid staff there and some PEG stations might consider that to be, you know, kind of a luxury. But it’s great to have people there who started as volunteers and know how things work there. We talked about the LED lighting but what other gear have you installed as part of the migration to HD?

Bea: Well, we’ve upgraded – gosh, it’s been – practically we’ve refreshed all of our equipment. We have replaced all of our field cameras with JVC – with the 200s and 700s, although we’ll be replacing those again in the next fiscal year. So we haven’t decided what we’re gonna go with there yet.

Jason: Yeah, our initial upgrade started with our field cameras and we’ve gone through a few version updates since then. We started off with the JVC 250 cameras and then we sort of moved on to the larger 700 and the 150 from JVC. Like I say, those came well before any of the upgrades to the studio or our master control. It’s just luckily where the project for buying cameras landed; might as well go to HD.

Bea: Well, and so since then we’ve upgraded our production truck, our city hall field site production facility. We’ve upgraded both of our studios and our master control, and through all of these locations we’ve moved away from tape. We have solid-state recording systems in all of these facilities, so it’s kind of that transition from analog to digital to HD and all of the stuff that goes along with that. [Timestamp: 2:33]

Well, it may be a good thing that you didn’t come into new cameras and new lighting gear at the same time. That might be a little bit of a challenge to get the two adjusted so they look right together.

Jason: In the industry, we call that a white balance. That was pretty much it. We actually had the Hitachi rep come in and give us an in-depth training on how to work with the cameras. We really didn’t make much of a change to the cameras themselves on how they reproduce color. It was really that simple as hit the white balance button. [Timestamp: 3:02]

It was probably a lot simpler in terms of powering it all and hanging it on the lighting grid. The old stuff you mentioned in part one had to be a lot bigger and heavier to handle.

Bea: Yes, definitely.

Jason: The interesting thing about the lighting installation was we went through a, well I wouldn’t say an upgrade, but an update of our lighting system, I don’t know how many years back, to where we put dimmers on the lights. In the way, way back days it was a light switch – a breaker switch, on/off. Then we got to a dimmer and we needed to install a whole new electrical system to allow for that dimmer system to be used. And then lo and behold with the LED upgrade, we actually went back to the original electrical outlets, which was kind of funny.

Bea: Yeah, but we have far fewer circuit breakers now for that grid.

Jason: Yes. [Timestamp: 3:50]

Kind of hard to do any subtle nuance with just circuit breakers.

Bea: In the old system, we had a couple of 2Ks that were donated to us from our local NBC affiliate that had hung in the NBC Burbank facility about 50 years ago. We’re gonna turn a couple of those into end tables in our lobby. [Timestamp: 4:08]

A PEG TV Setup, Part 2

Jan 16, 2014 11:40 AM, With Bennett Liles

Well that would make an interesting conversation piece and at least not using any power for that job. Things can get a little dicey when you mix people with new gear and I think you said there were a couple of training sessions, but you probably have to do that as all the new gear is phased in.

Jason: Yes. I mean the staff obviously needs to know the ins and outs and the what-to-do-when-things-go-wrong parts of their equipment, and they need to know that prior to the public or the public producers getting ahold of it and coming to them with those questions, and the staff not being able to answer.

Bea: Part of the project we had our vendor from Integrated Lighting Systems, Rob Boltinghouse, in to train our community producers as well. So we did a nice session with our community producers and they had a great time and they learned a lot during that training session. [Timestamp: 4:58]

Bea, I believe that in part one you mentioned the Energy Trust of Oregon and their rebates and incentives that were such a big help on this project. How did that work?

Bea: We worked with Advanced Broadcast Solutions, with Shawn Sennett from ABS, and Shawn made this happen for us. That was a wonderful thing. Essentially there’s a lot of technical paperwork that needs to be filled out to apply for these incentives through the Energy Trust of Oregon, and Shawn took it upon himself to basically help PCM make it through this process. We couldn’t have done it without him. It was really, really excellent and it got us an incentive of $21,000.00 at the end of the project. [Timestamp: 5:38]

And the minute you start using the new LED lighting gear you start saving not only on their operating cost but on the HVAC power for cooling the studio as well. Was it noticeably cooler in the studio with the LED lighting gear running?

Bea: Yes, definitely it was noticeable particularly with that – you know, we have this – we have high ceilings and we have this massive AC unit on the room. You can hear – the walls practically shake when that thing comes on. And not having that as part of the background noise of your show was a pretty cool thing. [Timestamp: 6:07]

You’ve had a series of upgrades. You had your master control newly equipped and so you have to break the staff in not only on the new lighting gear but on everything as it comes online. Do you tend to train people to do all the production jobs and rotate positions or do some people just prefer to specialize in one or two jobs?

Bea: So our community producers, they tend to specialize – although we do have a handful of producers who can do anything – they tend to specialize. And so we do get some people who are very knowledgeable about particular aspects of the production environment. Our staff, also though, they have to learn everything because ultimately they’re going to teach – our media education staff is going to teach our other staff and they’re going to teach all of our community producers how to make all of this happen. [Timestamp: 6:51]

And of course we talked about your newer field cameras. It’s not all done in the studio so when you go out on remotes what sort of programming do you have that’s field based?

Jason: Practically everything. The majority of our field service productions are mobile productions. We’re either using a mobile production vehicle, which is a truck with five cameras that is very flexible, to our mobile units. We have one multi-camera unit for the public to use, which is fairly new for us, and we have a few for fee-for-service projects usually covered with a skeleton crew; three-camera shoots, usually four people, and it’s usually for our long-form meetings. [Timestamp: 7:32]

That’s great to be able to go out into the local community because the people can see you out there and they’re naturally going to be curious to see what you’ve been shooting when they’ve seen you on the remotes.

Jason: That’s the hope.

Do you have any more equipment upgrades planned to sort of continue the process?
Bea: We’re reaching the end of the major upgrades that we needed to get ourselves onto our new HD channels. The next upgrade that we’re looking at is really more about broadband. It’s building a multimedia lab at the front end of our building to work on that aspect of the technology training that we do here. So we’re really kind of approaching the end of this process, although you never really stop, it seems like. [Timestamp: 8:13]

Technology rolls on and it’s a never ending game to stay on top of it. Sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress and it’s been fun to hear about it. Bea Coulter and Jason Tait from Portland Community Media out on the west coast. Thanks so much for being with us.

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