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CNN’s Los Angeles news bureau updates facility in move to HD


Post & network production facilities

Submitted by
Diversified Systems Design Team

Dave Silver, VP, broadcast eng. support;
Dave Dubiel, sr. dir. of eng. and ops, Western region

Beckson Design Associates:
Michael Beckson, architect

Diversified Systems:
Mike Meglathery, sr. proj. eng.

Technology at work
Apple Final Cut Pro
Avocent KVM platform
Cisco Ethernet switching
Enco audio server
Euphonix MaxAir audio mixer/MADI routing
Fiber optics
L-band routing
MVP processors
Harris NEXIO servers
Laguna Design consoles
Sennheiser wireless
Production switchers
XDCAM optical disk
TANDBERG encoding
Tektronix monitoring
Telex/RTS intercom
Thomson Grass Valley HD/SD-SDI routing
TV Logic LCD displays
Vinten/Radamec remote pan and tilt
Wohler audio monitoring

CNN’s Los Angeles news bureau updates facility in move to HD

The CNN Los Angeles bureau is home to its prime-time “Larry King Live” show. It also produces news and entertainment content for all of the CNN networks. In March 2005, management knew the bureau was in dire need of a major makeover. Space was tight and not ergonomic for bureau personnel, and technical spaces were tucked inside of closets and in hallways. Worse, the facility had critical decade-old broadcast infrastructure components. It was clear that the analog-based facility needed to be upgraded to accommodate CNN’s decision to go HD. In November 2006, CNN selected Diversified Systems to design and implement the new facility. The key design goals were to:

  • Choose equipment in line with CNN’s other facilities, for ease of support and consistency across locations, including “best-in-breed” HD or HD-capable solutions that would accommodate expansion down the road.
  • Anticipate a tapeless HD workflow, but integrate legacy workflow and equipment.
  • Design a space that can better house staff, technical and production personnel and colocate production spaces in close proximity to an appropriately sized terminal gear room.
  • Design a flexible production environment that can fluctuate between two extremes on a daily basis: a prime-time program, with a production staff of a dozen or more, to an overnight operation with one operator.
  • Keep the existing facility on-air.

One new floor and a second repurposed floor in the existing building were provided for technical space. The design goals had to be achieved with minimal impact to existing bureau production and without compromising the on-air product. System integration was coordinated with the architect, consulting engineers, general contractor and building trades in phases. Because CNN was in the midst of developing its approaches to its HD network, Diversified’s engineering team integrated new components into the design right up to the time of installation. This made it difficult to keep up with changes and design documentation, but it meant that the bureau would be the most up-to-date CNN HD facility.

CNN Los Angeles is a 24/7 business. Relocating a news bureau that transmits/receives upward of 40 feeds simultaneously to a new facility was a Herculean task. The bureau could only be brought offline for 30 hours over a single weekend. During that time, all nonupgradeable/nonreplaceable reception and transmission equipment had to be decommissioned, relocated, recalibrated and configured for continued operation within the new facility. The full staff needed to arrive on Monday morning, already trained and ready to operate within the new facility.

In February 2009, the 16-month collaboration will be successful.