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Splash Media Creates a One-Man Virtual Studio with Avid

Since its inception in 2004, Splash Media has been building broadband TV channels. Its uniqueness lies in its technologically advanced and efficient television studios. Splash Media’s programs are produced by only five or six people in the control room and without any crew on the studio floor. Computer-guided cameras are all controlled by one person, and the studio is a blue screen room with virtual studio sets keyed into the final video feed. Camera moves are monitored by the virtual studio servers, where minute adjustments to the set give the studio depth.

Using limited resources for an unlimited vision

Splash Media approached Orad (purchased by Avid in 2015) with the request to design and install a network studio in a space the size of a 2 car garage. The facility, located in Addison, Texas USA, was on the ground floor of a five story commercial/residential building with just six months to the scheduled airdate. In addition, Splash Media wanted to keep the required amount of operators in the virtual studio to an absolute minimum.

The studios were supposed to house two television networks, Traders Television Network (TTV), and The Success Training Network (TSTN). The first network—launched on schedule on June 1, 2005—produces 11 one hour, live programs daily that are broadcasted Monday through Friday on the DISH satellite network and streamed to the web on a proprietary desktop application. The second network was launched exactly one year later on June 2006, and is broadcasting on DISH and the web.

Avid was approached to provide the virtual studio system and Telemetrics to develop a camera robotics system to fit in a space challenged environment. The entire facility is about 1,200 square meters and contains one control room, three studios, and a Network Operation Center. Because of the size limitations, the only possible and viable solution was a 100% 3D multi-camera virtual studio from Avid, coupled with camera robotics system from Telemetrics.

Avid was given the stupendous task of providing Splash Media with a virtual studio that could run on a skeleton staff. The solution: a studio that is only 6.7 meters x 6 meters, with a 180° chroma key wall controlled by Avid’s virtual set system. Avid’s economic solution enables one person to control both the virtual studio and 3 cameras simultaneously.

To accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task, I had to look to technology and partner with companies that make innovative products.

RODNEY MURRAY, VP OF ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY, SPLASH MEDIA, LP


Currently, Splash Media are using 9 different sets throughout their different productions, which can be switched from one to the other with a click of a button. One of the key challenges presented to Avid and Telemetrics was to provide Splash with a robotic solution that would allow Splash to produce sophisticated dolly on air and jib shots from the main camera. The solution: an “H” shaped tracking system mounted to the back wall of the studio which would have horizontal and vertical capabilities in limited space—enabling the camera to move back and forth to produce the jib and dolly shots. Splash Media were thrilled with the end result, and received the capabilities of a big studio without the space and expense of it.

Splash Media’s virtual studios are all about technology

What makes Splash Media’s virtual studio unique is the seamless integration between Avid’s virtual studio and Telemetrics’ camera robotics system, together with its simple yet all encompassing workflow. Splash Media works with three robotic cameras: one is mounted on the “H” shaped tracking device for jib and dolly shots, providing the perfect solution for a small sized studio.

The other two consist of stationary robotic cameras. All three cameras are run by a single operator who controls all of the cameras from the control room using a touch screen. This enables him to call predefined shots as well as operate the virtual studio. The tracking information from the robotic camera is transferred in real-time to Avid’s virtual studio. The Telemetrics driver that was developed by Avid reads the tracking data and analyzes it in real-time. This tracking data is then fed into 3 DVGs which give Splash Media the ability to preview each camera and dissolve between them.

The design of this studio really pushes the envelope for efficiency. There’s a lower cost of ownership and operation. With partners like Avid, we are able to change the way we make television.

RODNEY MURRAY, VP OF ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY, SPLASH MEDIA, LP


Making the impossible happen

With the help of Avid’s highly reliable and innovative virtual set solutions, Splash Media are able to realize the impossible—running 10 completely different, easily replaceable, virtual, sets with minimum operators for over 11 hours every day.

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