USA Studios Finds Snell Conversion Tops

The USA Studios main production room
NEW YORK: USA Studios has been serving national and international TV and radio outlets for more than 21 years and has one of the largest facilities for state-of-the-art video content distribution in this city. We've added a full range of services, such as domestic and international short and long format distribution, editing and post-production, file encoding, and DVD and new media production. However, international standards conversion remains one of our core services. We're proud that USA Studios was the first in North America to introduce 12-bit standards conversion with 8:8:8 processing and motion correction. Motion-compensated conversion systems from Snell, including our latest acquisition, the Snell Alchemist Ph.C – HD, are the mainstays of our standards conversion business. The Alchemist enables us to tackle even very complicated jobs.

We installed the Alchemist Ph.C – HD last June as part of the move to a brand-new, 10,000-square-foot facility in the heart of Manhattan, and the Alchemist is a cornerstone in a significant upgrade of USA Studios' HD capabilities.

We've built our conversion business on Snell technology, with Snell systems serving us for more than 10 years. Now, the Alchemist Ph.C – HD has enabled us to take our HD work to a whole new level using motion-compensated technology. Going from NTSC or PAL to a film frame rate is one of the most difficult conversions in the industry due to the potential for introducing motion judder and other artifacts. With its Ph.C technology, however, the Alchemist takes this type of conversion in stride, employing a massive amount of computing power. The system tracks every detail in the image to maintain the quality and smoothness in the converted master that's present in the original.

In a recent example in connection with a series of music concerts to be shown cinematically, we were able to convert the HD master's frame rate of 25 frames per second to 24 fps with no discernable difference in quality. The Alchemist Ph.C – HD accomplished this without altering the length of the program or the tempo of the music, as would have happened in traditional 25-to-24 frame conversion.

We've maintained a long and fruitful relationship with Snell. Over the years, our input has resulted in powerful new features for the product, including timecode regeneration, closed caption conversion, and Dolby E processing. We can't say enough about the excellent service we have received from Snell, who have always kept us well-informed and made sure that our feedback was considered.


We've closely evaluated the image quality of every standards converter available, and in side-by-side comparisons, the Snell systems always come out on top. Our confidence in an Alchemist Ph.C – HD conversion has enabled us to offer a worldwide non-rejection guarantee. USA Studios has always been the go-to company for changing whatever our clients have to whatever they need, whether it's changing one tape master to another, converting tape to files, files to tape, or performing the most sophisticated conversions. With the Alchemist, it's easy to deliver on that promise.

Bill Stephan is director of technical operations for USA Studios, with locations in New York City and Los Angeles. He may be contacted at

For additional information, contact Snell at 818-556-2616 or visit