WDBJ Installs AJA Converters

Alan Novitsky
WDBJ has been a member of the community here since 1955 and today we reach about 461,000 households. We are very serious about our news coverage, producing six newscasts per day, Monday through Friday, with four hours of news programming per day.

In 2002 we broke ground on a new digital broadcast center that would inevitably move our news into high definition. The facility launched that May, with the complete switch to HD news in April 2008.

Right now, we're broadcasting 14.5 hours in native HD each day.

At the 2007 NAB Show, I saw AJA's FS1 universal frame synchronizer and converter in operation and knew that we had to have them. The price/performance ratio of the AJA gear made it possible to purchase twice as many FS1s as some earlier units we'd used. There was no compromises in signal quality and the FS1s are so versatile we can use them for just about anything. We've had much experience with AJA converters and are quite satisfied with product reliability and support.

We installed 24 new AJA FS1's to handle up/down/cross conversion and frame syncing duties here. We also use AJA Io LD and Kona LH products in our Final Cut Pro edit suites.

We use the FS1s in news production, but also rely on them for processing our main and backup network feeds. Several of the shows arrive in 720p and we use the FS1s to take the show to 1080i to match our other video.

All of our FS1s in our operation are connected to our engineering control network computer via the FS1 menu-based Web interface. This makes it much easier than using front control panels for setup, as we can see and access all parameters in one place, make number of adjustments at the same time and also track errors accurately.


Another really useful feature of the FS1 is closed captioning translation from EIA-708 to EIA-608 standards. While we've switched to HD in the control room, we're shooting and editing news in 16:9 SD. So if we need to record control room content or downconvert it to SD for cable or satellite, the FS1 allows us to take HD captioning and transcode it to line 21 for standard NTSC. Captioning is often overlooked, but is a legal requirement. Having the ability to transcode it is a huge time saver, eliminating the "go around" caption boxes we relied on in the SD world.

The FS1s have certainly fulfilled the role we intended for them when we set up our station workflow. For the amount of tasks they handle and their price point, it's hard to beat them.

Alan Novitsky is director of engineering at WDBJ, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke. He may be contacted atanovitsky@wdbj7.com.

For additional information, contact AJA at 530-274-2048 or visitwww.aja.com