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KEYE-TV brings local HD newscasts to Austin viewers

KEYE-TV, the CBS O&O in Austin, TX, launched its local newscasts in HD Nov. 1, the culmination of a planning process that spanned eight years.

At that time, station chief engineer Arthur Smith and associate Dusty Granberry sat down at NAB1999 at the direction of then-station-owner Granite Broadcasting and charted out a plan to make the transition to HD, including HD local news, recalled Smith. Despite Granite Broadcasting’s sale of the station in 1999 to CBS, the HD plan remained intact and was followed, he said.

While the technology foreseen in the plan changed significantly as the ensuing years progressed, it seemed that at every critical juncture in implementing the plan, an improvement in the technology envisioned became available before taking the next step.

“For example, we were worried about camcorders, because we had no idea how that was going to wash out in terms of the standards available. Were we going, ‘P2 cards, or Blu-ray?’” he said. As a CBS station, that decision “has pretty well been made for us,” Smith said. In January 2006, CBS announced that it had selected Sony XDCAM HD for its O&Os. KEYE-TV plans to roll out its XDCAM HD camcorders next year.

Another area where technology seemed to fall into place as it became needed was editing. The station is relying on Apple Final Cut Pro and Mac server storage for its news editing. “Everything that we edit in house is Final Cut Pro,” he said, “and we are prepared in that regard to go HD and are about to set up an HD edit station so we can integrate some footage into our newscast that is 100 percent HD.”

Currently, the station edits 4:3 SD footage with Sony Betacam SX. To get 16:9 field footage, while it waits to upgrade to XDCAM HD, KEYE-TV has experimented with a Final Cut Pro technique. “We have discovered that if you take an SX tape and create an anamorphic clip and import that to Final Cut as 16:9, it looks tremendous.”

While it cannot be considered HD, it is very low noise and better than an upconverted NTSC image, Smith explained. “We may switch all of our edit bays to use this process,” he added. KEYE-TV plans to upgrade to Final Cut Studio 2 next year.