FORT MYERS, Fla. — The government channel for the City of Fort Myers, Fla., has undergone an upgrade — and eagle-eyed residents and council members alike are noticing the improvements.
“This has been a big success for the city,” said Richard Calkins, technology director for Fort Myers. He estimated CFM-TV covers up to 30 meetings per month in the chambers, between the city council and various advisory boards, and production is usually handled by one employee.
The station’s upgrades included a Mica 1000 integrated production switcher from Broadcast Pix, new closed captioning systems for its Comcast channel and live web feed, new cameras and microphones in the chambers, and an HD feed for the web. The Mica replaced aging hardware, a move that helped reduce the amount of equipment in the small CFM-TV control room that is next to the council chambers.
Encore Broadcast Solutions in Tampa handled the integration.
In addition to a new ELMO document camera, there are five Sony PTZ cameras installed in the chambers. Three of those cameras are positioned at the back of the room for coverage of the seven council members on the dais, while the fourth provides a view of the podium from the front of the room for citizen comments. The fifth provides coverage of the city manager and city attorney. The Mica also receives a feed from a PC input at the podium for PowerPoint presentations.
John Downey, IT network technician, praised the flexibility of the Mica, including the customizable multiview and the choice of control surfaces. CFM-TV has a traditional control panel, but meetings are often switched using a keyboard and mouse. The station does not use many lower-thirds because of the captioning, but Downey hopes to add more graphics and macros as the team becomes more familiar with the Mica.
CFM-TV is “just scratching the surface” of the Mica’s capabilities, according to Downey, but initial viewer reactions have been very positive. “It looks a lot better,” he added. “People have definitely noticed the difference.”