In a move to take control of its technology transition, PBS member station KLRN in San Antonio, Texas, has purchased a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna multiformat SD/HD production switcher as a key part of its planned progression into digital and HD broadcasting.
KLRN, provider of public television services for a 30-county region in South and Central Texas, has made the new Kahuna switcher the centerpiece of its production infrastructure -- allowing the station to support today's SD program creation while setting the stage for a predetermined move into HD production.
"Like other television stations in this day and age, we were faced with the FCC mandate for digital broadcasting, with the production of digital content and HD as part of the equation," said KLRN Director of Production Roy Flores. "As a regional PBS station, we don't have unlimited resources, so we have to invest in technology for maximum efficiency and return. We therefore sought a solution that would serve our needs in the short term and be able to handle SD or HD production in the longer term. Kahuna is that product."
KLRN has been transitioning to HD gradually by upgrading to HD studio cameras, HDCAM player/recorders, and an HD-capable broadcast server. In the past year the station has upgraded its broadcast operations to include multicasting, with both SD service and an HD channel.
The facility now multicasts four streams of programming on digital channels: 9-1, the digital version of its Channel 9 analog program service; 9-2, a combination of regular programming and HD in prime time; 9-3, award-winning PBS Kids programming; and 9-4, "The Learning Place," a schedule of programming for lifelong learners in formal or informal educational pursuits. In time, KLRN will expand its services on 9-2 with additional HD programming, including locally produced content.
Kahuna's extraordinary flexibility allows KLRN to quickly adapt to new multiformat programming opportunities without disruption of its operations. This is possible thanks to Format Fusion, a Snell & Wilcox technology that allows a single switcher mainframe and control surface to handle both SD and HD sources simultaneously with no need for upconversion and no reboot when switching between formats. Working in multiformat SD/HD mode, Kahuna users can mix SD camera feeds, graphics, handheld shots, and archive footage directly into an HD production, extending the useful life of existing SD hardware and delivering cost savings by allowing for a measured and deliberate transition to HD work.
KLRN's Flores anticipates using the Kahuna not only as a live production tool, but for post production to improve the efficiency of tasks, such as packaging HD station IDs that are currently completed in a linear environment. KLRN also will be integrating DVE systems from Snell & Wilcox to bring greater creative flexibility and more compelling transitions into its live productions.
"Kahuna is an attractive solution because it is the only product that offers simultaneous SD and HD output, which means we didn't have to purchase outboard up- or downconverters to output programming in the right format," continued Flores. "In addition to flexibility and cost savings, the Kahuna gives us the freedom to work with different formats as we make our transition toward HD. The system certainly seems to be as future-proof as anything, and since we took it live in June, it has proved to be a logical, intuitive, and user-friendly system."
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