QTV’s strategy was to completely disrupt the status quo in Scottish sports broadcasting. At the outset the management team engaged with ES Broadcast as its principal technology partner. ES Broadcast is a longstanding Ross Video Diamond Elite partner, and in turn identified a range of Ross products that would form the standard technology for QTV to build upon. Ross’ end-to-end solutions – with products including Ultrix routers, Carbonite switchers and openGear infrastructure – have become integral components in QTV’s technical strategy.
In 2017, QTV acquired an Ultrix FR2 router and Carbonite Black switcher as part of a package of equipment for use in its first vehicle commissioned OB1. This significant investment in live broadcast equipment enabled the company to begin providing services to the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), covering one of the non-broadcast matches each round during the 2018-19 season.
With a growing reputation for quality, reliability and innovation, QTV pitched a remote production model to the league to produce all non-broadcast match coverage and centralised post-production and distribution, leading to a multi year contract commencing in August 2020.
The QTV / ESB partnership developed an innovative model for custom remote engineering vehicles (ENG) based primarily around Ross infrastructure products. QTV invested in two of these remote vehicles to work alongside the more traditional OB1, which was used for larger spec fixtures, whilst the ENG units provided coverage for the rest of the league. Each ENG vehicle sends up to six camera feeds via J2K links to QTV’s production hub.
The core of the QTV production infrastructure was first based on an Ultrix FR2 router loaded to 70×70 with MADI Audio, utilising its hyperconverged methodology (that is, one piece of equipment that can do the task of multiple pieces of equipment) to reduce other infrastructure requirements. Two production control rooms (PCR) worked with paired ENG vehicles and a new Master Control Room (MCR) to coordinate all lines in and out, allowing QTV to scale more efficiently. This was made available to the SPFL and to other clients by servicing an additional 10 flexible control positions, producing single feed remote productions for commentary, world feeds and betting graphics for a range of sports.
A major part of the SPFL’s targets for this new contract was to reduce the league’s environmental impact. As well as providing a home for the on-venue technical functions,
the ENG vehicles acted as camera tenders and crew transport, helping to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, reducing emissions and carbon footprint. By using the hyperconverged approach, ES Broadcast was also able to reduce power consumption within the vehicle design by consolidating routing, multiviewers, audio demux / mux and frame synchronisation.
By 2022, the company’s fast growth led to a planned move to a new bespoke home, Clydesdale House. Purpose built for remote production, this facility provided four PCRs to produce concurrent matches, alongside the 10 flexible production stations, and 2 traditional OB trucks. ES Broadcast transitioned existing equipment between the two facilities during a very short window in summer off-season 2022. During this phase ES Broadcast also installed additional MCR monitoring, and lines control capacity. One of the key elements of this transition was the ability to blend HDB-IO from the initial FR2 with new cards in the FR5, increasing capacity to 124×124, the backwards compatibility allowing QTV a continuing ROI.
A major benefit of using Ross solutions was the ability to easily build customised UI’s within the DashBoard control platform, to work not only with Ross equipment but also that of third-party vendors. This allowed ES Broadcast to provide QTV with bespoke control interfaces for both engineering and operational staff, initially working with routing and monitoring control but then expanding to audio mapping and later to control the newly released MXR licences for in-router audio mixing, further increasing production capacity.
2022 also saw the introduction of a further ENG 3 vehicle to meet the expanding workload and the Ultrix FR5 router was expanded to maximum capacity.
This summer (2023), QTV has undertaken another significant expansion of facilities (CH2.0) adding a new flagship 12 camera REMI gallery with Carbonite Ultra switcher, alongside 12 camera PCR1, dedicated audio and VO studios, PCR 5 and a further ENG 4 vehicle to the fleet. The core Ultrix routing infrastructure was necessarily upgraded to an FR12.
Throughout, training provided by ES Broadcast and Ross Video has been instrumental to the rapid and seamless adoption of new solutions and systems as they came online.