Inauguration Carried in HD

January 21, 2005
President George W. Bush was sworn to a second term as U.S. President on Jan. 20 in a ceremony that was carried in high definition on network television.

Although all the networks carried a full day of inaugural activities, ABC’s "Good Morning America" was first to begin broadcasting the day in HD. Most Washington network broadcast affiliates carried the networks’ feeds, with break-ins at various times for locally slanted coverage. Cable channels, such as CNN, C-SPAN and MSNBC, put their own face on standard-definition coverage.

For the first time, live HD cameras were used to capture the inaugural events. Some HD cameras were mobile, relying on COFDM wireless links to DCI Teleport, a Washington provider of media connection and uplinking services. In addition to having mobile and fixed HD cameras, ABC had HD cameras located at the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery, fed back to the network’s control center using Nucomm microwave equipment and JVC MPEG-2 encoders/decoders.

In time for Inauguration Day, DCI Teleport established a wireless CODFM system in downtown Washington that provides HD or SD signals within a 2.5-mile radius of the White House.

"We provide live camera positions for transmission throughout the city for special events and recurring daily news feeds," said Tom Fabian, head of commercial services for DCI Teleport. "In addition to that, we have a teleport facility that enables transport of material between Washington and [international locations]."

Japanese network NHK, one of DCI Teleport’s regular clients, asked the company to provide HD service in Washington and this got the ball rolling to build-out an HD-capable system. DCI Teleport keeps an HD ENG vehicle ready 24 hours to provide breaking news coverage for NHK. Another of DCI Teleport’s HD clients is HD News, which is part of the Voom satellite offerings.

DCI Teleport uses 45 Mbps microwave links to ship HD and SD video signals around Washington, and this capability was used extensively for inauguration activities. One of the COFDM mobile unit followed the inaugural parade as it moved from the Capitol to Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.

Local stations in Washington also provided significant coverage tailored to local audiences. For example, CBS-affiliate WUSA had an anchor team on the roof of the Department of Commerce Building to coordinate coverage of the parade, demonstrations and other local activities. WUSA used two 270-Mbps fiber links to connect the remote location to the studio and even supplied prompter feeds to the remote site from the studio.

Government cable network C-SPAN put its own style of coverage on the inaugural events, providing commentary-free sound and images starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending with several of the black-tie balls late in the evening.

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