The development marked a fundamental shift for BSkyB as it prepares to move from transmission based on Digital Betacam tape VTRs to a tapeless environment where purpose-built playout robots control transmission from Sony XDCam decks. The centre will allow BSkyB to iron out difficulties that arise from the implementation of a system not relying on tape before the integration of the technology at its main facility.
BSkyB engineers are confident that transmission based on Sony's XDCam will bring many benefits, including cutting costs. 'XDCam's lower cost of ownership compared with tape is a major plus since it enables us to reduce operating costs still further,' said BSkyB chief engineer Chris Johns. 'The main advantages are lower maintenance costs and reduced space requirements for vault storage.'
The 6,000sq m site will house facilities that mirror the operations of BSkyB's Isleworth-based transmission facilities.
A Sky spokesman was keen to point out that the new transmission set-up was to supplement existing operations, not replace them. The second site has also been designed to provide backup in case of technical fault or terrorist activity.
The implementation of the new kit will see Sony work with automation control company Encoda, whose systems are used to automate the existing Sony Flexicart system at BSkyB's Isleworth operations centre, to ensure compatibility between the automation and XDCam-based components. Tandberg Television digital compression equipment has also been added
to the new facility and 16 compression sys-tems containing encoders, multiplexers and receivers, and control and monitoring equipment will form an integral part of the new site.
The technology centre is due for completion by spring next year.