Tightrope Media Systems is helping Pittsfield Community Television (PCTV) in Massachusetts more efficiently automate content across three cable channels using the company’s range of Cablecast automation and video server solutions.
PCTV, serving the Pittsfield, Dalton and Richmond communities, produces and broadcasts programming for three distinct channels: Access Pittsfield, a public access channel; Pittsfield ETV, showing educational programming; and government programming channel Citylink. Each station offers interactive bulletin boards, video-on-demand and live web streaming — all enabled through Tightrope Media solutions.
A longtime Cablecast customer, PCTV added Tightrope Media’s new Cablecast SXHD platform to incorporate high-definition programming. The Cablecast SXHD video server supports three channels (one in, two out), multi-format SD/HD encoding and decoding, and built-in content storage (16TB). PCTV has also established file-based workflows using Cablecast SXHD, allowing the facility to work more efficiently by moving away from tape-based studio operations.
In addition to program scheduling and playout, Cablecast SXHD incorporates Tightrope Media’s Carousel digital signage application to manage program graphics, channel logo insertion and bulletin board content created both in-house and from the community.
“Cablecast SXHD is the central heart-pumping system for everything that runs through here,” said Shawn Serre, chief engineer, Pittsfield Community Television. “That seamless integration means we’re not dealing with a lot of different components and vendors that don’t work together. It makes the entire operation very reliable.”
The Cablecast SXHD video server supports native playout of many different file formats, including MPEG2 I-Frame only (up to 100Mbps) and DVCPro HD and SD. This helps PCTV retain video quality and eliminate cumbersome content transcoding processes that many facilities experience upon migration to file-based workflows.
Serre adds that the efficiencies extend well beyond internal processes and onto the greater community through the interactive capabilities of Carousel.
“The built-in Carousel Framework allows viewers, as well as educational and government users, to create and submit messages for broadcast on the bulletin boards,” said Serre. “These are displayed to 20,000 households along with community info, weather data, RSS feeds and other content. Carousel also informs viewers about upcoming programs and schedules. It’s very vital to the workflow.”
Serre notes that Tightrope Media Systems has grown along with PCTV as it moves away from being strictly appointment television. Cablecast SXHD’s automated operation extends to Cablecast video-on-demand (Cablecast ProVOD) and live streaming (Cablecast SX Live) solutions to help viewers consume content in new ways.
“The rise of new media means that people are hungry to consume content in non-traditional ways, so being able to provide television in different manners gives our viewers more options,” said Serre. “People are more likely to think of us a forward-thinking organization, which is important in community television. Tightrope has made it very efficient for us to automate channels and bulletin boards while moving to HD and file-based workflows.”