New studio technology – HD
Snell & Wilcox Design Team
Michael Smereski, chief eng.;
Ross Kalber, VP of eng. and IT ops.;
Mark Lumos, design and integration mgr.;
Lance Dickens, dir. of transmission sys.;
Clark McInnis, eng. mgr.;
Glen Jordan, mgr. of transmission sys.;
Brian Shields, CTO Technology at work
Final Cut Pro editors
Avocent KVM system
Evertz MVP multiviewer
Genelec audio monitors
Linear Acoustic audio
Panasonic LCD monitors
Ross SoftMetal server
Snell & Wilcox Kahuna
TBC modular consoles
TANDBERG HD receivers
Thomson Grass Valley
Ultimatte HD chroma
Vinton Radamec Fusion
WSI HD Titan
The Weather Channel takes HD by storm with state-of-the-art facility
In 2008, The Weather Channel completed the migration of its Atlanta broadcast plant to native HD and launched production from a new HD studio — all while maintaining its 24-hour SD broadcast of national, regional and local weather information and programming. The $60 million upgrade included the overhaul of production facilities, including two main production control rooms and one smaller automated control room; the construction of the new studio; and the upgrade of infrastructure, power, and environmental systems supporting HD operations and equipment.
To ensure uninterrupted production, The Weather Channel alternately deployed Snell & Wilcox Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switchers in its main production control rooms. Equipped with FormatFusion technology, the Kahuna systems enable simultaneous SD and HD operations in the same mainframe and the same control panel. The network thus was able to continue producing a high-quality SD feed while preparing HD-capable control rooms for the HD studio launch. The Kahuna’s internal conversion capability allows staff to merge a broad range of SD and HD material provided by external sources, taken from archive or acquired by the network, seamlessly into live broadcasts.
The primary objective across the HD upgrade was to create a highly flexible and dynamic production environment. The state-of-the-art HD studio, a 5000sq-ft LEED-certified facility, reflects this goal, featuring a 360-degree set that can be shot from any angle. A 35ft x 8ft video wall, comprising three Christie 8K rear projection systems linked by a Vista Spyder, displays video and weather graphics from a WSI HD Titan and a Vizrt VizWeather system, as well as monitor fills from a Ross SoftMetal server. An Ultimatte HD chroma keyer feeds a backlit display that rotates to serve as a key-over map in one position and a wall in another. An Avocent KVM system allows anchors to control and modify five 20in on-set screens addressing various weather systems.
The Weather Channel uses Ikegami HDK-75EX cameras with Canon HD lenses in the studio and Panasonic 2000 cameras for live and P2 field record. Switching of video to the set and to the Evertz MVP multiviewer within the control rooms is handled by a Thomson Grass Valley Trinix routing switcher and Encore control. Wheatstone audio consoles support 5.1 channel surround sound audio.
The dynamic file-based workflow and news-style production at The Weather Channel is supported by 11 Final Cut Pro editors on an Apple Xsan HD native editing environment. A separate Xsan volume provides storage and playout for a Building4Media MAM, which interfaces with Avid iNEWS. A new 3Gb backbone supports the entire facility and its unparalleled HD weather coverage.