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United Provides its Clients with a Broad Package of Services in New State-of-the-Art Facility

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United Provides its Clients with a Broad Package of Services in New State-of-the-Art Facility
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United Provides its Clients with a Broad Package of Services in New State-of-the-Art Facility
Description
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United is a full service organization which provides technical and creative support services for multimedia audio-visual productions for many European markets, including Holland, Germany, Belgium, the UK, France and Italy. It is also the biggest facilitator of audio-visual productions in the Netherlands and is Holland’s second largest broadcast post operation. Serving producers, broadcasters, and corporations, United oers a wide range of facilities and services, from visual material access, graphic design, post-production and editing, multi-cam OB vehicles, SNG uplinks and its own sets and props division too. Based in Hilversum, the Netherlands, United is strategically located in Hilversum Media Park, where a number of other Dutch broadcasters and media companies are based.

United has built a thriving business and boasts some very high pro!le production credits such as the Olympic Games (London, Vancouver, Beijing, Torino), Football (Champions League - Austria / Netherlands / Germany / Italy / France and World Games), Golf (Ryder Cup), Cycling (Tour de France), Television (”Big Brother”– various countries and “So You Think You Can Dance” ), Music Events and Concerts (Coldplay in Paris, Andre Bocelli in Italy, Andre Rieu in the Netherlands). They owe their success to some basic philosophies: innovative solutions with quality customer service and "exibility. Their dedication to customer’s needs and providing state-of-the-art facilities out!tted with the most advanced technologies are the driving forces behind their success and their ability to expand their position in a strong and quickly-developing market.

In a this highly competitive market, United retains its leading edge by implementing reliable technologies that production clients want to work with and that are "exible enough to handle any project that comes through the door. The technologies also have to be easy to use and maintain, and be reliable and durable so the studio realizes a full return on investment. This was precisely the thinking of Marc Ruesen, Manager Business Development, and his engineering team at United when the decision was made to consolidate a large number of its business units under one roof and build a new high-de!nition (HD) main production studio.

Challenge and Requirements

An older monument building known as the Music Pavilion in Hilversum Media Park would be the site of a new studio, and with this came a very aggressive build-out schedule with a long list of requirements and an extensive investment in the very latest IT technology. They were essentially starting with a clean slate, and Marc knew that the top priority would be to upgrade from a copper video routing and extension technology infrastructure. Since this would be the rst time in the company’s history that all colleagues and all services would now work together at one site, it was very important to create open work?ow possibilities between studios and editing suites and nd a video and KVM routing and extension system that could easily integrate into their Virtual Studio Manager control system.

A copper based KVM routing and extension system had been deployed for editing applications within their post-production environment. This system had limited bandwidth, resulting in images and video being delivered to destinations in a compressed format, resulting in a loss of synchronization, loss of pixels and processing latency. “We knew we needed a more reliable and robust system that did not have the ine!ciencies that our copper system had, such as ghosting e"ects on images,” Ruesen says. United knew that the quality of the images they produce for their clients was of paramount importance and it was critical to nd a system that provided them with the most pristine video quality. In addition, their copper system had distance limitations which restricted work?ow possibilities. “We had to co-locate most of our sources and destinations in a conned area and this limited our services in client-facing suites,” said Ruesen. “For example, if we needed to perform color correction the client needed to move to a different location.”

In order to offer clients an even broader package of services Marc sought to ensure that work?ows became one optimally integrated process. The new building would have multiple production areas which would include editing suites, live production studios, color grading and graphics workstation areas. “We needed to have the ?exibility of being able to send sources to all of these destinations, and our various systems needed to access content from a multitude of sources,” said Ruesen. It was also critical that he supply the best system integration and control interfaces to all essential broadcast and editing equipment. “We had been using Virtual Studio Manager to control a majority of our broadcasting equipment, including video and audio routers and switches,” explains Ruesen. “It was very important that any new systems be able to seamlessly integrate into this control system.”

The Solution

Marc Ruesen and his team reviewed a wide range of KVM and video routing and extension solutions from several manufacturers. He felt that the Thinklogical !ber-based solution was the one that "!t like a glove" because it provided the highest bandwidth available and could be quickly and easily deployed. The entire video and KVM transport system was then designed around Thinklogical’s VX160 KVM and video router. An important factor in the decision to use the VX router was its ability to support all source signals: DVI, RGB, SDI, HD-SDI, USB 1.1, USB 2.0, RS-422 and audio.

Along with VX160 Router, Thinklogical Velocity T-Series and SDI Xtreme transmitters and receivers were used to transmit high resolution video (DVI, RGB, 3G SDI), peripheral and audio signals throughout the facility. The T-Series extension systems that were chosen allowed United to free up rack space and provided for multiple video interfaces to reside in one unit (DVI, RGB and 3G SDI). To extend SDI video signals and RS-422 camera signals United deployed Thinklogical’s SDI Xtreme 3G Plus extenders. The VX router coupled with the extension systems provide up to 6.25 Gbps of transport bandwidth. This maintained pristine signal integrity, allowing for uncompressed video with no frame dropping or ghosting eects on images. All of these solutions were easily integrated into United’s Virtual Studio Manager control management program, providing United with a completely integrated workflow.

Expectations Exceeded

Today, the new facility provides United’s clients with contemporary technology and production comfort. "It is a very competitive industry, so United has to be at the edge of technology in order to sell our facilities and services to directors and producers,” stated Ruesen. “Now, many companies and well established directors and producers come to United because they prefer the technology and features oered by the new production facilities.” According to Ruesen, the Thinklogical solution has been “an absolute pleasure” to work with and it provides the image quality that they were searching for. Ruesen emphasizes the value of the support he received from the Thinklogical Design Center (TLDC). Ultimately, their expertise ensured the system design would meet the projects demanding goals. “Thinklogical solutions gave us the ability to provide our clients with what they want and need most for their productions and this allows us to keep our qualitative edge,” Ruesen says.

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