RTS Mids Centre Weblog
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Mar
01

Peter Heslop, who is leading the implementation of the UK Digital Switch Over project, and Principal Network Design Engineer Neal Ackroyd, will be at Austin Court, Birmingham, on Wednesday, 16 March at 6pm, for the RTS/IET Digital Switch Over presentation. Here are their backgrounds:

Peter Heslop – DSO Programme Director

  • Civil engineering background
  • Over 25 years experience of network infrastructure and roll-out

Peter Heslop is the DSO programme director of Arqiva, which provides transmission and network services to the UK’s broadcasting and mobile communication sectors. Arqiva is responsible for the broadcasting of all terrestrial TV signals as well as BBC radio and the majority of the UK’s commercial radio stations. As such the company is replacing all existing UK terrestrial TV networks with a new high-power network in the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.

As DSO Programme Director, Peter is responsible for ensuring a smooth transition from analogue TV to a digital-only service by the end of 2012, which is the Government-mandated deadline.

Since joining Arqiva’s predecessor in 1980 (the engineering division of the Independent Broadcasting Authority), Peter has held a variety of roles. He started out as part of the Channel 4 build team, responsible for the successful rollout of the transmitter network in 1982. He has also played a key role in the rollout of TV relays, Independent Local Radio (ILR), and Channel 5 as well as the ITV re-engineering project and the introduction of existing low-power DTT. From 1995 to 2005, Peter was responsible for design and management of all Arqiva masts and towers and has held his current role leading DSO since 2005.

Peter graduated from the University of Manchester in 1975 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Neil Ackroyd – Principal Network Design Engineer

Neal Ackroyd is a Principal Network Design Engineer within Arqiva’s Broadcast & Media division, focussing on the Terrestrial TV platform.  He acts as one of the technical points of contact between Arqiva’s broadcast customers and the Digital Switch Over project team.

He joined Arqiva (as NTL Broadcast) in 1998, originally as a Spectrum Planning engineer.  He started work on the frequency planning for Digital Switch Over in 2000, soon after the roll-out of the low-power Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network, supporting the then ITC and later Ofcom.  In 2004 and 2006 he was a member of the UK’s delegation to the ITU Regional Re-planning Conference which agreed the post-switchover frequency plan for approximately a third of the world (Europe, Africa and much of the Middle East).

Neal has worked closely with broadcasters, Ofcom and Digital UK as part of the team that developed the Roll Out Plan order for Digital Switch Over, a process that started in about 2003 and is still ongoing today, and underpins much of what the DSO project team is required to deliver.

You can book online or RTS members can call Terry Stanton on 07831 173123.

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Feb
25

DSO – the greatest project in UK broadcasting

The RTS Mids Centre in conjunction with the Institution of Engineering and Technology is having a joint presentation on the Digital Switchover on March 16, at Austin Court, Birmingham, at 6pm. This free event is with speakers Peter Heslop, DSO Director, Arqiva and Neal Ackroyd, Principal Network Design Engineer, Arqiva.

The Digital Switch Over project peaks in 2011 as some of the largest TV regions move to all-digital transmission. The implementation of this five-year £700m project is a major engineering and logistical exercise, led by Peter Heslop at Arqiva. In this lecture, Peter describes what is involved in DSO, the big challenges that it presents, progress to date, unexpected issues and critical success factors.

The reality is that Arqiva has to replace 5000 existing analogue and 500 lower-power digital transmitters with a new high-power digital network, ideally without anyone noticing! Neal Ackroyd explains how the roll-out plan minimises disruption to existing services, how the new network was designed, and how HD services were incorporated into the main roll-out and in advance of DSO for main population centres.

IET/RTS members can book online. RTS members, you can also book via Terry Stanton on 07831 173123.

Nov
13

RTS Mids Hon Sec Mars Elkins chairs a Q&A session with some of the key Crying with Laughter folk after the screening of the film on the 24th of November. Book a free place via Eventbrite.

They are:

JUSTIN MOLOTNIKOV, WRITER / DIRECTOR

Justin Molotnikov is a writer and director from Scotland who started out making award-winning short films 12 years ago, that toured film festivals worldwide. They include Pan-fried (Scottish BAFTA nomination and winner, Kingussie Film Festival winner) and Poached (Belfort Film Festival winner).

