Birmingham, United Kingdom:
As one of the UK’s most creative broadcasters, ITV Central has long brought a compelling mix of breaking news and groundbreaking drama to millions of viewers. Covering the entire Midlands region of England brings its own challenges, and the broadcaster recently set out to improve its remote newsgathering capability with more flexible and effective remote communications. At the heart of the solution is a Symetrix Radius AEC DSP, plus an Attero Tech unDUSB USB-Dante interface.
With its headquarters located in Birmingham, England, ITV Central has maintained a long history of producing influential programming, not least the globally successful television adaptation of Inspector Morse. Its regional news coverage is just as respected, though until recently the station’s ability to liaise with remote reporters was compromised by technology.
“We have a regular need for remote comms,” explains ITV’s Ian Glen. “We put two programs out every day with reporters based in multiple locations. At the end of the day we hold a debrief conversation from those same multiple locations and we were finding that the phone system we were using was unreliable and we had great difficulty in hearing those at the remote end.”
Seeking a solution, the broadcaster engaged leading UK systems integrator Involve Visual Collaboration, Ltd., to create a flexible meeting space. “Our head of news instructed me to look into a solution and that led me to Involve,” recalls Glen. “Initially we were only planning a single room, but the solution fitted our needs so well that we decided to go for two rooms.”
Working with UK Symetrix distributor CUK Audio, Involve has created a two room solution capable of bringing outside sources directly into meetings both reliably and intelligibly. At the heart of the design is a Symetrix Radius AEC which ensures clarity in even the most challenging of circumstances. “ITV required a solution that would enable those in the meeting space to communicate intelligibly via a range of VoIP services including Google Hangouts, with reporters and other staff in remote locations,” says CUK’s Simon Druce, who helped specify the system.
Operation of the Radius AEC is both clutter and hassle free, with a tablet (connected to a wireless access point) allowing users to adjust volumes on a Symetrix ARC-WEB browser interface. Outputs are connected to an amplifier and loudspeakers. The Radius AEC mixes all the remote sources to deliver highly intelligible audio to the room, while hanging mics capture responses and the Radius AEC ensures that all remote users benefit from the same high definition audio. “It’s an ideal solution for this application,” says Druce.
Meeting attendees can also plug in their own devices thanks to the inclusion of an Attero Tech unDUSB USB-Dante interface. “Local users can connect laptops or other mobile devices via USB to the Dante network and use them to call, present, and facilitate a meeting if they prefer to work that way,” Druce continues. “Both USB and VoIP can run concurrently so the Symetrix Radius then becomes a bridge for all parties and allows multi-participant conversations. It’s an elegant, efficient and highly cost-effective solution that ticks all the boxes for ITV Central.”
“It has made the process of group calling so much more efficient and a much nicer experience generally,” agrees Ian Glen. “Previously it could take ages to sort out a meeting, and even then, some people ended up sitting with their backs to the mic and the audio quality was poor. Now, everything is ready to go in minutes, we have proper coverage of the room and the audio is crystal clear at both ends. We’re delighted.”