By: Brian Dewalt, Director of Engineering - WFMZ TV
Bio: Began in broadcasting in 1976 as a master control operator at WFMZ-TV and became the Director of Engineering in 2002.
In Allentown Pennsylvania, there are a multitude of choices for television stations and viewing options, which puts our local independent television broadcasts at WFMZ in competition with neighboring broadcasters from New York and Philadelphia. We recently automated our two studios with new integrated systems featuring Telemetrics camera robotics to put us on an even footing with our competition.
From the main studio control room, the Telemetrics’ RCCP-1 control panel, which is integrated with a Ross automation system, enables our director to control our new Telemetrics PT-LP-S4 Pan/Tilt heads, the Telemetrics Televator® Elevating Pedestal and Ikegami cameras, all of which are located in the main studio. The RCCP-1 control panel also provides our director with complete control of the Panasonic pan/tilt cameras in our remote studio which is located in the PP&L Center in downtown Allentown. A Telemetrics DS-4 Device Server allows communication between the Panasonic cameras and the RCCP-1 control panel via an Ethernet connection. Previously, the Panasonic cameras were controlled remotely through their CCUs and the Ikegami studio cameras were operated manually. By adding the Telemetrics camera robotic system all camera controls are now operated via the new RCCP-1 control panel which sits right in front of the director allowing him to easily set up the shots he likes, save them and repeat preset shots with 100 percent accuracy -- whenever he wants. The RCCP-1 control panel provides “repeatability”, which means we have a more professional and tight newscast while eliminating common issues that occur when the wrong button is pushed, a camera is not set up properly, or a camera operator’s manual pan is not smooth enough. The Telemetrics camera robotics system make all those problems disappear.
Retooling of the newsroom also included the installation of a new teleprompter system. The teleprompters were configured with the Ikegami cameras, balanced and measured on a jig and then mounted on the Telemetrics pan/tilt heads. It’s nice and tight and there’s no wobble or shaking back and forth when panning. Like the Televator and the RCCP-1 control panel, the Telemetrics pan/tilt units are well engineered and extremely solid which dramatically reduces down time due to equipment issues.
When Telemetrics sent a field tech in to do some of the installation work and assist in setting up the system, he made sure that our cameras were all properly mounted and balanced. Needless to say, we have been extremely pleased with Telemetrics technical support and overall customer service which is essential when undertaking such a critical studio retrofit.
Overall, the retooling was a very massive undertaking because when you are going from a conventional newsroom to an automated newsroom, everyone had to learn a whole new studio production workflow. On top of that, every director had to learn both the automation and robotics aspects of the system which are tightly integrated. In retrospect, the idea that we did all of this over the course of the summer of 2015 seems a bit ambitious – but we did it.
In addition to assessing product offerings when looking at companies I am considering as partners, one of the additional evaluation criteria that carries a great deal of influence with me is their history. Telemetrics’ proven reputation as a rock solid engineering company with a history that spans over three decades was definitely an important influence in our purchasing decision. From their original triax systems to today’s comprehensive camera robotics systems, I am impressed with what Telemetrics has done, what they continue to do from both a product engineering and support perspective. We look forward to maintaining a long and mutually beneficial relationship between WFMZ and Telemetrics into the future.