Over the last 8 years his work in TV, children’s favourite My Parents are Aliens (Director), prime-time drama Taggart (Director), offbeat comedy drama High Times (Director) and international co-productions for family viewing Shoebox Zoo (Co Creator and Series Director), has consistently been recognised by the press and industry with multiple awards and nominations (BAFTA, Scottish BAFTA’s, RTS, Celtic Film and TV Festival, Directors Guild of GB, and Banff International TV festival).

CRYING WITH LAUGHTER is his debut feature film as a writer and director. It had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2009 where Justin was selected as a Trailblazer and where film was nominated for the prestigious Michael Powell award. Crying with Laughter has played in competition at Raindance, Dinard and Rotterdam Film Festivals. It recently received 3 BAFTA Scotland nominations in 2009, including Best Writer for Justin, and won Best Feature Film category.

Justin has sat on numerous panels as an industry guest and judge (BAFTA, BBC, Scottish Screen, Screen Academy Scotland), has worked as a tutor for students in film and TV and is skilled in improvisation techniques. He is represented by The Agency (Ian Benson) in London.

STEPHEN MCCOLE, ACTOR

Stephen started in community theatre over 14 years ago. His first roles were with Castlemilk Peoples Theatre and Hopscotch Theatre Company. He has numerous film and television credits including Rushmore, Band Of Brothers, My Name Is Joe, Complicity, Last Orders, Orphans directed by Peter Mullan, winner of nine international awards and The Magdeline Sisters also directed by Peter Mullan.

RACHEL ROBEY & ALASTAIR CLARK, PRODUCERS – WELLINGTON FILMS

Wellington Films was founded in 2000 by producers Rachel Robey and Alastair Clark. Their BAFTA nominated debut feature, London to Brighton earned them the Best Achievement in Production award at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards and a nomination at the London Critics Circle Film Awards for British Film Producers of the Year. London to Brighton was released to widespread critical acclaim by Vertigo Films, and earned director Paul Andrew Williams a BAFTA nomination for the Carl Foreman Award.

NICK McCAFFERY, BRITFILMS

Nick McCaffery set up the website www.britfilms.tv in 2006 in a bid to promote British independent films, as well as work from emerging UK talent. Independent filmmakers from all over the UK utilise http://www.britfilms.tv to get their work in front of a film loving audience. In a bid to further his commitment to up and coming talent, Nick developed and launched the BritFilms 24 Hour Film Challenge, a nationwide event, held in Nottingham and hosted by Cineworld with Fox Studios having provided sponsorship/prizes for this competition in the past.

Taking things a step further, Nick launched an independent distribution label, focusing on the works of up and coming UK filmmakers, as well as cult/classic content that hasn’t not yet been seen in the UK. A multitude of DVDs have been released successfully on this label and following the theatrical release of Crying with Laughter, the label is due to work on getting more of their films into UK cinemas and further their support of British independent film via a number of different initiatives.

Nov
13

Students were also celebrating their victory at the 2010 Student Awards section of the evening.

Winners and nominees are:

Animation Category

Winner – Till Death Do Us Part
Ben Whitehouse for Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University

Christopher Kirk and Ashley Pay for Lincoln School of Media, University of Lincoln

The Fake Zoo for Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University

Entertainment Category

Winner – Roots
Faolan Jones for Confetti Institute of Creative Technology – Nottingham

Rush
Andrew Parker for Art, Media and Design Staffordshire University

Factual Category

Winner – Glued to the Game
Simon Conway for Nottingham Trent University

Empty, Homeless, Occupy
Rosanna Brough for Nottingham Trent University

Digilake
Christopher Butler and Nebeyu Senthyhu for Stoke on Trent College

Fiction Category

Winner – Greasepaint
Philip Steven, Jake Tomlinson and team for Lincoln School of Media

Northmen
Philip Steven, Ben Barzak and team for Lincoln School of Media

Flowers
Jake Tew for Staffordshire University

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Nov
12

Royal Television Society Midlands Centre presents a screening of the award-winning Crying with Laughter. A Q&A session with lead actor Stephen McCole and Synchronicity Films’ Writer/Director Justin Molotnikov will follow where they will discuss the making of the film as well as digital distribution. Event producer and RTS Mids Hon Sec Mars Elkins will chair.

