Seeking more of the same
The goal is simple: Gear that makes facilities better
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/24/2002 7:00:00 PM
|·||HD nonlinear editors|
|·||HD production equipment|
Last year, Vice President, East Coast Operations, Bob Ross and the rest of the CBS engineering team went to NAB in search of new equipment and technologies for use in a Broadcast Operations Center being built in New York. This year? More of the same as the development of the BOC continues to take shape.
"The BOC we have is working okay," says Ross. "We just have to keep working towards the future."
Specific equipment that CBS will be looking for includes video servers, control systems for those servers, and additional production products for HDTV demands, specifically for sports production.
"We need an HD super slo-mo for the HD sports productions that we're doing," he says. "And we need HD nonlinear editing."
Ross says he'd love to see more manufacturers create HD production equipment. Right now, the 24p production market, for example, is pretty much a two-company market: Panasonic and Sony. Even so, he says, a producer who wants to use HD video for episodic television could do it.
One advance he would like to see, however, is the ability to produce in full 1920x1080 with a variable frame rate. "We're not doing full 1920x1080 24p with a variable frame rate yet, but we're getting there."
The shift to nonlinear editing for HD use is typically the realm of large, expensive post-production facilities. Checking out HD nonlinear editing systems at trade shows like NAB often involves demonstrations of the latest $150 million motion picture, not television network programming.
But editors accustomed to working in a nonlinear fashion in standard definition aren't keen on taking a step back in time for HD. "Editors are used to working nonlinearly. and they aren't going to go back to tape-based editing systems," says Ross.
One factor working in Ross's favor is that the price of HD nonlinear editing systems is coming down. "Costs are based on the massive amounts of disk space needed for storage," he explains. "So now we're seeing the benefit of getting bigger and faster drives at a lower cost, and we can afford more storage. We need more competition in that area because it's basically Avid and Pinnacle."
Ross also says he'll investigate HD systems from other manufacturers, like Quantel and Discreet, at NAB.
Servers will also be on the shopping list this year. With so many companies offering server products, education plays an important part in making the right purchasing decision. "We spend an inordinate amount of time researching the company, its history, who else is using the server, what the reliability is, and what the basic hardware structure is for the server," says Ross.
CBS currently uses Grass Valley Group Profile servers at its owned-and-operated stations, so the company does have an established relationship with one server manufacturer. "But we're always looking at alternatives which mean the usual cheaper, better, faster attributes," he says.
The most important attribute in server-type systems is making sure the hardware will hold up. "For most of these kinds of systems, the investment in the software side means we want the hardware to last a while," Ross explains. "Before we'll change the hardware again, we're going to need a good reason to change it, like if it's incompatible."
A number of upcoming engineering projects are in the offing. Ross's basic goal at NAB is to look for products that might change the direction of what CBS is doing. "I don't expect to see anything, but you never know."
One area that Ross will continue to explore is centralcasting technologies. He wants to take a closer look at the technologies involved to determine whether the cost savings outweigh the risks.
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