Systems Integrators Answer Industry's Needs
Helping Pilot Today's Corporate Captains Through the Storm.
When charting the tumultuous seas rocking today's broadcast industry, corporate captains are increasingly turning to systems integrators help pilot them through the storm.

"We provide sort of a soup to nuts package for our customers," says Tom Canavan, President of A. F. Associates, a leading systems integrator located in Northvale, NJ, (, "helping them outsource their needs for growth and expansion on the technology side. And I'm glad to say the biggest trend affecting us is that broadcasters and cable system operators are turning to systems integrators more often than they did even just 10 years ago."

Canavan postulates this is in large part due to the downsizing of engineering staffs and the fast pace of changes in the new digital technologies. This makes it an ideal scenario to bring a knowledgeable systems integrator to the table when planning new installations, and he cites as an example the accelerating transition to server-based technology being used to modernize new and existing facilities.

Tom Canavan,
President of A. F. Associates
"We have worked with virtually ever server product that is out there," he says, "and we know which automation systems they function best with. So a company like A. F. Associates can bring a lot of experience to the table that our customers simply don't have access to."

For example A. F. Associates recently helped design and build a number of regional Time/Warner cable news channel facilities in several cities across the country. "We did the detailed design work based on Time/Warner's technology model," Canavan says, "and then pre-built the facilities here in our New Jersey plant so we could install them at the customer's site in a minimal amount of time. As a result, Time/Warner has been able to reduce their operating costs while producing high quality regional news for less of a capital investment than they could have accomplished even a few years ago."

One technology trend Canavan has been tracking is the move away from racks filled individual CRT monitors and toward "virtual monitor wall" large area displays involving either projectors or plasma screens. Coupled with multiplexers that can present numerous customized images in their native aspect ratios, this allows a facility to allocate its signal monitoring display assets depending on particular needs.

"There are a number of efficiencies realized by this approach," Canavan tells us. "Not only does this eliminate the bulk, heat and cost of redundant CRT monitors, but it also allows you to configure a control room's display for specific production requirements. For example, the nighttime operators may need to monitor different signal paths than required during the day's production. It's just one additional way to make the workflow more efficient, following today's trend of having to produce more for less money."