The event is on Weds, 24 November, at The Electric Cinema, 47-49 Station Street, Birmingham. Doors open at 6pm for a 6.30pm screening. Book your free place via http://cwl.eventbrite.com.

Nov
10

Here’s a message from RTS 2010 winner and Land Girls actor, Sophie Ward, to RTS Mids Centre Chair, Isabel Clarke.

Dear Isabel,

Thank you so much to the Royal Television Society Midlands chapter for honouring me with the award last night. I was especially pleased that Land Girls was so well received and thrilled to be personally recognised.

I thought the evening was extremely well run and a great success (I may be a little biased now!). Please pass on my thanks and congratulations to all the members of the board.

Yours,
Sophie Ward

Nov
05

Last night was a successful event. Many congratulations to the nominees and winners of this year’s Midlands Centre awards. Thank you to the hosts Emma Willis and Ed James for doing such a sterling job.

Also, thanks to RTS Mids Hon Sec Mars Elkins for this blog post:

The prestigious University of Birmingham’s Great Hall played host to the 2010 Royal Television Society Midlands Centre Awards last night. The event, which also celebrated the Centre’s 50th anniversary, saw the cream of the Midlands’ digital, broadcast and television communities being honoured for the outstanding work they have done in the past year.

Top producers and celebs joined hosts Emma Willis (MTV, I’m A Celebrity…) and Ed James (Heart FM) on the night.

Best Regional Programme went to The Man Who Shrank the Globe – AB Media for BBC East Midlands and a special commendation went to Made in Birmingham – Reggae Punk Bhangra – Swish Films.

This year, the Awards committee introduced a new category – Best on Screen Game. The decision was based on the growing games community being produced in the region. It was also a privilege to have met Inspector Morse writer, Colin Dexter. He was given the top prize of the night – the Baird Medal – for his contribution to broadcasting.

Here are the winners of the night:

Best Promotional Programme
Disabled and Living in Walsall – Pat The Bull Films

Best Drama

TV Drama
Land Girls – BBC Drama

Best Short Film
Handle with Care

Best Acting Performance

Male
Danny Webb

Female
Sophie Ward

Best Newcomer
Becci Gemmell

Best Digital Innovation
Such Tweet Sorrow – Mudlark

Best Entertainment
Countrywise (War of the Roses) – ITV Central

Best On Screen Personality

Male
Bob Warman – ITV Central

Female
Sameena Ali-Khan – ITV Central

Best New Talent
Dave Stephenson – Fullrange

Best On Screen Game
Battle of Britain 303 Squadron, Fish in a Bottle for Channel 4

Best Production Craft Skills
Neil Hillman – The Audio Suite

Best News
Central Tonight – ITV Central

Best Current Affairs
White Collar Boxing – Andy Bevan, ITV Central

Best Documentary
The Man Who Shrank the Globe – AB Media for BBC East Midlands

Best Regional Programme
The Man Who Shrank the Globe – AB Media for BBC East Midlands

Baird Medal
Colin Dexter OBE

More images can be seen on the RTS Mids Facebook Fan page.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. As Hon Secretary of RTS Mids Centre, it’s very nice to see a thriving digital and television community here in the Midlands that are making an impact not just nationally but internationally as well. I am very much looking forward to the 2011 entries already!

Oct
30

The RTS Mids Centre presents a look through the archives at the history of Television Outside Broadcasts in the UK with Norman Green. Starting in 1937 and taking one through to the early 1980’s, the presentation, which is non-technical, will show how programme makers pushed technology to show a world most people could only read about.

The ‘Glory Days’ is mainly comprised of video material both from in front and behind the camera, much of which has not been seen in public before or since its original transmission.

Places are limited, so please ensure you book via http://gloryob.eventbrite.com.

About Norman Green

Norman started his career at EMI Research Laboratories before joining the Engineering Department of ABC Television, where he worked on investigations into various colour systems for film in television. He later designed and built the first computer controlled presentation and master control system in Europe for Thames Television.

In 1972, Norman was appointed the first Head of Engineering at the ITCA, where he was responsible for the 16 ITV Programme Companies and ITN. He was responsible for the management of ITV’s three technical development laboratories in London, Manchester and Glasgow. The laboratories’ activities covered a wide spectrum of projects embracing new audio, video and data systems and solving particular problems for the ITV Network. They were responsible for the development of the first all digital video studio control suite in the world and designed Europe’s first mobile High Definition Television production and post-production facility.

