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Case Study: Napa Valley Television, California

Napa Valley Television is the PEG channel serving the Napa Valley, California region, reaching some 30,000 households and a global online audience. The spartan but technically-savvy studios are open to everyone in the community to use for a modest fee, an opportunity that has taken off with the bottomless appetite on social media for polished video.

Executive Director James Raymond describes the station as “YouTube for the community,” a role he sees as furthering First Amendment Rights. Anyone living or working in Napa County can use Napa Valley TV’s 4K studio and HD field equipment to produce TV shows. An $20 annual fee includes full access to a stable of Blackmagic and Sony cameras, Shure, Sennheiser, and DPA microphones, a NewTek TriCaster® TC1 production switcher, 4K TV studio with virtual set and graphics keying capability, a full Adobe Creative Cloud editing workstation, as well as three days of hands-on training and technical backup to learn to use it all. In exchange, Napa Valley TV gets to run member-produced shows on all of its cable channels and both live and on-demand through their website.

Napa Valley TV provides trained staff for government functions, such as local city council, planning commission, and other committee meetings. At election time, they produce “Meet the Candidates” and on Election Day, they cover the results. The station also provided coverage of recent Napa County wild fires along with other public emergencies, as well as special community events. Local nonprofit organizations use their studio facilities to produce and broadcast PSAs for free. Napa Valley TV members produce virtually every kind of programming you can think of, including talk shows, info-rich presentations, musical and dance performances—all within a 192-square foot studio and its adjoining control room and editing suite.

Key to all this flexibility, is a greenscreen wall and powerful virtual set capabilities that are built into the studio’s TriCaster TC1, as well as professional graphics functions and templates for lower thirds and more.

The studio features three Black Magic URSA Mini Pros on E-Image pneumatic tripods with studio viewfinders, tally lights, and Fujinon XK6 20-120mm servo zoom lenses. A Skaarhoj camera control unit (CCU) provides remote control of black levels, iris, color settings, and other camera controls, along with Black Magic SmartScope Duo 4K screens for preview and program waveform monitoring.

Members can shoot in 4K-quality in the studio, which is equipped with NDI®, (NewTek’s Network Device Interface), used to bring the 4K camera sources into the TC1 via two NewTek NC1 Input/Output (I/O) units. The 4K signals then go into any of three Black Magic Teranex Mini 12G-to-Quad-3G converters that convert to quad-split 3G SDI format. The quad-split feeds go into either of two NC1 I/O units where each quadrant of each camera signal is pieced back together into a single image. These NDI camera signals are then available as sources that the members can switch between within the TC1.

In the adjacent production control room, a Behringer X32 digital audio mixer, DVD recorders, and an Eartec UltraLITE wireless headset system anchor the setup. To handle phone lines during live call-ins, Napa Valley TV’s control room also has a JK Audio Innkeeper PBX system, and the TC1 inherently handles calls via Skype for live, remote interviews. The editing cubicle is based upon the Adobe Creative Cloud and can also be used to record voice-overs.

Members also get to check out gear for shooting in the field, including three Sony NX70 1080p HD cameras with 2-input XLR adapters with Manfrotto 501HDV tripods and array of quality microphones.

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