New studio technology — HD
Communications Engineering, Inc. Design Team
Chris Lane, VP of eng.;
Ed Kennedy, sr. dir. of eng. and tech.
Tom Hackett, proj. mgr.;
Felix Pena, dir. of mech. eng.;
Deyan Stoykov, design eng.
Technology at work
HD edit suites
Unity storage system
Dolby encoders and decoders
Evertz monitoring and processing
EVS digital recorder
Image Video tally
Miranda display processor
SSL C100 5.1 console
XDCAM HD field camera systems
XDCAM HD studio decks
Tektronix test equipment
Telex/RTS intercom Thomson Grass Valley HD router
WETA creates HD production center for PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer”
WETA is the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital and the third-largest producing station in the public television system. It was one of the first stations in the country to broadcast HD in 1999 and four-channel multicast digital broadcast in 2002. In 2007, WETA asked Communications Engineering, Inc. (CEI), of Newington, VA, to design, plan and construct a new HD production center that would serve as the home of PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” program.
Having designed and built many of the broadcast facilities at WETA, based in Arlington, VA, including all of the HD and digital facilities implemented over the past 15 years, CEI has in-depth knowledge of the WETA infrastructure and the challenges of upgrading an in-use facility to new technical standards.
CEI began the project in the first quarter of 2007. Careful planning and coordination with WETA allowed CEI to complete this phase of an extensive upgrade for the WETA production center in time for the first scheduled live broadcast on Dec. 17, 2007. “NewsHour,” seen five nights a week on more than 315 PBS stations across the country, became the first live, regularly scheduled PBS program to be broadcast in HD.
Challenges for completing the project included the need to build the control rooms in an active production facility. The space, which was acquired from a conference room, edit suite and reception area, was completely gutted in preparation for the project. A separate air-conditioning system had to be installed for the control rooms. For sound considerations, the air-conditioning unit was placed on the roof of the building, and ducts were run through the second floor to the production rooms on the ground floor.
Additional electric service had to be installed to accommodate all the new equipment in the production center. Acoustical panels were installed along the exterior wall, which faces a busy street. In addition, a drain pipe that would have created sound problems was relocated away from the new control rooms.
The state-of-the-art production facility includes many upgrades: a new HD video control room; a new digital audio control room featuring a 5.1 surround sound console; six new HD studio cameras; three upgraded HD edit suites; an expanded online digital media storage system; four HD field camera systems; two HD studio decks; expanded HD routers; a multiple rear projection display wall; and QC/QA workstations.
In addition to the regular evening broadcast, the “NewsHour” and PBS produced about 24 hours of live, HD prime-time coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention from Denver and the Republican National Convention from St. Paul, MN.