'Today' Goes 1080i in September

Speaking of the "Today" show... If newcomer Meredith Vieira and fellow co-host Matt Lauer look a bit sharper than usual come Sept. 13, they'll have an HD studio upgrade at their Rockefeller Center facilities to thank. (As well as NBC engineers, of course.)

The top-rated network morning broadcast has been "airing" its show quite literally outside for the summer, while new HD studios are being built in the same space as the older "Today" studios overlooking Rockefeller Plaza.

A crew from Ascent Media Services has been converting the old, partially glass-walled studios and control room to 1080i and dealing with the increased demands of a16:9 aspect ratio.

Wednesday morning (Aug. 23), Matt Lauer, Natalie Morales and Al Roker conducted a live tour of the new facilities, including the studios and control room, still obviously under renovation. Regular NBC tours will allow the public to see (but not hear) control room activity close-up through a new indoor window while the show is on the air.

Some of the equipment being installed will include a Sony MVS-8000a production switcher, Calrec Alpha digital audio console, Barco virtual-monitor wall, Avid ISIS content serve, Avid NewsCutter nonlinear editor, and several Sony HDC-1500 handheld cameras for both fixed studio, and outdoor handheld use.

A separate audio room will enable the show's regular Friday morning concerts to air in Dolby surround sound. Fiber optic cable will connect the "Today" studios to NBC's main facilities across the street, where "NBC Nightly News," "Saturday Night Live" and other regular NBC programs originate. The new "Today" studios will consist of two floors.

"Good Morning America" on ABC, which threatens NBC's morning dominance from time to time, took the HD leap for morning broadcast shows (with ABC Disney's preferred 720p) in 2005.