Blackmagic completes A/V production facility at Majles Alghadeer hussainyah
SAUDI ARABIA: An extensive broadcast-quality A/V production facility was recently installed into the Majles Alghadeer hussainyah in Saudi Arabia. Covering a floor area of over 600sq-m over two levels, the house of worship hosts approximately 200 events each year and caters to several thousand local attendees.
The production facility was installed in order to provide extensive audio and visual coverage throughout the house of worship. The final solution facilitates the internal distribution of the sermons to 14 50-inch LCD displays, 60 ceiling speakers and 30 in-wall speakers, and allows for streaming through a dedicated YouTube channel.
The main floor is covered by a matrix of 10 Sony Handicam cameras mounted on pan and tilt platforms. Meanwhile, six main microphones and 25 audience mics pick up audio over the main floor, while the other floor is equipped with the same setup in case of simultaneous use of the facility.
All HDMI camera outputs are converted to HD-SDI via Blackmagic MiniConverters and are delivered over coaxial cable to an Atem 1 M/E and Atem 2 M/E production switcher in the central control room, while a Blackmagic Smart Videohub handles the audio and video routing throughout the building.
‘I initially came across Blackmagic Design products whilst researching MP4 recorders and discovered local distributor, Mediacast in Dubai,’ said Usamah Ridwan, a volunteer and the main technology expert within the hussainyah. ‘It was like opening a window to a new world. There seems to be a product for every possible solution to every requirement, whether that is local or network broadcasting, stored or streaming video and conversion.’
Two teams of operators and producers service the system; one provides control of equipment for live reproduction and recording, while the other manages special effects and graphic creation using Adobe Photoshop. Each unit is equipped with an Atem production switcher – giving the operators complete control over the selection.
In addition, the teams encode their content for transmission in real-time via Blackmagic’s H.264 pro recorder, after which the feed is streamed direct to the hussainyah website and uploaded to YouTube using the LiveStream content delivery network. ‘We set up an online channel for worshippers that were unable to attend in person but it soon gathered a reputation for its scope and quality, attracting 27,000 YouTube hits in its first two weeks,’ said Mr Ridwan.
Atem production switchers are used to locally produce and add special effects, whilst a Hyperdeck Shuttle – located within the operations area of the hussainyah ¬– provides storage for programme output.
‘There are several alternate connections and routes built into the system architecture allowing us to re-route feeds around the system, so that should any device fail we can usually replace it and continue our operations uninterrupted,’ Mr Ridwan explained. ‘In addition we have additional backup storage devices and switching panels to ensure that no one single item can be a sole point of failure.’
Mr Ridwan added that: ‘The ability to manipulate the incoming feeds is comprehensive and provides us with more than enough capability for our needs, with considerable room for expansion in the future. The cost of the products makes the system affordable to us and we doubt that we could have achieved the same result through other channels for the investment we have made.’