KCNC upgrades production control room

For many years, KCNC-TV, Denver's CBS O&O station, used an analog production switcher for newscasts and live programs. When it became time for the station to transition to digital, the production control room's equipment limitations became clear. An upgrade of the switcher as well as the entire production facility was necessary.

Design and implementation

The staff wanted to improve workflow and implement HD while still controlling costs. To improve workflow, furniture was designed and constructed to minimize eye travel while enhancing visibility and operator access to control surfaces. The design required a three-part installation and implementation plan to limit the impact on the station's daily news operation. Also, the facility needed to deliver SDI signals at the onset and allow for an easy upgrade to HD-SDI later. The station selected Denver-based Burst to design and build the new production facility.

The first phase of the project focused on demolition of the space occupied by the old standby Production Control Room B and the NLE room adjacent to it. The space was reconfigured to accommodate the new video production furniture, which supports a director, technical director (TD) and associate producer, who doubles as the live coordinator. After these positions were completed and tested, the Sony MVS-8000 switcher was installed. Staff training and shadowing then started. Once the staff was comfortable with the new operation, the first newscast from the new room was aired.

The second phase began with deconstructing the space housing the old switcher and its associated operating positions to make room for the new audio booth. The new audio booth was then built along with an audio overbridge. The console and associated equipment was then reinstalled.

In the third phase, the facility was readied for the CG operator and the executive producer. The old audio booth was torn out, allowing the construction of an extension of the elevated floor next to the audio booth. Installation of the remaining furniture and equipment for the CG operator and the executive producer ended the final phase.

Equipment decisions

The new switcher met the station's needs to provide SDI now and HD-SDI in the future. The facility also installed Belden 1695A cable and matching patch panels capable of handling HD-SDI.

Miranda K2 Kaleido multi-image processors drive the Clarity Lion 67in rear projection monitors. The monitors require a fair amount of space, so the room design was driven in large part by their footprint and visibility from the various operating positions. Burst completed designs for the technical furniture and collaborated with interior designer Gulash Designs on the final room layout.

High Tech Furnishings designed, built and installed the furniture. The cabinetry had to support good visibility and easy operator access to key equipment. Important control and monitor surfaces were placed at an optimum range for the operator's reach. The cabinet face was tilted back for visibility, while the top two rack spaces in each cabinet were moved closer to the operator. This places the top two rack spaces closer to the operator without impacting visibility or interfering with the line of sight over the top of the cabinetry.

Gefen DVI fiber extenders feed the Clarity monitors' DVI inputs. The rear projection monitors are mounted adjacent to each other across the front of the room. Two of these monitors are located directly in front of the TD, yet the entire array is visible from all positions. Operators can view key signals for each position on nearby monitors. Wohler flat-screen arrays provide backup monitoring for critical signals at each position.

Part of the news operation involves a room called News Gathering Operations. This room is located adjacent to the existing newsroom. Here the live remote broadcasts are set up, coordination with the remote sites is checked and verified, and each remote signal is assigned to one of an array of frame synchronizers. The new frame synchronizer arrangement allows simultaneous delay of audio and video, which helps avoid lip sync problems. Multiple remote signals can be managed via frame synchronizers embedded in dedicated A-D converters. Analog signals not converted directly to SDI are available via tie lines, which connect the analog routing environment into the digital environment via A/D converters. Within the SDI environment, audio is embedded.

Difficulties faced

A major challenge was building a new production room within the space occupied by existing production room facilities, while simultaneously producing six hours of live news. The build-out had to occur without impacting news operations. This required careful planning and coordination, as well as open lines of communication.

Furthermore, the design needed to provide ready access to the associate producer and the CG operator without disturbing the remaining functions of the room. Additionally, the audio operator, executive producer and CG operator needed to be on an elevated platform behind the video production furniture where they could enjoy clear views of the monitor wall.

The design accomplished station objectives, although a major structural element that partially obscured the CG operator's view of the monitor wall required a change of plans. Because the CG operator has close-in monitoring of key signals, KCNC considered this to be acceptable.

The most difficult part of the project was rearranging the racks and equipment in the rack room. This required close coordination between Burst and station engineering personnel. The old racks were emptied and removed. Then, new racks were installed and electrical power was connected.

Because the old switcher was still in operation at the time it was moved, this required careful scheduling. Adequate time was needed to shut it down, disconnect the wiring, move the switcher and its support equipment, reconnect the wires, bring the equipment back online, test it and troubleshoot any difficulties. Additional equipment moves involved a Chyron Duet; an Aprisa 300 clip server, SSX still store and VCS video clip server; and an Accom DVEous retrofitted for SDI.

In the process of reassigning equipment to racks, Burst completed a rack heat and power study that optimized the use of rack spaces to avoid heat problems and assure adequate electrical power and HVAC.

Besides learning a new switcher, the operators were faced with two other important challenges. As is so often the case, a room's size, shape and access will dictate the placement and functionality of the room. The situation here was no exception.

In the old production control room, the TD sat to the left of the director, who sat to the left of the producer, who sat to the left of the associate producer. In the new space, the room dictated the arrangement to be exactly opposite. This meant that people accustomed to looking to their right for visual cues would be looking to their left instead.

The second challenge was becoming accustomed to monitoring on virtual monitor walls instead of glass monitors. Because the operators were accustomed to the look and feel of glass monitors, the new environment took a little getting used to.

The end result

The transition from the old facility to the new one was not without its hiccups, but they were minor. Communication between the station's engineering staff and Burst was excellent. This, combined with an established and positive working relationship with the interior designer and general contractor, resulted in a successful project.KCNC is proud of its HD-ready control room, which is now delivering clean newscasts and live programs.

Tom Norman, CPBE, is a senior project manager with Burst.

Design team


Scott Barella, vp engineering
Tom Norman, sr. engineer
Brent Bullock, sr. sales executive
Letha Koepp, admin. project mgr.
David Gertner, lead installer
Marc Anisimow, installer
Jason Meisenberg, installer
Danny Rowland, installer
Doug Kanczuzewski, furniture


David Layne, dir. op., engineering
Pat Brus, mgr. engineering
Mike Blake, engineer
Collette Calvert, technical dir.
David Harder, technical dir.

Technology at work

Accom DVEous

ADC PPI2232RS-MVJ patch panel

Belden 1695A cable

300 clip server
SSX still store
VCS video clip server

Clarity Lion rear projection displays

500AMDA/VMDA DA/converter
7720ADC-A4 Audio A-D
7735CDM/CEM converters
7736CDM/CEM converters
7745FS-EAES frame sync

Gefen DVI fiber extenders

High Tech Furnishings desks

Miranda Kaleido K2 processors

Sony MVS-8000 switcher

Wohler RM-2440 Quad LCD monitor