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UK’s ITV Builds Out Six HD Regional News Centers With Axon Cerebrum Control

Britain’s ITV network has opened a new UTV (formerly Ulster Television) regional news facility in Belfast, which marks the successful completion of a two-year project to rollout HD production and streamline news production workflow across six regional centers. The infrastructure, designed and built by Systems Integrator IPE, relies extensively on Axon Digital’s Cerebrum as the control and management hub at the heart of all news operations.

Regional News is an important part of ITV’s overall contribution to public service broadcasting in the UK. The system design includes a template-based approach to streamline the workflow so that it efficiently delivers high quality content to the millions of viewers who tune in each week.

Ray Bragg, IPE’s Director, said that the Axon Cerebrum “removes obstacles and over-complication in the workflow” and after some research became “the obvious choice in our infrastructure template for all ITV’s locations.”

The first phase of the project saw the delivery of HD News facilities in the Channel Islands, Tyne Tees, Bristol and Birmingham Central within a tight timeframe of 4-week intervals, closely followed by East Anglia in 2017.

At each site, Axon Digital Design's Cerebrum supports remote access to provide additional control and trouble-shooting capabilities. Through a user-friendly, task-sensitive graphical interface, the workflow is simplified and operators can easily master customization of tasks for specific local requirements. 

At each site, Cerebrum provides an overarching control hub for routing, signal processing, tally control with tight integration of IFB, audio and communications.

At each site, Cerebrum provides an overarching control hub for routing, signal processing, tally control with tight integration of IFB, audio and communications.

“Multi-skilling is at the heart of ITV’s approach to news production and with Cerebrum control, you don’t need to be a technical expert to run the system,” said Steve Teague, ITV’s Head of Technical Services. “It simplifies the process with a powerful logic that shields the operator from complexity and gives them the freedom to focus on the content. Cerebrum has streamlined the whole process significantly so that tasks can be done in less time and that’s given our operators a greater degree of confidence.”

The ITV team moved to a brand new building in Belfast, which featured a complete technical infrastructure upgrade. Following pre-build and commissioning at IPE’s headquarters in Hertfordshire, the install was completed on site in March and, following training of the network's staff, the system will go live in July.

The UTV Belfast facilities, which will deliver a main news program for the 6pm slot and shorter bulletins throughout the day, feature a studio equipped with four Sony cameras and newsroom with a Panasonic PTZ tilt and zoom camera; four Avid edit suites and an ingest traffic area. Core routing is provided by Grass Valley, with a Sony production switcher, Blackmagic Design graphics, SSL sound mixing and a Clearcom digital matrix intercom system. All of these pieces are controlled by the Cerebrum system via its user-friendly graphical interface. 

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