Supporting US-Based Networks with Remote 'Work From Home' Device Control

Since TSL’s acquisition of DNF Controls in April 2019, the US team based out of Northridge, CA, has remained focused on the developing and supporting the Flex Control Network and range of Universal Control Panels.

“We have many customers across the US who use our Flex Control Network for critical production and playout in news-based Hub and Spoke systems that connect network stations. Due to heightened demands in remote broadcasts, we recently altered our R&D to service our Flex customers and assist them in response to the pandemic.” says Fred Scott, regional sales manager US at TSL (and former sales director for DNF Controls). “With many customers working remotely, rather than in-studio, we added a feature called ‘Web Keys’ that, when connected to any Universal Control Panel within the Flex Network, allows users to control devices situated in major hub and spoke installations across the United States from home.”

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Key Considerations for Remote Engineering and Remote Production

The conversation about live production and sport applications today is heavily focused on ‘Remote Production’. The continuing pressure on production budgets will accelerate its deployment.

From a control perspective, remote production is a maturing technology with many deployments where the requirement fits, such as remote news or sports production.

For news, especially in scenarios where it is lower cost or just safer to have engineering and production staff remote from the news studio, this is an attractive solution.

In sports production, it matters most where local production teams can maximise their resources and take control of devices located anywhere, allowing them to save time and investment with solutions that:

  • Are quick and simple to implement.
  • Allow you to take control of your configurations.
  • Simplify and expedite remote command and control over production capabilities.
  • Create seamless workflows that minimise training time and margin for error.

New, powerful tools for remote production also opens up applications for channel delegation, which can all be delivered by using a system built on independent device protocol translation and intuitive interfaces that add flexibility and efficiency to operations.

Partnering this with a screen-based display system that can interface with any of the extensive range of attached third party equipment provides results and eases production via systems that are limited in scope only by imagination.

Remote Engineering Applied

Imagine a scenario where, there are 3 control rooms working to any of 7 studios across multiple sites, alongside an ‘in-field’ team.

The objective of the Advanced Control System is three-fold:

  1. Act as a tally system, tracking the tally status across the 3 PCRs and 7 studios regardless of the associations.
  2. Ability for the operators to easily select live cuts from incoming camera feeds.
  3. One Touch’ production recall, talking to a variety of 3rd party equipment, recall presets required for a particular show at the press of a button.

Additional Control Functions

  • PTZ camera control - Full control over PTZ camera functions including preset store and recall, movement and picture parameters.
  • Studio Delegation - Assign Studios to PCRs with associated routing, tally and control following assignment.
  • Video Routing (confidence monitoring, branding) - Routing and naming control, single cross-point, associated sources, and salvos for studio presets.
  • Audio Control (Mic gain, IFB, routing) - Control over audio routing and channel controls for remote control, studio preset set/recall and back-up control.
  • Lighting Control - Set and recall scenes of a lighting mixer and adjust levels via hardware or virtual control panels.
  • VoIP Control (Dial/Make/End Call) - Use virtual panels to dial, make and end VoIP calls.

Master Control and Playout

Broadcaster and Group Networks that exercise top-level supervision over owned and affiliate stations can benefit from implementing an overarching control layer that addresses:

  • Network growth and aging systems.
  • Allow you to take control of your configurations.
  • Simplify and expedite remote command and control over production capabilities
  • Create seamless workflows that minimise training time and margin for error.
  • Manage content automation, routing, switching, video servers and status monitoring and more.

Additional MCR and Playout Functions

  • Automation Playout & Ingest – Fast, simple and reliable control with scheduled actions and primary, back-up or tertiary automation.
  • SCTE – Break into the afliate’s programming, should national or regional coverage take precedence.
  • Configure Signal Flows – To manage all content and process ows, as well as process automation to dene automatic responses to system changes and critical data sharing.
  • Disaster Recovery – Select and remotely route primary or back-up automation to air.
  • Studio association and failover – Change the associated PCR/Studio association where there is a planned maintenance or equipment failure, failover current routing to different PCR.
  • Operator Controls – Configure routers and monitor walls, directly control Glue, identify signals, incoming lines to steer satellite downlinks, system-wide pre-sets.
  • Cloud Playout – Make cloud-based resources look and act like traditional devices, so that operators can continue to control their cloud playout via the same familiar automation workows and control systems they are used to.