Al Mashhad builds broadcast facility focused on digital-first production

*This article is originally published on NewscastStudio

Al Mashhad (المشهد), the independent news network spearheaded by journalist Tony Khalife, launched with a digital-first concept intended to appeal to a young Arab audience in January.

The network is leveraging technology and unique storytelling styles to push boundaries in news delivery from its Dubai Studio City headquarters.

Acknowledging the generational shift towards digital consumption in the region, Al Mashhad aims to provide its viewers with engaging, informative content accessible across devices.

Making this new broadcast operation possible is a hybrid infrastructure broadcast facility, combining a variety of production formats and outputs, and two 2,600 square feet broadcast studios.

Overall, the facility is vendor agnostic, relying on a variety of mix-and-match companies with most every major supplier represented.

Studios for virtual and physical production

Studio 1 is designed with virtual as its focus and serves and variety of presenter-driven programs, equipped with augmented reality and virtual set technology powered by Zero Density’s Reality solution with rendering from the Unreal Engine.

A large chromakey cyc is included in the studio which is used with three larger-than-life virtual sets, designed by DreamWall in collaboration with the Kennedy Agency – based in Paris.

These sets are used for an array of programming ranging from more traditional news hours to an interview talk show.

Studio 2, which is designed primarily for news coverage, is wrapped by a 32-foot wide motorized video wall and 16-foot LED array along with three additional motorized video displays.

This studio features a muted palette with embedded lighting on the glossy floor.

Both studios include robotic camera systems from Vinten with Grass Valley LDX-98 cameras and Autoscript prompters. Studio 2 also features a dolly from Blackcam Systems.

Lighting for the spaces was provided by Oasis Enterprises using gear from ARRI and Lupo lighting with an ETC control board.

Control room tech

Diversified provided broadcast engineering and integration services to Al Mashhad, equipping the network’s two production control rooms with Ross Video automation and tools from Grass Valley including a K-Frame Production Switcher and Kayenne Video Production Center control surface, with audio mixing from Lawo and intercom from RTS.

Playout for the facility is handled by Pebble’s software-defined architecture.

Another unique area of the facility is three digital production areas, which include Wirecast systems combined with NDI for rapid productions. These feed into a Ateme Titan encoder before streaming to Al Mashhad’s various platforms.

About Zero Density
Zero Density is a global leader in real-time graphics and virtual studio technologies for the broadcasting, live events, and esports industries. As the leader in gaming technology in broadcasting, Zero Density offers innovative and user-friendly products that have been adopted by some of the world’s largest companies for covering elections, news and major sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics. Headquartered in Turkey, the company also has a US office and serves clients such as The Weather Channel, RTL, Fox Sports and Warner Media.