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Splash Media Creates a One-man Virtual Studio with Avid

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. In Addison, Texas, this American facility is located on the ground floor of a five-story commercial/residential building and had just six months to their scheduled airdate. In addition, Splash Media wanted to keep the required amount of operators in the virtual studio to an absolute minimum.

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

Using limited resources for an unlimited vision

Splash Media's television studios were intended to house two separate television networks; Traders Television Network (TTV), and The Success Training Network (TSTN). Their first network, launched June 1st of 2005, produced eleven one-hour live programs daily, broadcasting Monday through Friday by a DISH-satellite network, and also streamed to the web with a proprietary desktop application. Their second network launched exactly one year later in June of 2006, also broadcasting by DISH satellite and web-stream.

With partners like Avid, we are able to change the way we make television.

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

Avid was approached, asked to provide  virtual-studio system, with Telemetrics Inc., who'd develop a robotic camera system that fit Splash's space-challenged environment. The entire facility is roughly 12,917 Ft2, accommodating one control room, three studios, and a Network Operation Center. Because of these size limitations, the only possible and viable solution was an Avid, 100% 3D, multi-camera virtual studio, coupled with Telemetrics' robotic system.

Given this incredible task of equipping Splash Media with a virtual studio which could run on a skeleton staff, the solution was a studio only 132ft2, 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.

Currently, Splash Media uses 9 alternating sets throughout their various projects, switched from one to another by the click of a button. One key challenge presented to Avid and Telemetrics was providing Splash with robotic solutions, allowing sophisticated jib and dolly on-air shots from the main camera. The solution was an H-shaped track configuration, mounted to the back wall of the studio, which would have both horizontal and vertical capability. Splash Media was thrilled with the end results they received; the capabilities of a big studio without the space and expense of it.

Making the impossible happen

What makes Splash Media’s virtual studio unique are the seamless integration between Avid’s virtual studio and Telemetrics’ camera robotics, together with its simple and 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 a perfect solution for a small-sized studio.

The design of this studio really pushes the envelope for efficiency.

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

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

With the help of Avid’s highly reliable and innovative virtual-set solutions, Splash Media is able to actualize the impossible; running 10 completely different, easily-replaceable virtual sets, with a streamlined staff, for over 11 hours every day.

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