Relocating bit by bit

Crawford moves to new facility without disrupting service to clients

Crawford Communications, which provides post-production, audio, and Internet services, satellite services, and cable-TV operations for 24 major networks, had to move from its seven buildings in midtown Atlanta's Armour Industrial Park when the area was condemned by the local Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. So Crawford utilized a clever "seed-bay" strategy devised by Sony Systems Integration, which allowed it to move 10 miles northeast into an existing Scientific-Atlanta building without interrupting the 24/7 operations of any of its broadcaster clients.

Crawford oversees broadcast operations of such companies as The Discovery Channel, TLC, CMT, The Travel Channel, Fox Latin America Networks and CineCanal Pay TV.

Sony did most of the relocation design, new-system design, physical installation and relocation, and GlobeComm Systems relocated 20 satellite antennas and put up five new ones. Alex Munoz & Associates was the architect, as Beers Specialty Interiors completed the construction, and Layer 3 Communications relocated Crawford's computer systems and Internet-services equipment.

Sony's seed-bay solution involved renovating the new building (adding a new electrical system, heating/AC and plumbing); prewiring the new facility with over a million feet of new video and audio cable, wire and fiber optics; and putting in four additional TV-network-control rooms. Sony also installed new all-digital, surround-sound, HD-capable routing systems; three new 5.1 surround-sound audio suites designed by Tom Hidley; and a new post-production suite (a digital high-def/standard-def hybrid, based on the Snell and Wilcox 1012 video switcher and Accom digital disc recorders).

"We came up with a daily plan of moving the satellite networks with zero dead air," explains Sony Systems Integration Senior Project Manager Greg Quandt. "Crawford copied all the program material, and then we played it back from both the new control room and the old one, monitoring outputs to make sure everything was perfect, before we did the switch-over."

With each network installation at the new location, Sony dismantled the bays at the old building, took the equipment to the new facility, installed it and tested it. Then Crawford copied the tapes and ran each network parallel for two days, making sure that everything was perfectly in sync before the network was switched to its final home.

"The biggest advantage is the brand-new infrastructure," says Crawford President and COO Paul Hansil. "We have a completely new electrical system with uninterruptible power supply, backed up by dual generators, and the entire facility is connected via the NVision high-definition routing system. And by designing it from the ground up, we were able to build in a lot of expansion space for network-control rooms or whatever."

Crawford also took advantage of new construction techniques, utilizing a moveable-wall system by SMED of Canada that allows it to add, change and move all walls in the tech space."