Going live with its first programming in July 2020, the new BBC Wales Headquarters building in Cardiff’s Central Square replaced the broadcaster’s previous long-serving premises to the north of the city in Llandaff. The studio and office complex is operated by BBC Cymru Wales and also serves as a base for S4C.
As befits a building with an impressive modernist sheen courtesy of celebrated architects Foster+Partners, the expectations for the broadcast systems installation were similarly exalted. Ease of integration was very much the order of the day, including for display and lighting control requirements inside and outside the TV, radio and post studios.
The successful deployment of IDS at multiple other sites – including Salford Quays in Manchester and Broadcasting House in Central London – meant that the system was a good fit for the new Cardiff complex. However, as well as maintaining consistency with other facilities, there was also the recognition that IDS would work fluidly with a host of core systems.
Director Richard Bailey, from project partner Techex, confirms that it “the value of the IDS control was obvious from the early phases of the project. But we were also aware that it would integrate with a wide variety of broadcast systems, creating easy-to-use control surfaces and being at the heart of the operation.”
And there is no doubt about the importance of IDS to Central Square and it’s versatility means it is being used across many departments. “IDS is integrated into the radio control rooms, radio and TV studios, TV galleries, edit suites and master control area,” says Techex’s Bailey.
Reuben Such, Global Business Director at Densitron IDS, observes that the system has proven especially beneficial in the busy radio department, where there is a constant and rapid turnover between presenters and productions. “There has been some great feedback about the ease of control that IDS provides for radio productions,” says Such. “The configuration also feeds into visualisation productions, where IDS can be used to control fixed cameras and set up the picture for a visual radio piece. In addition, it has been integrated with the building’s IPTV system, while IDS is also being used to control LED lighting inside some of the studios.”
A great deal of thought went into making the use of IDS a smooth experience for all users. Hence the implementation of “one button-style recall for individual shows. For example, the team on Radio Wales Breakfast can press a single button to set all the relevant branding on the screens and reclaim the lighting presets for that show. IDS is great at facilitating that kind of single button macro-operation,” notes Such.
Working in close collaboration with Techex, Densitron helped see the project to completion in a series of phases during the 18 months preceding the opening of the site. Techex’s Bailey emphasises the effectiveness of this collaboration: “Densitron has been paramount in the deployment of this project and turning the specifications of the client into the IDS system now operational in Central Square.”
Now that the new site is open, the involvement of Densitron will continue via a long-term service/maintenance agreement. “Our role now in terms of looking after IDS is to serve as the first line of support,” confirms Such. “So that entails basic support via phone or email, but if there is a more complex problem that cannot be fixed at distance we will collaborate with them until it is resolved.”
The Densitron IDS solution is contributing to the production of an impressive array of programming. As well as creating a wide variety of news content, the Central Square facility is home to flagship programmes including X-ray, BBC Wales Today and Match of the Day Wales. Three radio services are based at the studios, while there is also extensive drama production for radio.