On any given day, the studios of Brookline Access Television are abuzz with people and productions, creating and delivering a busy schedule of local programming and services.
BATV is more than just a neighborhood cable access channel, however. The station serves as a nexus for multimedia technology in the community, serving the metro Boston area.
"Public access TV is very strong in the U.S., and as the public has become increasingly sophisticated, people expect a higher level of content," explains Peter Zawadzki, BATV's executive director. "Today's YouTube generation is practically born with a camera attached, and we're not teaching them how to do video so much as how to improve the video they're already doing."
With two local channels in operation 24/7, BATV's dual Mac-based production facilities include 50 HD edit stations equipped with ToolsOnAir's Broadcast Suite workflow. The systems are used for everything from editing classes to on-air content creation.
"We're not the typical user of their (ToolsOnAir’s) system, but it works well for our purposes," he says. "For example, in the standard broadcast scenario, you do not want gaps in your playlist. If you have a gap in your playlist you have a severe issue. In our industry, there are gaps in the playlist. Somebody may produce a show that is 23 minutes long, and the next one may be 28 minutes.
“ToolsOnAir's workflow enabled us to implement a playlist to be able to fill in those gaps with a defined list of public service announcements, or whatever it may be. We were able to adapt the product for our needs."
One of the biggest challenges the ToolsOnAir system has addressed has been the time-consuming need for multiple versions of all content. "We create all our content in HD, but we need to deliver standard definition for local broadcast. We were converting footage to MPEG-2 for broadcast, as well as hi-res H.264 for archiving and low-res H.264 for the Web. Even though it's an automated process, we were spending a tremendous amount of time and resources on it."
Using ToolsOnAir's Broadcast Suite, files can now be completed and uploaded in a single format. "With ToolsOnAir, now we can transcode our finished product into a single media file,” says Zawadzki.