NJPAC broadcast operations
Not too long ago, Panasonic released info about the broadcast package they created for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), which was designed to transform NJPAC into a world-class broadcast center. With this upgrade, NJPAC now stands alone as the most advanced and best-equipped to handle all aspects of video production within its own facility.
This initiative has given them the flexibility to move programming beyond its four walls directly into theaters, classrooms and living rooms, and it’s something that’s especially relevant to content creators of all sizes. Professionals at every level realize that becoming involved in and handling more of the content creation process is essential.
To explore some of what this development means, we talked with Keith Hanak, who manages the audio-visual business for Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company. We asked him about what this upgrade has meant for the NJPAC, what these sort of initiatives mean in a practical sense, how important it is to understand disruption and plenty more.
ProVideo Coalition: News about what you were able to do for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center was made available in early March, but from where you sit, what sort of an upgrade did this represent for the NJPAC?
Keith Hanak : The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) project was an important one for both NJPAC and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America. After relocating our headquarters to Newark, New Jersey a year and a half ago, Panasonic had an opportunity to meet with NJPAC executives who had expressed a desire for a complete renovation and upgrade to their facility, in order to provide cutting edge services to their clients and a top-flight in-person experience for their customers. Our team developed a detailed list of action items that were implemented in collaboration with NJPAC, with the end goal of helping NJPAC to reinvent itself and solidify its world-class status.
What sort of programming are they now able to create/ broadcast that they couldn’t do before?
A combination of new facility infrastructure, additional image-capturing equipment, and portable purpose-built production systems installed by our team allows NJPAC to play back special events, execute point-in-time advertising, broadcast from different locations outside the center, in addition to a number of other capabilities.
It brings a state-of-the-art broadcast facility to Newark that allows them to compete with other top venues in the world, which is a wonderful thing to be a part of in our home town.
Was the catalyst around this the new opportunities the venture would create, or around the cost savings it represented?
The catalyst around this project was about the opportunities the new equipment would create for NJPAC and their customers, as well as exposing more young people to the broadcast industry and stimulate interest in potential careers in television production. Panasonic is committed to the city of Newark and we believe that the transformation of NJPAC into a leading broadcast center will have a positive impact on educational and career opportunities in the TV production industry in New Jersey.
As an added bonus, NJPAC clients will notice significant cost savings and increased efficiencies across all areas of broadcast production, including reduction in load-in and load-out days, a minimized use of temporary cables, supplying portable broadcast fly packs instead of equipment rentals and providing greater availability to in-house broadcast cameras and interfaces.
Are these sorts of upgrades/changes a necessity or a luxury for organizations like the NJPAC?
To remain competitive and position itself for long-term success, NJPAC recognized the advanced technology solutions we recommended were an essential component of their vision. We added a number of interfaces, internal fiber and additional cameras to support broadcasting capabilities within NJPAC in addition to the ability to broadcast across multiple platforms from other sites such as theaters, classrooms and living rooms.
The performing arts environment business model is changing, with more and more programs struggling to secure funding and increased competition for top-flight programming. NJPAC viewed this project as a strategic investment in its future to position themselves for expansion, create new revenues and fulfill their mission to present the best of the arts to uniquely diverse audiences.
How important are things like embracing non-traditional initiatives and the ability to stream across multiple platforms?
NJPAC has always embraced non-traditional initiatives such as network and cable television broadcasts within the arts center, it’s just that the capability wasn’t quite there. This total facility upgrade strengthens NJPAC’s appeal by offering clients a world-class broadcast center in the proximity of NYC, equipped with the latest technology, at a fraction of the cost. NJPAC is an ideal location for high-profile programs such as America’s Got Talent and The Price is Right, among many others. These type of broadcasts drive great revenue into the Newark area, and Panasonic is proud of our partnership with them in helping to make that happen.
Specifically, how was Panasonic able to add to the organization’s broadcast production, operation and technical presentation functions?
Panasonic installed new HD infrastructure, brand new cabling, a variety of new interaction points for cameras that NJPAC needs for special events, and upgraded all of the cameras and camera interfaces in the control room at key points within the presentation areas. The portable fly pack systems I mentioned earlier are able to move around the facility, acting as several production systems in a box.
How much does Panasonic focus on these “big picture” issues that go far beyond necessary hardware upgrades?
At Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, our approach is consultative, to truly collaborate with clients, listening to their needs and asking questions to really understand their business objectives on a deeper level. We then work to develop a customized solution that answers their need and exceeds expectation. The business insight NJPAC provided allowed Panasonic engineers to design a total technology solutions package that surpassed their initial request. With ‘bigger picture’ thinking, Panasonic ensured that NJPAC received the professional equipment and dedicated onsite support necessary to stand out among the world’s top performing arts centers.
Were the people at the NJPAC surprised to find out how many different solutions Panasonic had available for them?
Our customers are typically aware of the reputation we have for delivering the latest technology solutions across a broad range of applications. We’ve found that clients are pleasantly surprised by how invested we are in the collaborative piece of the puzzle. We understand that each project brings a unique set of challenges and objectives, and our willingness to dive in, become business partners and find the perfect solution is something they really appreciate.
How important is it for organizations and even individuals to make sure their technology and approach to business evolves and changes alongside a similar evolution and disruption that we constantly see throughout media & entertainment?
That’s a great question – media and entertainment, much like technology, are such competitive industries. The pace of innovation is torrid and we often find that the ability to compete comes down to adaptability. How flexible can you be to solve new challenges? That’s one of the reasons we’re having so much success with this collaborative approach to technology solutions. We’re creating lasting partnerships with our customers, rather than rigid, one-size-fits-all solutions. For a customer like NJPAC, that partnership and willingness to stand behind the work for years to come gives them the confidence to continue pushing the envelope and expand their business boundaries to take advantage of new opportunities as they present themselves.
What are your essential take-aways from this endeavor that organizations of similar and different sizes will find relevant?
We believe it’s crucial to keep an open mind and work collaboratively. The NJPAC renovation process – from the initial meetings to project completion – took more than a year. At first, we planned on rebuilding a production facility for a TV station. As we dug deeper into what the potential problems would be for NJPAC and appraised their clients’ needs, we realized that a course change was needed to renovate the entire facility with new technology that would ultimately deliver far more long-term value and ROI (return on investment). That open-minded approach provided the project with a level of flexibility to explore additional possibilities and add-ons that were critical in achieving the end goal. We’re thrilled with the outcome. More importantly, our customer and their customers are highly satisfied. As their Newark neighbor, we look forward to continuing to support their endeavors in any way we can.