As Head of Technology for ITV Norman was a member of many national and international committees concerned with the technical standardisation of television. As a member of the EBU Bureau he represented all British Broadcasters, both radio and television, including the BBC.

After the change of ITV franchises in 1992, Norman left the ITCA in 1995 and became a consultant. Work for the ITC, ITFC and the DTI followed. At the Department of Trade and Industry he was Project Manager of the Interactive Multimedia Digital Test Bed Project that supported many projects related to digital television and DVB. 35 years ago he received the Fellowship of The Royal Television Society for an outstanding contribution to the development of television.

In 2005 Norman was invited to give the Annual IET John Logie Baird Memorial Lecture entitled The EMI Contribution to the Development of Practical Television – ‘The Dream Team’ – a history of the enormous contribution EMI gave to the development of electronic television.

Oct
19

This year’s RTS Midlands Centre Awards is going to be on the 4th of November held at the impressive University of Birmingham Great Hall. Here are the nominees:

Best Promotional Programme
Working for You – Tinker Taylor
Disabled and Living in Walsall – Pat The Bull Films
Be Active – Television Junction
Transforming Lives – Rebecca Battman
Facing the Fat – IdeasLab

Best Drama

TV Drama
Doctors – BBC Drama
Land Girls – BBC Drama

Best Short Film
Stained
Trolley
Handle with Care
The Interviewee
The Moon Bird

Best Acting Performance

Male
Danny Webb
Chris Walker
Stavros Flatley

Female
Elisabeth Dermot Walsh
Sophie Ward

Best Newcomer
Nicholas Woodman
Charlie Clemmow
Becci Gemmel

Best Digital Innovation
Embarrassing Bodies Live – Maverick
Such Tweet Sorrow – Mudlark
WeVee – InCahoots

Best Entertainment
Countrywise (War of the Roses) – ITV Central
The Man Who Shrank the Globe – AB Media
Countrywise (Guernsey) – ITV Central

Best On Screen Personality

Male
Bob Warman – ITV Central
Paul Heiney – ITV Central
Stavros Flatley – Aquila TV

Female
Marverine Cole – Sky
Sameena Ali-Khan – ITV Central
Lucy Kite – ITV Central

Best New Talent
Lucy Watson – ITV Central
Dave Stephenson – Fullrange
David Poole – The Interviewee
Deborah Aston – Made In Birmingham
Anna Louise Shelton – Trolley

Best On Screen Game
Keepy Uppy, Fish in a Bottle
Battle of Britain 308 Squadron, Fish in a Bottle

Best Production Craft Skills
Lewis Arnold – Stained
Neil Hillman – The Audio Suite – Handle With Care
James Willson – AB Media
Dave Stephenson – Fullrange
Andrew Fox – Inspirations: Bringing Education to the Himalayas, Maverick
Paul Thompson – Countrywise, ITV Central

Best News
Central Tonight – ITV Central

Best Current Affairs
Balls to Poverty – Peter Bearne, ITV Central
White Collar Boxing – Andy Bevan, ITV Central
65th Arnhem Anniversary – Keith Wilkinson, ITV Central
Time Warp – Victoria Davies, ITV Central

Best Documentary
Embarrassing Bodies – Maverick
The Man Who Shrank the Globe – AB Media for BBC East Midlands
Made In Birmingham – Birmingham Popular Music Archive
Countrywise – ITV Central

Good luck to everyone and see you on the 4th!

Oct
19

This year’s Baird Lecture featured the RTS and multi-award-winning Embarrassing Bodies team. The panel consisted of Channel 4’s Adam Gee; presenter Dr Christian Jessen, Executive Producer Steph Harris and chaired by New Media Producer Alex Hryniewicz.

Many thanks to regional screen agency Screen West Midlands for the video documentation of the session and to Aquila for the videos.

RTS Baird Lecture – Part 1 from Mr Nat Higginbottom on Vimeo

RTS Baird Lecture – Part 2 from Mr Nat Higginbottom on Vimeo

RTS Baird Lecture – Part 3 from Mr Nat Higginbottom on Vimeo