Oklahoma City station takes first step toward HD news acquisition

Griffin Communications-owned KWTV-TV in Oklahoma City has acquired a new Bell 407 helicopter equipped with Fujinon’s HA42x13.5BERD HDTV ENG-style zoom lens.

Dubbed SKYNEWS9 HD, the new helicopter has a customized Flir Ultra Media HD camera enclosure, which houses a Sony HDC-F950 1080i HD ENG camera with the Fujinon HD zoom lens.

While the CBS affiliate hasn’t yet put its newscast on the air in HD, it plans to do so within the next two years. According to KWTV vice president and general manager Rob Krier, it was “easier and more cost-effective” to equip the news copter with the HD system “than to have to backtrack and upgrade the gear later on.”

Prior to purchasing the new HA42x13.5BERD HD zoom lens for the helicopter, the station had extensive experience with Fujinon lenses, using 16 A18X7.6BERM SD zoom lenses for daily electronic newsgathering and one A13X4.5BERM SD zoom for electronic field production (EFP).

The Flir Ultra Media HD enclosure is composed of five gyrostabilizers that keep the HD camera and lens stable during flight. Its size also affected the station’s lens choice.

“This Fujinon lens was the most lens we could actually fit into the small enclosure, which is approximately 24 in x 18in,” said Greg Ward, news operations manager for KWTV. “In any aircraft, weight and space are critical concerns. This ENG-style Fujinon lens is compact and lightweight enough to fit within the Flir enclosure, but it still gives us the greatest effective focal length so that we can get really ‘up-close and personal’ with the many tornados that pass through here in ‘tornado alley.’”

Designed for use with the 2/3in HD video camera format, the Fujinon HA42x13.5 lens offers a 42x zoom ratio with a 2X extender. It has a focal length of (1X) 13.5mm to 570mm, and (2X) 27mm to 1140mm and weighs less than 12lb.

For more information, visit www.fujinonbroadcast.com and www.griffincommunications.net.