Blog Post

Rebuilding a Broadcast Facility

TV station rebuilds vary in scope and complexity, with the most difficult being a remodel of an existing facility in the midst of ongoing operations. Whether it’s an update of the technical core from SD to HD, the addition of a new automation production system to a production control room, or another project, numerous challenges accompany the in-place station rebuild.

When the engineering team and integrator must establish new equipment and a new workflow in the very same room supporting current operations, they face a variety of logistical issues. While space limitations are one obvious challenge, the task of evaluating and repurposing (or removing) existing equipment and cabling also can be enormous. In addition, providing staff with the opportunity for training and practice prior to the launch of the updated facility is much more difficult in an in-place build than when new systems are set up parallel — in a separate space — with existing equipment and operations.

In some instances, a little bit of creativity can help to alleviate space constraints. For example, we once moved an existing production control room into the broadcast facility’s break room, built up a new one in its place, and then dismantled the temporary installation when the new system went live. In other cases, we put new equipment, such as the switcher tub, in the back of the room so that during practice periods, staff can work with the same monitor wall they use every day. If the broadcaster doesn’t have the resources for all-new consoles, we can build custom insets that allow for a fast switchover from the old equipment to the new.

Repurposing existing equipment within a new installation is a greater challenge. The key lies first in evaluating current systems and determining if they are functional enough to operate during and/or beyond the transition. Once we’ve outlined the goal of the project with the client, we begin work on spreadsheets that document all new and existing elements and how the transition will take place.

Success is 80 percent planning and 20 percent implementation. With extensive exploration and planning, it’s possible to prevent unpleasant surprises. After pooling the knowledge of the on-site engineers who can detail how all existing equipment functions, it pays to test all assumptions, remove any equipment that isn’t in use, and pull any cables that aren’t connected. Sometimes the best course simply is to pull a plug and see if it has the expected impact. Doing a complete and thorough integration includes research and completing a puzzle – getting the right data and applying it to the solution.

Solving this puzzle requires a lot of talk and communication, in part because a rebuild often brings with it a change in how people work, or who does a task. For this reason, it’s a good idea to maximize the amount of staff training and practice, even for a complicated in-place rebuild, and to write this into the project budget. By paying close attention to equipment and workflow and to the personnel responsible for them, we can turn a challenging rebuild into a satisfying success.



Blog Post

Why change from Beck Associates to BeckTV?

Our shift from the name Beck Associates to BeckTV reflects our growth over the past three decades from an engineering services firm into one of North America’s premier engineering and integration services companies. Though we maintain the service-oriented approach typical of a smaller firm, BeckTV is no longer a small company. In fact, we have designed and built more professional television facilities for more customers than any other systems integrator. We have completed projects in virtually every sector, from broadcast and cable networks, local TV stations, sports trucks, and stadium venues to educational institutions, houses of worship, and enterprise media facilities.

BeckTV does projects for companies with yearly revenues in the tens of billions, and we do projects for a call-letter TV station in a town of 50,000. In our dealings with every customer, the unique history and the institutional intelligence we have gained as a service business remain evident in our work.

Unlike competing companies, we maintain our own full-time engineering staff, and we put significant resources into their training, whether they have been with Beck for decades or are coming up in our ranks. Members of our engineering staff are continually attending clinics and earning certifications in the latest technologies being applied in media facilities and mobile production units. We have manufacturers on our premises at least one day out of every week, and they provide demos, discuss their current technologies, and consult with us about ongoing and future product development strategy. We actively pursue knowledge, and it is brought to us by the many vendors and partners with which we’ve worked.

In terms of integration projects themselves, we also take an uncommon approach: We assign a senior engineer to lead each project — to whom audio, video, and intercom technicians report. We provide the customer a single point of contact, and this engineer always has an eye on the complete picture, including the project timeline, design, equipment, and budget. This person is responsible not only for bidding the project, but also for managing the job and bringing it through to completion. If the customer wants specific details about particular systems or functions, this person has the knowledge and expertise to provide that information.

It’s everyone’s job here to go the extra mile for clients, and we do whatever we can to assure they’re satisfied. This has always been the case, and it remains true for the most complex and sophisticated installations, as well as the smallest and simplest jobs. What had changed, however, is that we have built the capacity and experience to accommodate the requirements and resources of every kind of client and every type of project. Our team can tackle any element of a fixed or mobile broadcast facility design. Indeed, I can’t think of one type of television facility that we haven’t built. Our new company name, BeckTV, takes all of this into account, reflecting both our roots as a service firm and our current position as a leader in the engineering and integration field.