Las Vegas PBS, Clark County School District Rely On For-A Switcher

FOR-A announce Nevada’s Las Vegas PBS, which serves the Clark County School District, recently upgraded the control room that supports live streaming coverage of CCSD board meetings with an HVS-100 HANABI video switcher and CG-Portable compact character generator. ​With COVID-19 restrictions in place that restrict the public’s ability to attend meetings in the boardroom, the live video feed has taken on new significance, as it satisfies the county’s open meeting laws.

“Not only has viewership skyrocketed, but we’ve moved from a convenience to a must-have, no-fail event that satisfies a requirement by law,” explained John Turner, director of engineering, IT, and emergency management for Vegas PBS, which provides a variety of education services and manages CCSD’s video distribution needs. “For this no-fail setting, FOR-A was the right decision.”

The updated control room and boardroom are housed at the CCSD’s main facility, located a few miles east of the Las Vegas Strip. Four PTZ cameras installed in the ceiling of the boardroom capture the action, while an output from the boardroom’s dedicated audio system provides audio for the live stream.

Installed in early March, the new system was operational only a few days before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Other improvements included a new audio mixer, two streaming encoders, and two H.264 recording appliances.

Turner praised the HVS-100’s power and simplicity. Recently, the board asked Vegas PBS to add live video of an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter to the bottom corner of the feed, a request he thought would require additional equipment and days to configure. However, his crew was able to solve the problem in minutes with the switcher’s built-in DVE – and even created a macro to recreate the setting with the touch of a button.

“We are very happy with the performance and reliability,” Turner said. “It has all the functionality you would expect in a larger switcher but in a smaller switcher.”

The new FOR-A switcher is equipped with optional redundant power supplies and was purchased to replace an aging integrated production system. “I wanted to prepare us a little more for the future and not tie us to an all-in-one box,” Turner said. “Equipment dependability is very important, because a technical glitch means no meeting.”

The CG-Portable allows CCSD to easily produce the basic graphics needed for meeting coverage. “We needed something that wasn’t going to break the bank,” Turner added. “It does a very nice job. For our needs, it’s perfect.”

Meetings are streamed live to Facebook and the CCSD website. Most board meetings reach about 5,000 viewers, but some meetings have attracted up to 15,000 viewers. According to Turner, the boardroom is now hosting other meetings as well, sometimes as many as three a week, because of its live streaming capabilities.

“For the Clark County School District, equipment failure means cancelled meetings,” said David Morris, FOR-A western regional sales manager. “The HVS-100 and CG-Portable were installed at the right time to help CCSD produce live video coverage of board meetings for the public reliably during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

Through its browser-based GUI, CG-Portable makes it easy for PEG (public, educational, government) channels to produce and display lower-thirds and other graphics. With software developed by Brainstorm, it supports two independent, multi-lingual text overlays for horizontal crawls and vertical rolls, plus a timer overlay for up/down count. CG-Portable also offers more than 70 frames of graphic playback buffer, so users can insert animated as well as static logos over programming. Four SDI ports provide easy integration with production switchers and HD displays, while an Ethernet port allows for network connectivity.

The HVS-100 (separate main unit and control panel) and HVS-110 (integrated main unit and control panel) offer mixed HD/SD input, frame sync on all inputs, and two keyers and two DSKs with dedicated 2.5D DVE. While the standard HVS-100 switcher offers eight HD-SDI inputs and four 4 HD-SDI outputs and one HDMI output, it can be expanded to support additional I/O. The HVS-110 offers 12 HD-SDI inputs, eight HD-SDI outputs, and one HDMI output. With a built-in web server, switcher settings can be changed from a PC or tablet. Other features include a built-in multi-view, macros and event memory, and clip memory to support playback of video or animations through the two channels of still store. 

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