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Solutions: parliament fits flexible video and broadcast system

A provincial parliament needed to update its video and broadcast equipment, while still maintaining compatibility with some of its older infrastructure.

With more than 160 elected members, the Sindh Assembly in Karachi is one of Pakistan’s largest provincial governments. The Assembly has filmed all of its parliamentary sessions since 2010, which include the passing of bills as well as ‘lijlaass’ meetings to discuss public health, education and local administration issues.

As its existing video systems could only handle SD content, the Assembly turned to system integrator Tahir Iqbal of Integrated Media to design and install a flexible audiovisual solution that would not only upgrade its facilities but would also encompass expansion into a new building.

“Many organisations in Pakistan, both public and private, are in a similar position; shifting not only from SD to higher resolution formats but also from tape to tapeless,” explains Iqbal. “However the additional challenge for the Assembly was that we needed to make sure the old and new systems could be seamlessly integrated, to allow members access to any archived video materials they required for future parliamentary rulings and motions.”

Full solution

Integrated Media was tasked with a full AV solution that can fulfil video requirements within the new 13,500sqm complex and the original Assembly building, approximately 600m away, as well as for national broadcast.

“There are a number of videowalls and repeater screens throughout the new facility where live sessions are screened. However, the Assembly also provides a feed from key sessions to the national broadcaster, Pakistan TV, as well as to private television channels,” explains Iqbal. “So when we started to design and specify a solution we had to balance the onsite audiovisual needs of a government complex, run by a small in-house team, alongside those of the national broadcaster.”

With this in mind Iqbal selected a solution built around Blackmagic Design, with a Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K at its heart. “The previous system didn’t allow the team to use downstream keyers for adding graphics and effects to its video feed. In particular, the Assembly wanted to add a ticker across the bottom of the programme feed to provide a professional, live news feel to the production, so the ATEM’s downstream keyers and digital video effects are powerful upgrades to the AV system.”

Integrated Media installed four Sony robotic PTZ cameras around the Assembly’s main hall; these are controlled remotely by one of the AV team to capture debates and rulings. Outputs from all four, together with audio, graphics and logos, are fed into the ATEM in the Programme Control Room (PCR) to produce the live programme. This mix is then captured by an UltraStudio 4K and taken over Thunderbolt to a Mac Pro for live editing, before being delivered out to broadcast partners.

Two 40in Samsung LED-lit displays have been installed in the PCR. One is positioned on a broadcast table specially built for the project by Integrated Media, and is used for multiview. The other, on a floor stand, shows the programme-out signal.

The live programme feed is distributed via a Mini Converter SDI Distribution 4K to 3 x 3 and 4 x 4 videowalls (previously installed) equipped with 46in Philips borderless LED televisions to provide diagonal displays of 3.5m and 4.7m respectively in the new building. The feed is also transmitted to repeater screens for the Speaker, Viewing Gallery and press room, so that officials and honourable guests can all view an entire session from their designated seats.


Iqbal explains that a patch panel facilitates signal distribution into the older Assembly building, where government officials also require a feed from the live sessions: “It was a critical element in the design that the old and new systems could co-exist and integrate seamlessly. The patch acts as the primary router between the two buildings, and a central Ethernet switch provides the bridge between the old and new file types. The team can then quickly retrieve and access archive material as required from the previous system.

In the old assembly building, the signal needs to be downconverted so that it can be used by the older equipment there, and by DSNG vans. Accordingly, Integrated Media installed AJA UDC and Blackmagic SDI-to-analogue and analogue-to-SDI and converters in the old control room.

Tape has not been completely eliminated following the new installation. Because the client wanted some Assembly sessions to be recorded on tape, and to have an archive on DVCAM, the project also included the installation of a Sony HVR-1500 video tape recorder.

Integrated Media also facilitated training the Assembly’s in-house AV team, who have been impressed with the intuitive and flexible features of the Blackmagic Design solution. “Our daily task of providing a concise and clear representation of the Assembly’s debates and decisions has become much easier,” states Asim Ahmed, technical controller at Sindh Assembly. “The solution fits our needs in terms of providing excellent coverage of the sessions to anyone that needs it while also giving us the professional capabilities necessary for our television partners for broadcast purposes in order to keep people throughout the province up to date with the latest developments in government affairs.”