WKYT Taps Thomson Aurora for HD News

by Chas Callaway
Vice President of Engineering WKYT-TV

Earlier this year, WKYT-TV became the first station in this market to produce its newscasts in high definition, as we felt it gave us a competitive advantage. Some of the other stations had been talking about it, but we beat them by putting together a separate HD operation within our existing production facility. Perhaps the biggest challenge was moving the station’s operations from a part-time high-definition channel to 24/7 HD broadcasting without disrupting the existing operations.

We produce nearly eight hours of local newscasts each day—six for our operation and 1 1/2 hours of news for the local Fox affiliate—in a very fast-paced newsroom environment. A streamlined workflow without any compromises was critical. We also needed a shared storage editing environment to support this—one that could handle a variety of projects and allow our editors to work at a fast rate. That’s why we chose the Thomson Grass Valley Aurora platform. It gives us real-time processing speed and the flexibility to work with different formats.

For our studio applications, we use a Thomson Grass Valley Ignite HD integrated production system, along with four Thomson Grass Valley HDC robotic cameras for capturing images in full 1080i HD. We’re using Sony XDCAM camcorders for newsgathering. All of this material is ingested into a 400-hour Thomson Grass Valley storage area network linking six Thomson Grass Valley Aurora HD editing workstations for cutting news packages. Live shots are currently done in SD and we’ll continue this until our BAS microwave spectrum relocation has been completed.


The Grass Valley Aurora Edit software enables editors to work quickly and in a highly collaborative way, something they were never able to do before. In fact, the editors can begin working while the footage from the XDCAM HD disc is being ingested. This helps get breaking stories to air quickly. Selected stories and field footage are archived on Blu-ray, labeled and stored. Producers and editors use the ENPS system to locate images on specific disc numbers when searching for past footage.

WKYT-TV broadcasts the University of Kentucky Basketball Network and has game footage from the past 30 years. This enhanced search and retrieve capability comes in handy when we’re trying to locate archival footage.

The best part about the Thomson Grass Valley Aurora platform is that we remain in the same environment for the entire lifecycle of a news package. We digitize media within the Aurora Ingest application, work on a project in Aurora Edit, and then output that finished news segment to Aurora Playout. The associated metadata travels along with the media and can be accessed for a variety of tasks (e.g., clip management on a server) that streamline the production process.


To our technical staff’s credit, we first went live in HD with our 11 p.m. local newscast, just six months after starting discussions on making the move. Our investment in a file-based workflow allows us to get stories to air faster then ever before and we now have more elements in our newscasts. The Thomson Grass Valley Aurora news production suite of tools has been a big part of our migration. Our editors collaborate more and viewers benefit from this.

Chas Callaway is WKYT-TV’s vice president of engineering and has been with the station for 27 years. He may be contacted at chas@wkyt.com.

For additional information, contact Thomson Grass Valley at 800-547-8949 or visitwww.thomsongrassvalley.com.