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AJA Video technology converts signals for 'Conan'

With their live-to-tape show requirements changing virtually every day, producers and crew for the “Conan” show on TBS have to deal with varying issues involving monitoring, computers, new camera feeds and sometimes even video material that guests bring onto the show. A large complement of AJA Video mini-converters is used to accommodate whatever needs arise.

The one-hour variety show is shot in front of a live studio audience in Burbank, CA. While the show is prerecorded, it’s produced and edited as if it were live because the East Coast feed is transmitted one hour after taping wraps. The show uses more than 90 mini-converters, including the AJA Hi5, HA5, HD10CEA, HD10C2 and HD10DA products.

Chris Savage, lead camera utility on "Conan,” said the biggest benefit of using AJA mini-converters is their portability.

“Being able to plug and unplug, and not have to go to a rack or moreover to another building to patch and downconvert or reclock, is a huge advantage,” Savage said.

In the studio, there are more than a dozen 60in LCD monitors mounted above the audience in the seating area. The stage was initially designed to run an SD signal to those monitors, but in production, the feed interfered with fluorescent lighting on stage and caused a roll in the picture. The show turned to AJA Hi5 mini-converters to convert the HD-SDI signal to HDMI to drive an HD feed of the program on the monitors. The Hi5s provided a quick, easy and cost-effective solution that was easily integrated with the existing production infrastructure.

For the show’s “Conan Video Blog” segments, the AJA HA5 mini-converter is used to pull a video signal from a laptop used in the broadcast. AJA KONA 3 and KONA LHi capture cards are also used as part of the show’s Apple Final Cut Pro editing workflow, and AJA VTR Xchange software is used for remote deck control via the KONA card's RS-422 interface.

The gear was installed in a new production studio built on Stage 15 on the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank. Systems integrator Keycode Media designed and installed all post-production systems for the project, including editing and server systems (including a Grass Valley K2 SAN, Apple Final Cut integration and Chyron graphics). NEP Broadcasting installed multiple Grass Valley K2 media servers, three K2 Summit production clients running ChannelFlex, three K2 Dyno replay controllers on a K2 production SAN, a K2 Dyno production assistant and a 180 x 256 Trinix NXT router.