New studio or RF technology — station
Communications Engineering, Inc. Design Team
Jeff Halapin, dir. of eng.;
Chris Bryant, eng. mgr.;
Jim Wylie, maint. supervisor
Herman Reynolds, proj. mgr.;
Felix Pena, dir. of mech. eng.;
Justin King, design eng.;
James Smith, installation supervisor
Technology at work
Barco OverView video wall
Canon HD lenses
DNF universal switch panels
Dolby encoders and decoders
MVP video controller system
Genelec speakers and audio monitors
Harris timing equipment
Image Video tally system
Tektronix video monitors
Vizrt image effects
Wheatstone D-10 audio mixer
Wohler audio and video monitors
WBAL in Baltimore upgrades with a new HD production system
WBAL, the NBC affiliate in Baltimore, began planning to broadcast in HD in early 2007, and station management knew from the beginning that there would be several challenges associated with the HD upgrade. In December 2007, WBAL brought in Communications Engineering, Inc. (CEI) of Newington, VA, to help overcome these challenges. CEI’s primary responsibilities in the upgrade project included designing and constructing a new HD video control room, audio control room, HD news production studio, a core equipment room and a video control area. The project resulted in the complete modernization and expansion of the existing production facilities to allow WBAL to broadcast in HD.
WBAL, which reaches about 1 million households, was able to handle the problem of continuing its news broadcasts during the build-out by temporarily broadcasting from the newsroom. During this time, a new lighting grid and new studio sets were constructed and installed. WBAL also had to locate temporary camera pedestals for its existing cameras so that its permanent robotic pedestals would be available for the new HD cameras.
CEI’s project team worked with WBAL to deal with these problems, as well as develop and refine conceptual and detailed designs, specifications and documentation, in order to ensure the proper design of the technical space, including electrical and mechanical systems. The company also handled console and monitor wall design, as well as equipment procurement and integration. It installed and tested the systems, and trained WBAL personnel on systems operation.
WBAL began live HD broadcasts of several daily programs in November 2008 after the project was completed on time and within budget. The new HD production center features a multiformat production switching, video monitoring, audio mixing and distribution systems; HD studio cameras; and a video monitoring and testing station. Key equipment includes Sony HD cameras and Canon HD lenses; a Sony MVS8000G production switcher; a Wheatstone D-10 audio mixer; a Barco OverView video wall; an Evertz routing system, MVP video controller system and monitoring equipment; Harris timing equipment; Vizrt image effects; Dolby encoders and decoders; DNF universal switch panels; an Image Video tally system; Wohler audio and video monitors; and Sony and Tektronix video monitors.
The WBAL staff believes the impact of the new HD production center and studio was immediately apparent to the viewers. WBAL’s parent company, Hearst-Argyle, is a pioneer in the transition to digital TV and is firmly committed to the future of HD technology, so this upgrade project was an ideal fit for the company’s long-term strategy.