Post & network production facilities
Food Network serves up digital production
Suitably located above the bustling Chelsea Market on the west side of Manhattan, Food Network’s corporate and production facility represents a leap forward from its previous locations.
With the move to its new facility, Food Network consolidated what had been separate office and production sites. The two primary objectives: to build a facility that would allow the network’s continued growth of successful new programs, such as “Iron Chef America” and “Food Network Star” and to upgrade to a fully digital facility that could seamlessly transition to HD.
The design and installation was a joint effort by Ascent Media, HLW and Scripps Productions. The initial challenge was to create a contemporary production environment within the raw space of a century-old building, including two production studios; two production control rooms; edit, graphics and audio post rooms; and technical support facilities. Steel girders had to be tied between the walls on each side of the building and elevated above the existing flooring. The infrastructure had to be deemed structurally sound and safe before the project began.
Another objective for the new facility was to build a kitchen that would showcase the network to visitors while also serving as a fully functioning studio. The kitchen was fully wired for audio and video and lighting was tied into the dimmer system. As a result, the kitchen/broadcast facility supplements the 7000sq-ft main studio for a myriad of productions.
Nine Grass Valley LDK5000 HD upgradeable cameras — four mounted on pedestals, three mounted on jibs and two handheld — support the complex that also includes a smaller 2000sq ft studio. Significant attention was paid to the microphone distribution system due to the number of shows with live audiences and multiple band mixes. Last summer, the “Food Network Star” finale was shot live in the kitchen.
The audio control room is based on a Solid State Logic C100 digital broadcast console. It replaces the analog console at the Food Network’s previous facility and allows vastly enhanced flexibility and speed. It addresses all of the production department’s needs, including the ability to create and store recallable setups and to allow different EQ settings and dynamics processing for individual actors to be quickly called and recalled. The facility’s production team also liked the C100 for its ability to route virtually any signal through the entire console and, importantly, the 5.1-channel surround-sound mixing capabilities it provided.
The heart of the production control room is a Grass Valley Kalypso digital production switcher supported by a Pinnacle Deko character generator.
Because most of the equipment was new, training was critical. Ascent Media coordinated a training period with all the major manufacturers that spanned four weeks.
Food Network is now undergoing the HD upgrade. The facility’s post-production division is expected to be fully HD-capable by 2007, with the studio to follow by 2009.