Launched in August 2021, Timeline Television’s new Ealing Broadcast Centre (EBC) includes a 2000 sq. ft virtual reality studio, large production gallery, master control room and eight multi-purpose edit suites.
Since opening, the facility has been used to service 2021’s Paralympic Games as well as remote production for a number of different clients, such as ITV and Whisper. “We’ve recently done the Women’s Super League,” Bradley Woollett, lead broadcast engineer at Timeline Television, tells TVBEurope, “that’s a full remote production from Ealing bringing 18 cameras back from the ground, as well as Six Nations coverage for ITV from two production galleries.”
Work to expand EBC is on-going. What began as one-and-a-half floor project has now taken over a further three and a half, with the team at Timeline working towards a total of three studios, six production galleries of various sizes and a number of edit suites as well as various supporting rooms and production offices.
Any facility of this size needs a strong infrastructure, and Timeline and their systems integrator Digby Installation Services (DIS), turned to Argosy to supply thousands of metres of video cabling, a range of mains distribution units and multiple equipment racks.
“We’ve been supplying Timeline for some time,” explains Chris Smeaton, director at Argosy, “not just at Ealing Broadcast Centre but we work with them in Perivale and at BT Sports’ studios in Stratford.
“It’s not just cable and connectors that we supply, it can be racking, mains distribution units, active hardware. We’ve supplied a huge amount of hardware to Timeline over the last three or four years as they continue to move towards remote production,” he says.
“We’ve known Argosy for over 20 years, and they’ve always been really good with us,” adds DIS’ Darren Digby. “They’ve delivered all of our needs. They’re well known to all the system integrators and work for a lot of different people. We turn up at a lot of jobs and often see Argosy materials there, especially their Image brand cable, that is well known everywhere.”
Argosy’s Image 360, Image 720 and Image 1000 series of digital video cables run through the entire EBC, connecting the facility’s routers, vision mixers, servers, monitors, decoders, encoders and much more. That equates to thousands of metres of cable. “And that’s just video obviously, there’s audio and data as well,” adds Woollett. “There’s a hell of a lot of cable in this building. I’d say 100 kilometres is a fairly conservative guess.”
Argosy also provided EBC’s equipment racks, which Woollett describes as one of the best racks in the business. “They are definitely our preferred choice of rack,” he adds. “We always try wherever we can to use the Argosy range of equipment racks.”
”Standard racks can’t always deal with the density of equipment that we need in our operational areas,” he adds. “We know Argosy’s racks can handle our requirements and the wiremen at DIS really appreciate the open design.”
“One of the things we do when we’re designing products like the rack is work closely with someone like DIS and try and get an understanding of how user-friendly it is,” explains Smeaton. “So our rack for example, was designed back in the old days when racks used to have a very big, thick base and four pillars. We designed it to have a great big open space for the guys to bring the cable in. We then started recessing the cable tray to ensure that bundles of cable would not obstruct access to equipment units with deeper frames that bolt from the front of the rack to the rear of the rack. We worked with people like Darren to get feedback on trying to make the cable tray bigger and more user-friendly.”
“When Argosy were manufacturing their racks we would give them feedback and Chris made it happen,’ states Digby. “Maybe I am biased towards Argosy racks but I think they’re the best racks out there for a wireman to build to.”
It’s that willingness to listen to feedback from both systems integrators and customers that helps Argosy deliver products that the end users want to employ. “ For some parts of this project we’ve had to use different racks due to the requirements of the tier three data centre,” explains Woollett. “I’ve had a whole lot of grief from the wiremen about how difficult it is to fit the cable into them. So the fact that Argosy have listened so much to the requirements, it means that when I get an Argosy rack in, everyone’s smiling and it’s a lot easier.”
Another key advantage of using Argosy’s products is that their video connectors are compatible with a range of cables. “Before Christmas, we couldn’t get enough Image 1000 cables for what we needed for the project but we managed to use Belden cable instead because the Argosy connectors are compatible with them,” says Woollett. “That meant we were able to keep one set of connectors and not have to have four different types of connector.
“We work with the connector manufacturers to try and have some sort of standardisation so that wiring teams are not having to keep changing their tooling every time they move from say Belden brand over to Draka brand or somebody else,” adds Smeaton. “We try to put some sort of commonality in there just to try and make their lives easier.”