Since 2002, the Parliament of Catalonia has produced an institutional television feed as a free public service and educational resource for its citizens and media organizations. Overseen by a tight-knit team of in-house broadcast and engineering specialists, the Barcelona-based Parliament manages all aspects of production and delivers 150 hours of live video content on a monthly basis. Located within the historic Ciutadella Park, the Parliament’s production facilities include eight meeting rooms, seven television control rooms, two dedicated audio studios, a master control room and an editing suite, housing all video equipment required to distribute up to six program feeds to broadcasters, closed-circuit television and web streaming channels. Critical to broadcast operations are a range of AJA solutions for recording, frame synchronization and conversion, including the file-based Ki Pro Rack capture and playback device, the dual-channel FS2 framesync/converter and AJA’s versatile lineup of Mini-Converters.
“To align with the broadcast industry and keep our facility up-to-date, we recently overhauled all operations and upgraded our workflow from SD to HD,” said Daniel Rodriguez Carvajal, Broadcast Engineer, Parliament of Catalonia. “AJA gear was essential in helping us accomplish our main objective of achieving more efficient operation while avoiding an increase in production costs.”
The Parliament’s main recording system is shared with public broadcaster TV3, a local station and production partner that provides its ingest and archiving systems and maintains all hardware and software required for the process through a mutual agreement. This arrangement saves the Parliament money, though the complex system requires software development, hardware integration and IT communication from both parties. During the upgrade to HD, Parliament elected to overhaul its in-house backup recording system and replace an aging fleet of tape-based recording devices. To replace the outdated redundant recorders, Parliament required a flexible and reliable solution for seamless integration into its complex system. The team selected 14 AJA Ki Pro Racks, versatile file-based recorders and players, featuring industry-leading conversion technology for broadcast quality up-, down- and cross-conversion with flexible connectivity in a compact 1RU rackmountable design. “Our new lineup of Ki Pro Racks allow us to effortlessly record up to one whole week of production,” noted Rodriguez Carvajal, “They are reliable, simple to operate remotely and easily fit within the limited amount of space available in our rack room.”
Deployment of the new HD workflow required a pair of external frame synchronizers for use in mobile racks during live productions, especially critical for live outdoor broadcasts and events with no margin for error. To increase frame sync and conversion capacity, Parliament selected a pair of AJA FS2s for high density processing within a compact, rackmountable 1RU form-factor. AJA FS2 offers dual-channel conversion and frame synchronization, with flexible I/O support and power to meet the needs of the most demanding production environments. Each video processing channel can be used separately, effectively benefiting users with the capabilities of working with two different devices, or combined for maximum flexibility.
Additionally, the upgrade required a range of high-quality, standalone conversion solutions to maintain video signal fidelity and power HD conversions between 3G-SDI and HDMI signals and up to 4K/UltraHD 3G-SDI to HDMI 2.0 transformations. The project demanded flexible, compact and easily integrated converters, as many devices were required to be installed in small spaces – such as behind video displays – or connected for temporary conversion needs. AJA’s reputation and portfolio of high-quality, standalone conversion devices compelled Parliament to integrate an assortment of AJA Mini-Converters, including Hi5-Plus and HA5-Plus for 3G-SDI to HDMI and HDMI to 3G-SDI conversions respectively, in addition to Hi5-4K-Plus for pristine 3G-SDI to HDMI 2.0 conversion with support for up to 4K/UltraHD.
AJA gear and all HD-enabled equipment installed during the upgrade was supplied by Crosspoint and facilitates high-end, broadcast-grade production, benefitting operations with increased ease of use and efficiency. Final distribution of six institutional television feeds includes HD-SDI and SD-SDI signals with embedded audio, in addition to CVBS with analog balanced audio. The Parliament delivers an additional six streaming channels for web consumption and eight CCTV feeds for internal use. For onboarding future new equipment, Parliament installed an additional 18 communication nodes alongside the building to enable the team to connect new gear via fiber to any of the facility’s television rooms.
In closing, Rodriguez Carvajal stated, “This was our first experience working with AJA equipment in our facility, and overall it’s been a great success. We’ve benefitted from reliability in critical production workflows, and their gear offers simple integration, flexibility with other workflow devices and robust power in compact form-factor.”