PBS39/WLVT‑TV Upgrades Control Room With FOR-A’s HANABI Video Production Switcher, ClassX Broadcast Graphics System
PBS39/WLVT‑TV, part of Lehigh Valley Public Media based in Bethlehem, PA, upgraded its control room last August with a FOR-A HVS-2000 HANABI video production switcher and ClassX broadcast graphics system. The new equipment has improved the on-air look of the station’s original programming as well as its live production workflows.
For example, the HVS-2000 can load and playback graphics from the ClassX, so the TD can access them during live productions. As a result, PBS39’s graphics designer does not have to be in the control room for “routine” productions.
“When I saw how well the two integrated together, plus the price, it seemed like an obvious choice,” said Andrea Cummis, chief technology officer.
Part of the station’s multi-year equipment upgrade plan, the HVS-2000 and ClassX replaced aging Grass Valley and Chyron systems. PBS39 equipped the new switcher with 32 inputs (expandable to 48) and a 3 M/E panel with 6 M/E performance, plus 4 MELite buses, which transform traditional AUX buses into fully functional M/Es. Cummis praised the switcher’s AUX remote control panels, which are used to feed the set monitors.
“That has been very helpful and freed up a lot of our router outputs,” she said.
A “typical” PBS39 studio production is a four-camera shoot, but it is not unusual to have a 10-camera shoot that uses both studio and PTZ cameras. “We do surprisingly big shows here – and with the FOR-A switcher, it’s no problem at all,” Cummis said.
During a particularly busy production night, PBS39 was producing a program at a nearby venue while shooting a live event in its studio. The HVS-2000 was also able to receive the feed from the external shoot with embedded audio, add a station bug to the program feed, and output the branded content with the embedded audio for recording – without interrupting the studio production.
“Being able to pass embedded audio was one feature that didn’t seem important when we got it,” Cummis added, “but it totally saved our night for us.”
PBS39 produces more than two dozen shows every month, including episodes of the nationally syndicated series You Bet Your Garden, as well as Scholastic Scrimmage, a long-running local high school academic quiz show. As part of the Philadelphia market (DMA #4) serving eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, the station also hosts live “town hall” meetings on a variety of topics. Every series gets its own distinct graphics, and Cummis said the ClassX has allowed the station’s graphic designer to be more creative.
The ClassX also supports the use of RSS feeds for updating election results and other data in graphics, a feature that was not supported by the station’s older graphics system. Cummis said the system “worked great” for local primary election coverage last year, but she is looking forward to using the system to its full potential for Election Night in November.
“This is really important. We’re going to have people everywhere,” Cummis explained. “Our election coverage is going to be way better with the new switcher and the ClassX.”
FOR-A is the exclusive distributor of ClassX in North, Central, and South America. The agreement provides broadcasters and live event producers with the ability to create and play out ClassX real-time broadcast graphics integrated with FOR-A video switchers.