Dennis Bergeron, program director of Holliston Cable Access, next to the facility's server & distribution rack.
HOLLISTON, MA—Holliston Cable Access Inc. (HCAI) programs three local access channels from its studio facility in the Holliston High School building.
HCAI's facilities exist to allow Holliston residents to participate in the development and production of local television programming. Users have access to the studio, production equipment, editing equipment, recording media, staff support and access channels at no cost when working on qualified programming. HCAI feeds its channels to both Comcast and Verizon FiOS for distribution.
With three channels to program, HCAI needs an effective and efficient program storage and server system, and has been using Leightronix servers for more than 16 years. The system’s most recent upgrade was to acquire two Leightronix UltraNexus video servers in 2012.
Previously, the station had two TCD R/P digital video player/recorders from Leightronix, with each dedicated to one of the station’s two channels. However, last year, the station added a third channel to air government meetings, and a system overhaul led HCAI to install two UltraNexus video servers to carry the three-channel load.
With two UltraNexus units, HCAI has the ability to run four channels. One unit runs the station’s education and government channels, and the other runs their public access channel on the first output and uses the second output as an off-air editing channel.
“It’s worked out very well for us, the features and the options we have available to us now are a lot more than we were used to,” said Dennis Bergeron, HCAI’s program director.
One feature Bergeron has been particularly pleased with is the ability to easily transfer files between servers. With three channels, Bergeron can maneuver the files so that the same content can be aired on any one of the three live channels. It’s also given Bergeron the ability to use both recorders, and view and edit video on his off-air channel regardless of what server was running that specific content.
“If a recording needs to go on the government or education channel and we recorded it on the public channel server, we can actually go in and move it over, so that just gives us flexibility and more options,” Bergeron said.
When looking for a solution, Bergeron did not simply choose Leightronix because his older system was a Leightronix system; he looked around at competitors’ products and found that Leightronix was the right fit for HCAI’s operation.
Bergeron added that he has been impressed with Leightronix’s after-the-sale support for its products.
“We had some previous experience with the Leightronix TCD/IP, which we had for about 12 years, and it was only serviced once the entire time that we owned it. I’ve always appreciated the support that we’ve gotten from the Leightronix tech people. They’re always available and always have the answers and it’s at no cost,” Bergeron said.
“The other system we were looking at was going to cost us a significant amount of money for a service contract, and it would gradually decrease in value until the fifth year and then they would not offer support after that. So that really bothered me,” Bergeron said.
Once HCAI decided to go with the UltraNexus, transitioning was easy. The UltraNexus simply replaced the old TCD/IPs and fit right into the station’s workflow.
HCAI initially brought in the two UltraNexus units and had them running offline for a month, while the staff learned the new system. The station had planned to have a transition month to learn the WinLGX scheduling software and load its MPEG files; while going through this transition, HCAI found the system was easy to learn and adjusted quickly. Once the station was ready to go live, the switch was simple.
“It was an easy swap because we already had the TCD/IP controlling external equipment, so we literally took the TCD/IP out, plugged in the UltraNexus, plugged in some cables and we were up and running,” Bergeron said.
With Leightronix UltraNexus servers forming the heart of its system, HCAI is looking forward to serving Holliston with high-quality locally generated programs.