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TNT to produce 2004-05 NBA lineup in HD

The monitor wall inside TNT HD's studio

Turner Network Television (TNT) will produce all of its NBA 2004-05 season coverage in 1080i high definition. All of the cameras used for the network's coverage will be native HD with a minimum of 10 cameras per game site and a minimum of five for the studio shows.

The network is going to great care to ensure the optimum viewing experience of its HD audience. Rather than simply producing one HD telecast and downconverting it for sizable SD audience, TNT will assign an as-of-yet unspecified number of HD cameras to shoot games for SD coverage, said Lenny Daniels, senior vice president and coordinating director of Turner Sports.

According to Daniels, HD cameras designated for SD coverage will frame game action for NTSC’s 4:3 aspect ratio. When a game’s director instructs the technical director seated at a Thomson Grass Valley brand Kalypso switcher to take an HD camera to air, the corresponding HD camera framed for SD coverage will automatically be taken as well.

Two HD feeds will leave the switcher. One will remain HD. The other - made up of 4:3-framed HD action - will be downconverted for TNT’s SD viewers.

TNT HD's production control room

While this approach may be a little more difficult than simply producing one HD feed that’s split and downconverted, it offers TNT’s viewers the opportunity to take full advantage of their wider screens.

The NBA telecasts on TNT in HD will be broadcast in 1080i native HD using Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

According to Daniels, the network’s decision to use the 1080i HD format positions TNT to take advantage of 1080p when it becomes a broadly accepted production standard – something that won’t be possible for 720p proponents. Dolby 5.1 surround sound will give TNT an opportunity to feed special game sounds to its HD audience. Currently, the network plans to mic each backboard and put that sound in the .1 channel of its surround production.

TNT will produce 52 regular season NBA games, beginning Nov. 2. The channel will rely on its HD teleproduction truck and those from NEP and Trio Video for game coverage. Currently, Turner is building a new HD truck that is scheduled to be completed in a month.

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