The Australian WIN network has made a major purchase of a Pebble Beach Neptune automation system to be installed at WIN's transmission centres in Wollongong (NSW), Rockhampton (QLD) and Ballarat (VIC). The WIN Corporation is headquartered in Wollongong and is the largest privately-owned regional television network worldwide reaching more than 8.5 million viewers across six states and the Australian capital via its 24 wholly-owned and operated television stations.
With 20 production centres across Australia, its transmissions span the largest geographical area in the world, stretching from Cairns to Hobart, South Australia and all of Western Australia from Albany to Kununnurra.
WIN TV Director of Network Broadcast Engineering, John Smithers, explained the decision to buy Pebble Beach automation. "Around the middle of 2006 we made the decision to upgrade our automation systems in Wollongong, Rockhampton and Ballarat with the emphasis being on increased functionality, control and having a common system in all three sites," he said. "As Magna Systems had previously supplied our automation solutions we began discussions with them about what solution would best suit our new requirements. As WIN is a distributed network that is growing, we wanted a system that included distributed architecture and Magna presented us Pebble Beach's Neptune which had that and more. We were very impressed."
Smithers continued: "We liked Pebble Beach's pedigree due to their experience and we were particularly drawn to the Neptune system for various practical reasons. We liked the fact that the 'client' can take on any particular role, there is port addressability for any resource attached to the file server, it has a modern GUI and critically a clear development path for what we see as a new generation product. All of this plus the fact that we can control any one of our three sites remotely with high visibility sold us on Neptune."
As a distributed network, WIN's three transmission sites run independently except between midnight and 6am when the network operates as one single feed out of the main Wollongong presentation suite.
Smithers continued: "We wanted to give our Wollongong operators the ability to run Rockhampton and Ballarat between midnight and 6am as efficiently as possible. Our current system made that difficult but there were no issues with Neptune in making this happen."
With discussions well underway, Magna Systems presented WIN with a live trial for an HD channel using the Neptune automation system. Magna General Manager, David Bowers, explained: "We took the Neptune system down to WIN and everybody was very impressed, especially the operators when they saw the ability to do global replacements on all transmission lists, that there were warnings for classification errors and how the modern platform much better suited their requirements."
Smithers added: "Magna's solution using Pebble Beach's Neptune system was exactly what we were looking for. They left the system with us for two weeks and our presentation experts really put it through its paces. We discovered there were certain additional requirements that we needed, like controlling Clarity CGs. We advised Magna and Pebble Beach and they provided the interface within days. They promised the highest level of service and support and they delivered."
The Neptune solution will form part of replacement 11-channel playout systems at WIN's transmission centres in Wollongong and Ballarat with a completely new seven-channel playout infrastructure also being installed at the broadcaster's Rockhampton facility. Neptune automation will be deployed in a fully redundant configuration to control MediaStream servers Vizrt graphics and Quartz master control switchers. The WIN project will also see Pebble Beach's Anchor Media Management integrated with a Masstech near line storage system.
The Neptune automation solution is currently being installed at WIN in Wollongong, with Ballarat and Rockhampton to follow.