South African Broadcast Corp outfits new HD master control room

Axon Cerebrum screen
Neal Romanek
Post Production
March 24th 2017 at 12:33PM : By Neal Romanek

The new MCR features Axon Cerebrum control and monitoring software and Utah Scientific routers

The South African Broadcast Corporation has upgraded its mobile master control room. The broadcaster is the first in Africa to integrate Axon Digital Design’s versatile Cerebrum control and monitoring software platform with Utah Scientific’s router technology.

SABC's new HD mobile master control room (MCR) is part of the broadcaster’s Johannesburg-based High Technology Operations Centre (HTOC). Built by local coachbuilder New Installation Company (NIC) with design support from systems integrator and Axon distributor Inala Broadcast, the new mobile MCR controls between four and six outside broadcast trucks and receives 20 external feeds from SABC’s news regions. It also monitors incoming signals and send outgoing broadcast feeds to an uplink vehicle.

SABC’s Cerebrum system (pictured above) is now being used to control two Utah routers – a compact 7RU UTAH-400/144 and a 4Ru UTAH-400/72s2 Frame, the smallest member of the Series 2 Family. 

SABC, Inala, Axon and NIC collaborated to complete the project in just four weeks so that SABC could deliver coverage of the 2016 South African national elections in full HD.

Other equipment installed in SABC’s mobile MCR includes a Riedel communications system, Tektronix waveform monitoring and an Axon Synapse modular HD monitoring distribution amplifier with embedded 3G/HD/SDI. Peter Knevitt, Principal Technologist and TV OBs Engineering Manager at SABC, says the close collaboration between Inala, Axon and NIC made the entire project much easier for his team.


SABC fleet


“Due to the tight timescale, Inala and NIC built a temporary installation to ensure HD coverage of the elections, which took place at the beginning of last August,” says Anton Van Staden, Inala’s executive broadcast consultant. “The equipment is now being decommissioned and moved into a brand new OB vehicle. It will be used as a mobile MCR for all types of productions and should be fully operational by April.”

“By combining Axon’s Cerebrum control and monitoring with Utah Scientific’s routers, we have been able to provide a streamlined workflow that delivers against budget and production requirements,” Van Staden says. “Also, Utah routers offer IP interface capabilities and this is a major advantage because it will simplify the switch to IP broadcasting, when SABC decide to make that move.”

“Switching from analogue to High Definition is a large step for any broadcaster, and with the national elections our target, we only had four weeks to do it in,” he says. “In that situation, it is really important to have supportive and proactive people around you. Inala and Axon made things very easy for us and we’re delighted with what they achieved. The temporary installation worked perfectly and we are looking forward to having all the equipment operational in our permanent mobile MCR.”