The CBC team’s initial plan was to develop a brand new and more efficient control solution to assist both its on-air talent and production staff. Unable to identify a suitable solution, it looked as if they would be obliged to use an old-fashioned clock system and tally lamps that would have to be operated manually and would be prone to lamp failure. But then a visit to the BBC’s new Broadcasting House in London introduced them to Densitron’s IDS Control System, which they soon realized could successfully digitize the entire process and bring all of the required information and display elements into a unified whole.
“At first they wanted IDS to fulfil a relatively concise specification that focused on basic information such as studio status and timings, to be displayed on screens inside and outside of the studios,” recalls Reuben Such, Global Business Development Director – IDS at Densitron. “But it wasn’t long before they realized they could do so much more with it and combine a lot of disparate systems into a network-based environment.”
The initial deployment of IDS and more than 20 10.1” TFT touchscreens took place in 2018 and resulted in a “close collaboration” between CBC and Densitron. Underpinned by an increasingly extensive integration with the Lawo VSM control system and Ember+ control protocol, CBC ended up with a fully network-based infrastructure that uses IDS for all the essential messaging, including: countdowns to ‘on-air’ and ‘off-air’; studio status and alert messaging via the Ember+ control protocol; a production timer that can be adjusted to the individual spec needed for different radio and TV operations; and the display of program and room scheduling information on displays situated outside the studios.
Such adds that “one of the great bonuses of IDS is that customers often realize they can expand their use of the system” – and that’s certainly proven to be the case with CBC. Recognizing that it needed to give its staff greater access to information about the weather and forthcoming events, the broadcaster subsequently integrated IDS with Google calendar and its own weather APIs. Use of the system has also been expanded to include studio lighting control.
“Not for the first time, a customer has moved from wanting a system to fulfil a fairly simple set of requirements, to finding it essential for a whole range of vital day-to-day production needs and tasks. We have built up a great relationship with CBC and are now working to bring the same mix of functionality to the broadcaster’s studios in Toronto,” continued Such.
In the next phase of work due to commence soon, the IDS Control System – along with “in the region of 25 or 30 touchscreens” – will be installed to provide a comparable combination of display and control capabilities across CBC’s Toronto site.
Lysanne Pinard, Chief Engineer at CBC/Radio-Canada, comments: “Along with its flexibility of integration into new and existing infrastructures, the combination of Densitron IDS and TFT touchscreens has long provided us with the reliable and flexible approach to studio & production messaging and display that we require at CBC. We have developed a really good partnership with the team at Densitron, and we look forward to continuing that when we begin work on a similar deployment in Toronto.”