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Epic TV Goes HD With Hamlet's Help

NORWICH, England
Epic TV derives its name from the East of England Production Innovation Centre based here. We were formerly a network production base, but are now funded in part by local government and the regional economic development body. The idea was not to create just a modern television facility, but also a center for business and for training that would establish Norwich and the surrounding region as a leading digital creative community.

Part of the project was to completely modernize the existing three studios. We have a large (6,000 square foot) production studio with audience space, a smaller studio for talk shows and a fully equipped virtual studio for creative productions. The renovation work was completed in 2008, with the large studio, and one of the smaller studios, being converted for HD operations.

David Hazel The whole investment program amounted to around $2.27 million, and the high-definition capability puts us in the enviable position of being the only independent, completely HD studio in the United Kingdom.

Our equipment includes Sony cameras, a Thomson Grass Valley production switcher and a Calrec mixer. As part of the retrofit, we installed fiber camera connectivity in addition to the existing triax infrastructure, so that we would be ready for 3 Gbps operation when it becomes necessary. It certainly appears to be on the horizon.

NEEDED QC MONITORING

We needed a means for checking and maintaining excellent signal quality throughout the complex and installed two Hamlet devices: a MonitorScope 9000 and a DigiScope 9000. Both of these were equipped for waveform, vector and audio monitoring in both SD and HD modes.

The two monitoring devices are electronically identical: the DigiScope is a 1 RU rackmount device with a routable output that allows us to observe its display anywhere it's needed. The MonitorScope also offers Hamlet's on-screen display system, but includes an integral high-resolution TFT screen in the familiar half-width 3 RU form factor.

FLEXIBLE DESIGN

Both instruments are based on Hamlet's proprietary all-digital platform, which is also the power within the company's portable Flexiscope and Microflex tools. This is a modular system, and was designed to be flexible, allowing users to change functionality quickly and simply by swapping an identity module. At Epic TV, we have both HD/SD and SD/CST modules available for our units. For some time now we've used a Hamlet portable device for roving monitoring around the building. We found the digital platform to be extremely good technically—it's very stable and we have detected no drift at all.

We chose the new tools on the basis of this experience, and because they do exactly what we want them to do. The instruments are fine examples of good products at a good price. Hamlet is based near to us, and we get excellent service from them. They are extremely responsible whenever we've contacted them.

Because of this close relationship, we will shortly be testing the next module for Hamlet's digital test platform, which includes an eye test for digital signal integrity. We expect the software to be available for beta testing in time for the finished product to be released at the NAB Show in April.

David Hazel worked for ITV and Anglia Television for more than 17 years as an engineer and manager, later joining Epic studios where he is head of engineering. He may be contacted through the company's Web site, info@epic-tv.com.

For additional information, contact Hamlet Video International at 605-339-0100 or visitwww.hamlet.us.com.