Fibre distribution devices from BroaMan and Optocore played a role in the new set of ITV’s Coronation Street, following its relocation from Manchester’s Quay Street Studios to Salford’s MediaCityUK. A fully integrated transport solution was conceived by the show’s technical manager, Stan Robinson, in conjunction with project engineers Phil Cooper and Nigel Fowler from system integrators TSL. The design was based on meeting all Coronation Street workflow and system requirements.
“The broad design was based on the previous set-up in Quay Street with the intention of streamlining, and improving wherever possible,” stated Cooper. “This was carried out using a combination of contemporary technology solutions and TSL’s industry experience, along with the vision of Stan Robinson.”
The architecture has been constructed around 10 BroaMan Route66 interfaces and two WDM frames. These combine to create one centralised router, feeding the ForA 96x128 matrix distribution unit, and forming part of the identification, CWDM and control to the Optocore router.
Instead of having Optocore sockets dotted around the site, hybrid camera fibre cables mean that every Optocore point is active through the site, achieved by patching into the SMPTE 311M network. Robinson explained: “This gives us additional resilience. There are 100 camera points supplying two patch systems enabling patching to either Camera Base Stations or the Optocore Router. “Each gallery has its own stagebox, and we simply wheel it to where we are shooting and plug in to our camera cable network. In effect, the whole site becomes our studio floor.”
“The main USP of this Optocore system is the ability to plug a stagebox in anywhere and be connected automatically to the correct gallery or OB van,” added Cooper. “Upon connection, the system discovers where the portable stagebox is connected and the central Video Router directs the assigned channels to the correct location.”
In addition to video, ITV can also route data and audio automatically since the stageboxes are a multi-faculty resource, which make connectivity available on set, whether in the studios, out on the lot or on location.
Production on the new Coronation Street set got underway in early January. “We were given a short lead time of just one week of rehearsals at the new site, so everything had to work first time and be operationally easy to use,” concluded Stan Robinson. “We are delighted with BroaMan and Optocore solution, which has offered us an incredibly flexible solution.”