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France 3 selects 94 Crystal Vision aspect ratio converters for 69 news sites

Broadcaster France 3 has purchased 94 Crystal Vision aspect ratio converters to fulfil the new legal requirement in France to produce and broadcast in 16:9. The 94 ARC-10MC modules are being used to convert SDI signals from 4:3 cameras to 16:9 for 60 regional offices and nine news-gathering OB vans for both national and regional news, and were selected for their picture quality and price following extensive evaluation.

France 3 is the second largest French public television channel and part of the France Télévisions group, which also includes France 2, France 4, France 5 and France Ô. France 3 is made up of a network of regional television services providing daily news programming along with entertainment and cultural programming each week, and also broadcasts various national programmes including news from Paris.

France 3 evaluated the ARC-10MC against two other aspect ratio converters, including one from its existing interface supplier. The decision was to be made primarily on the quality of the output so that the format conversion did not introduce any quality loss in the signal, and secondly on its price.

In extensive tests the ARC-10MC out-performed the other two aspect ratio converters being evaluated, with superior filtering which produced the best output quality. The ARC-10MC combines 10 bit processing with adjustable detail enhancement and motion adaptive video de-interlacing, which reduces motion blur and maintains good vertical and horizontal resolution. The product selected also had to make good use of rack space because of its integration in the nine OB vans where space is always critical, and the ARC-10MC fulfilled this requirement by being a 4 x 10.5 inches module, with 12 boards fitting in 2RU. In the end France 3 selected the Crystal Vision product, even though they had spare slots available in frames from their current interface supplier at all 69 sites.

France 3 is making use of many of the ARC-10MC’s features. Time was saved on the initial installation of the 94 aspect ratio converters by using the ARC-10MC’s presets for the standard conversions between 4:3 and 16:9. France 3 is additionally using the picture manipulation controls for some post production applications. These include the option to set customized picture sizes by compressing or expanding the picture in line and pixel increments, as well as vertical and horizontal picture offsets and vertical and horizontal cropping which can help maintain the integrity of the original picture in its final 16:9 format.

For the regional news studios the ARC-10MC aspect ratio converters are being housed in 36 desk top boxes, which each hold up to two boards, and which are located immediately at the output of the camera. Nine Indigo 1AE-DP 1RU frames and one Indigo 2AE 2RU frame house the boards inside the OB vans. All control is being done by board edge switches.

The purchase was co-ordinated by Crystal Vision’s French distributor, Network France. Appointed as distributor in early 2009, Network France achieved success so quickly that the company was awarded Crystal Vision’s 2009 New Distributor of the Year award. Founded in 2003 by Managing Director Olivier Gondran and based in Paris, Network France represents a wide range of manufacturers including Nevion, Brick House Video, Dayang and Courtyard.

Based at Whittlesford near Cambridge in the UK, Crystal Vision provides digital keyers, picture storage modules and a full range of digital and analogue interface equipment including converters, synchronizers, distribution amplifiers and audio embedders to the professional broadcasting industry worldwide.