This article appeared in the June 2020 edition of TVBEurope. Philip Stevens looks at the completion of a ten-year project.
Based in Moscow, Vserossiyskaya gosudarstvennaya televizionnaya iradioveshchatelnaya kompaniya (VGTRK, for short), the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company operates five national television stations, two international networks, five radio stations, and over 80 regional TV and radio networks in 53 of Russia’s languages. It offers channels for entertainment, news, sport, children, culture, and documentaries.
Last year it completed a massive upgrade to HD for 30 studios across its 83 regional television stations.
Mix and Match
According to Ilya Lebedev, Chief of Regional TV Systems Department at VGTRK, the upgrade covered a whole raft of equipment. “When it came to cameras, we opted for three makes: Ikegami, Grass Valley and Sony.
In the galleries, there is a combination of Guramex, Ross Video and Grass Valley switchers.”
He goes on to say that this selection of a mixture of equipment continues in other areas of the stations’ operations. “For graphics, we decided to install Bram Technologies TitleStation, Dalet Cube and Ross Video Xpression. These suited our needs when we were looking at the various – and different – requirements across the network.”
Bram Technologies is also the choice when it comes to playout. VGTRK selected the Autoplay systems with Azimuth servers. Around 100 Azimuth video servers were installed over the period of the upgrade programme. That relationship with the company continues with the installation in the newsrooms of Bram Technologies NewsHouse system. In addition, Dalet has provided other newsroom systems for the broadcaster.
For editing, Adobe on PC is the choice. Evertz and Profitt have been selected for the supply of Master Control systems, Sync Pulse Generators (SPG) and Glue. Intercom systems come from RTS and Tract, while gallery Multiviewers comprise models from Evertz, Decimator and Teletor.
A recent completion of the upgrade involved the installation of Calrec Brio36 Audio Consoles. Each of the 30 regional studios is installing a Brio36 as the main console and a Br.IO Stagebox to expand the I/O capacity, along with an Allen & Heath ZED16 as the backup console. The Br.IO Stageboxes are being used for wired and wireless microphones, speakers, and wireless monitoring transmitters.
“The challenge was that we needed an audio console that would work seamlessly across different stations with varying needs over a wide territory,” states Lebedev. “Of course, we’d known of Calrec’s good reputation, and our integration partner, OKNO-TV, suggested using the Brio console for our studio upgrades. The Brio is a vast improvement over what we were previously using in these studios, with superb sound quality. In combination with Calrec’s Br.IO Stageboxes, this expands our capabilities and gives us the flexibility and sound quality that we need across various production formats.”
Lebedev continues, “The functional characteristics and possibilities of the combination of Brio36 and Allen & Heath ZED16 corresponded to the range of our tasks and provided a space for development. As a result, we decided this was the best choice for our use.”
Mike Reddick, International Sales Manager at Calrec provides some further details. “The benefit of the Brio36 is that it is a small form factor broadcast audio console, which offers an immense amount of power in a compact footprint. It is a broadcast specific console, complete with all the features found on Calrec’s larger format consoles. It crams 64 input channels – although this is upgradable to 96, and 36 dual layer faders into less than a metre squared.”
Reddick believes that Brio36 is in a class of its own. “Many of its competitors are multi-purpose consoles, which can be used for live or theatre applications, too, and may not offer the full complement of features demanded by broadcast applications. Brio36 excels as it’s the most powerful broadcast console of its size at this price point.”
He states that Brio36 is suitable for all broadcast applications. “It is as at-home in a studio environment as much as it is in an OB truck. It has been tried and tested for many applications including sports, news, flypacks, esports, education facilities and it is also very popular with broadcast rental companies. It is an immensely flexible tool that has proven to be the go-to solution for many in this industry sector.”
Earlier, Lebedev mentioned the benefits of the combination of Brio36 and Allen & Heath ZED16. How do these advantages play out? “Allen & Heath and Calrec are sister companies and together with DiGiCo and SSL form the Audiotonix group,” says Reddick. “All the companies in the group are leaders in their fields, and high-quality products are key to its success. The Allen & Heath ZED16 was the obvious choice for this install as it fulfilled all the requirements and it was guaranteed to have the same meticulous build quality and reliability that Calrec’s consoles are renowned for. It was great to be able to offer a complete Audiotonix solution for the main and backup consoles.”
Reddick concludes, “All the VGTRK regions are configured and monitored by a central team of specialists based in Moscow. This presents a challenge due to the sheer distances involved. For example, the region of Anadyr is over 6000km from Moscow and nine-time zones apart. Within Russia, this upgrade is seen as one of the most
significant long-term projects.”
Lebedev adds, “It was a challenge to work to a single, overall technological ideology, along with common installation processes, across such a vast area and so many companies. This unity of purpose also had to be maintained across this entire 10-year project. But the results speak for themselves and enhance the viewer experience, our ultimate aim.”