Alma TV Turns Argentine Snow Into Hit Show With NDI®

Near Bariloche, Argentina’s world class Andean ski resort, sits one of the finest locations for snow in the world – as well as one of the most unique video productions in the world.

For the past 10 years, Alma TV – a production company based in Buenos Aires – has produced Winterchannel, providing a 24-hour signal for local Argentine television stations in Bariloche, Mendoza, San Martin de los Andes, Villa Langostura and Ushiaia.

This year, the channel branched out in an effort to provide content for everything belonging to “the world of snow.” In 2018 the local FOX station hired Alma TV to produce a WinterNews program that airs news from the region live every weekday, as well as a Winter Magazine that shows news highlights on Saturdays.

On the set at Alma TV’s “Winterchannel” program for FOX in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

No Limitations in Location

To achieve a production that spoke to the winter feel, the set was constructed in the middle of the Cerro Cathedral in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche. The location is a local symbol in a winter town, and magnificent on broadcast, but it required a remote studio control located 800 meters away.

The initial worry with this setup was that the producers would have to undertake something of a civil work project that would break streets and require a run of optical fiber. Perhaps more difficult than the work itself would be obtaining municipal permits for such a project.

However, the technical team on the ground knew about the power of NewTek’s NDI®. Using NDI, the team utilized a pair of 2.5GB Metrolinq antennas to build out a network that allowed video and audio to stream from six camera signals and eight microphones on the studio set to the control room where the signal was switched utilizing a TriCaster® TC1 and a NewTek VMC1 IP Series.

“It solved everything,” said Mike Morrison, Technical Manager at the Alma TV. “Further, using a combination of NewTek and LiveU, I managed to distribute mobile phones throughout the sky centers not only in Argentina, but also in Chile. We can now receive signals from those mobile devices into our production. Topography and climate can often come together to complicate the work of a TV production. Using NDI simplifies the situation.”

The Power of an NDI Workflow

The studio set utilizes three NewTek PTZ cameras that provide a native NDI signal to the control room, where the NewTek VMC1 handles the bulk of production. Meanwhile, LiveU equipment and six DAHUA IP dome cameras are located at strategic points around the mountain

“In the end we managed around 16 cameras, plus all the audio, intercom and much more thanks to NDI,” Morrison said. “The VMC1 is the heart of all this because of the amount of signals it handles. Maybe this can be done differently, but surely it would not be so simple.”

Mike Morrison of Alma TV prepping LiveU links to transport camera signals that convert to NDI for use in their TriCaster TC1 and VMC1

Broadcasting Across the Nation

Beyond the snow, AlmaTV has two studios, six mobile units and multiple commitments to carry out live events. This includes first division football matches and the nation’s most important tournament.

In all they do, the Argentine production company is very clear on how the adoption of the NDI standard in their workflow changed everything fundamentally.

“There are other ways to do what we do now with NewTek and NDI, but it is very expensive, and it involves enormous technical complexities, which may include some construction work, even,” Morison said. “I have many projects to be carried out throughout the year. NewTek is at the heart of all of them because their solutions, tailored to our needs, make the work infinitely easier. They respond to our concerns so we can make productions with great quality, at a lower cost, and without complex mechanisms.”

Mike Morrison at the controls of the VMC1 in Alma TV’s Buenos Aires control room

Further, the NDI and NewTek powered workflow means they can continue to be creative with programs – from Winterchannel to news broadcasts to sporting events.

“There will always be a need to think, to define the priority and to establish what and how best to undertake a production,” Morrison said. “But there is no doubt that NewTek’s solutions are very helpful in facilitating a good part of the process, because they are designed to serve the industry from a use perspective with rational technology, with knowledge, with vision, and with a future-proof perspective.”

The Alma TV control in Buenos Aires