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CNN New York

Since the 1980s, CNN has been expanding their international news organization beyond their original Atlanta location to include facilities around the globe. The latest move for CNN involved the renovation and construction of two facilities in New York City to accommodate two news shows built around Connie Chung and Paula Zahn. The Systems Group was appointed to plan and execute the project that included the renovation of the CNNfn facility at 5 Penn Plaza and the construction of the new street side studio located in the Time Life Building in midtown Manhattan.

Early in the planning process for the 5 Penn Plaza project, CNN announced plans to create the new studio facility in the former Time Life building. The new studio would have to be controlled remotely from the 5 Penn location. The Systems Group worked with CNN to combine both projects into one project effort, centralizing the communication process with the client and reducing fixed overhead costs. The goals for both projects were clearly defined from the outset, including a seamless operational transfer from analog to digital at 5 Penn and the design of an efficient and flexible studio uptown.

Sony HDC 950 video cameras were employed in the Time Life studio, providing HD capability for the future along with SD quality for the initial launch. The cameras were mounted on Quattro studio pedestals. A Yamaha O2R digital audio mixer fulfilled the audio production duties.

The 601 upgrade at 5 Penn Plaza required close coordination between TSG and CNN engineering teams and included the upgrade of two production control rooms and expanding the routing connectivity feeds to two smaller existing studios. GVG 4000 3 M/E production switchers were employed along with a Thomson Trinix SDI video router with a 256 × 256 channel matrix and active carding for a 160 × 160 matrix. AVenus analog audio router with active carding for a 256 × 256 matrix was also installed. Sony PVM and BVM video monitors were used with the two facilities using Telex KP32 intercom key panels for communication.

New systems were cut into the existing on-air operation in a highly coordinated manner with no impact to the home viewer. Sony BVP 950 cameras were initially employed using analog and digital outputs that were both fed through the systems while testing was underway. Once the rooms were complete and the digital systems were in place, the Sony HDC 950's replaced the BVP 950 units.

The 5 Penn Plaza studios went from analog to a fully digital 601 operation within a six-week period. In addition, both the 5 Penn Plaza and Time Life installations focused on heavy design and detail.

Once all the smoke cleared, CNN had a showpiece facility for its high profile talent and their expanding New York presence.

Design Team

Jeff Gershgorn, director of engineering
Dave Slack, director of operations
Tim Sloan, project manager
Jesse Spilka, project manager

The Systems Group:
John Zulick, engineer for 5 Penn Plaza
John Holt, senior engineer, Time Life
Paul Rogalinski, senior project manager
Darwin Clermont, installation supervisor
D.J. Rice, installation supervisor
Steve Losquadro, lead technician
Hemant Ganesh, lead technician

Equipment List

Thomson video and audio routers
Yamaha O2R digital audio mixer
GVG 4000 3 M/E production switchers
Vinten Quattro studio pedestals
Telex intercom key panels KP32
Sony cameras and video monitors