In Constant Flux
The Author: Pierre Maillat is Head of Engineering and Maintenance at Canal+. He is in charge of the two-day removal of the NEXUS to the new premises this summer.
The French broadcasting service Canal+ already knew about the exceptional reliability and flexibility of NEXUS. However, it was adaptability that tipped the balance for the audio router since the broadcasters were looking for a main control room that would be scalable.
The Canal+ group operates on a grand scale, developing new program formats and producing all the sports programs for members of the group. For this work, flexible technology is a major requirement.
Division of Labour
Since 2002, two NEXUS STARs and 11 base devices have been responsible for audio routing in the main control room. Identically wired and with each router connected to each base device, the two STARs divide the signal routing between them. This system architecture was chosen to give excellent fault tolerance, due to redundancy, and plenty of room for expansion. Initially, the configuration looked rather different: The first NEXUS installation at Canal+ in 1999 comprised nine base devices interconnected to form a kind of central router. Technological growth was already a major consideration, soon accomplished thanks to the STAR. Then, as now, the NEXUS – plus the video router and intercom-system feeds - is controlled using a software package by French manufacturer, Netia.
The Next Step
Centralized structure is a particular feature of the Canal+ installation. The two STARs and most of the base devices are centrally located in the main control room, and signal routing to the other control rooms is conventional, using cables. This will soon change as Canal+ are moving to new premises in summer 2004. Once again, the STARs will be installed in the main control room, but the majority of base devices will be networked by fibre optics to shift them closer to the control rooms. NEXUS will also allow new studios to be connected to the main switching room via fibre-optic cables. The news program, for example, is currently produced at Montparnasse and will be moved to a building opposite the new main complex, with fibre-optics crossing the river Seine.
Olympic Starting Gun
The removal exercise will be exciting. Immediately after the Olympics, a highlight for the sports channel, the video edit suites will move, followed by the production department including the main switching room and NEXUS – without interrupting the operation! The NEXUS will undergo more changes after the move. Extended integration with the intercom is planned, as is Dolby E data forwarding. Of course, today nobody knows how the Canal+ group will expand in the future. Thanks to NEXUS and the STARs, the possibilities are endless!
The Canal+ Group
Canal+ is a French commercial subscription channel broadcaster based in Paris and a consortium of various radio and TV providers. It offers a large number of channels ranging from a news channel through themed channels such as Sport+ to documentary and movie channels. Canal+ also plays an important role in promoting film production in France.