Moving to the MediaCity

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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“Building a broadcast facility halfway up a shared tower block presented its own unique challenges – for example, getting over 120 racks up to the 8th floor in only one operational lift! Not only was this arduous but also doorways had to be altered slightly in order for the racks to be moved through the building on a bespoke designed dolly.”

After 25 years of operating from its London Corsham Street base, the relocation of SIS’ facilities to MediaCityUK in Salford was a major project for the company. The lure towards MediaCityUK, a brand new location on Manchester’s waterfront in Salford Quays, is clear. The £650m invested by The Peel Group has developed a bespoke environment designed specifically around the needs of the creative and digital industries and a hub for several major new UK broadcasters.

One of the largest is the BBC, which has started to move around 2,500 staff from five London-based departments, along with all local and network broadcasting currently operating out of Manchester city centre. Meanwhile, ITV has announced that its Manchester-based operations, including Coronation Street and ITV Granada regional news team, will be moving to MediaCityUK during 2013.

In addition to the new corporate offices on the 10th floor, SIS required new broadcast and engineering facilities, comprising the 8th and 9th floors of the Blue Tower, which were entirely designed, installed and commissioned by the SIS LIVE project team.

London to Manchester

SIS Director of Production, Jason Barker, was the overall project director, while Jenkins Design and ISG were commissioned to complete the building works, with Fairbrother handling the installation of electrical and air conditioning systems. The brief presented to the SIS LIVE team was for the installation of multiple production areas including galleries, studios, voice over booths, edit suites and an MCR. The project also required supporting core infrastructure such as router, comms system and “glue” products for parent company SIS.

The opportunity was taken to upgrade the facilities, including the installation of 3G-capable infrastructure with HD-ready abilities and inter-area fibre was installed to enable rapid deployment, reduce wiring times and to provide a degree of future proofing.

Rather than a traditional large core router and large multiviewer system, the design utilises a Miranda NVision hybrid broadcast router and a monitoring router coupled with smaller modular Miranda multiviewers. The benefit of this approach is the ability for the monitoring router, coupled with the Optocore gigabit network on the fibre ring, to provide resilience to the main hybrid routing and MADI audio systems.

Other headline equipment includes; Miranda processing, Snell vision mixers, Calrec digital audio mixers, Clearcom communications, EVS servers, Ericsson encoding and Cisco multiplexing.

The 24hr MCR was designed to monitor and control the new SIS national media network as well as the new SIS teleport at MediaCityUK, the largest of its kind in the north of England, comprising nine transmit-capable antennas ranging from 3.8m to 9.0m. Each of the four fully-equipped MCR operational “pods” can be staffed by either one or two people and the main monitor wall is driven from a 576 x 1152 monitoring router with 192 sources viewable at any one time.

Building a broadcast facility halfway up a shared tower block presented its own unique challenges – for example, getting over 120 racks up to the 8th floor in only one operational lift! Not only was this arduous but also doorways had to be altered slightly in order for the racks to be moved through the building on a bespoke designed dolly.

The engineering project team, led by SIS LIVE staff and augmented by key freelance engineers, produced the concept and designs, managed the project and oversaw the testing and commissioning of the broadcast systems. Strong project management resulted in a successful delivery on-time and under-budget.

These resources in the Blue Tower are undergoing continual development, with new clients embedding their production operations within the SIS facilities. In December 2012 SIS signed an exclusive agreement to distribute all three of Betfred’s shop TV channels. Betfred is the world’s biggest owner-operator bookmaker with a retail estate of more than 1350 shops. SIS’ state-of-the-art MediaCityUK facility will become home for Betfred TV with the SIS LIVE projects team designing, commissioning, and building their full production suite comprising; a two-tier production gallery, dual sound gallery/voice-over booths and a four camera studio.

To complement the move, SIS also has a five-year strategic partnership with BT Media and Broadcast, which provides SIS with a market-leading MPLS-based fibre network which connects the main SIS headquarters in Milton Keynes and MediaCityUK, Salford with BT Tower, London, and provides resilient connectivity directly to strategically important locations around Britain, including major broadcasters.
 

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