The Master Builders
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/14/2004 7:00:00 PM
New digs make two San Francisco stations state-of- — New digs make two San Francisco stations state-of-the-artWhen KNTV moved to the Silicon Valley, it decided its new home should reflect its location: one of the nation's premiere high-tech corridors. The area's corporate parks boast leading digital drivers, from Apple to Cisco. Now KNTV San Jose/San Francisco/Oakland's facility is as impressive as its surroundings.
“The viewers here are tech-savvy, early adopters who have really good TV sets,” says Jim Monroe, KNTV vice president, creative services and programming. “Our picture is softer and fuzzier because of our old facility. But beginning Nov. 18, when we open our new facility, it'll be sharper.”
The slick look is thanks to new equipment housed in the new 82,000-square-foot facility. KNTV, NBC's San Francisco affiliate, is moving, with sister station KSTS San Jose, a Telemundo station, into a state-of-the-art facility.
The two will work side by side in a digital news environment equipped with Grass Valley Group NewsEdit nonlinear editing systems that pull news content off Grass Valley Profile XP PVS1100 video servers capable of storing 300 hours of video.
“Our training on those systems is on-going,” says Monroe. “In the end, we'll have a more flexible and faster newsgathering operation.”
KNTV began looking for a new home after NBC acquired it in May 2002. Monroe says the station's existing home on the west side of downtown San Jose wasn't up to standard for a top-market O&O station.
“Before the NBC acquisition, we served the Salinas/Monterey market. But when we moved to the San Francisco market, we became bigger overnight,” he says.
The move meant adding newscasts and staff, and soon, both stations answered the demand for expansion and picture quality It became apparent to management that the 1950s facility would not house 21st century concerns.
The new building, located four miles north of the old one, was purchased last December. The goal was to get the station staff into a facility with double the combined space that KNTV and KSTS had occupied. Along with the digital editing gear came new digital master-control switchers. Two Sony 8000 switchers will be used—one in each station's control room. And two studios will be used for nightly newscasts, with Sony BVP-900 studio cameras outfitted with Canon HD lenses capturing the action.
While the cameras aren't high-def, the lenses are—which is just one way the stations wwwwwnewscasts.
“We also had the set designed to be able to fit 16:9 TV screens,” says Monroe, “and it's made of materials designed to withstand the scrutiny of HD cameras.” The studio will also be outfitted with 16:9 monitors.
The changes extend beyond the facility's four walls.
For openers, new fiber connectivity will make it easier for the station to send video around the plant as files. But that connectivity also reaches 50 miles north to the station's San Francisco and Oakland bureaus.
“We're calling it the virtual singular newsroom because the station and bureaus might as well be sitting next to each other,” says Monroe. “They can move content back and forth instantly over the DS3 line with 45 Mbps of bandwidth.”
The two stations' news departments will operate side by side. “People in the newsroom will be gathered by function, not language,” he explains. “There's a workflow economy to having a producer sit with producers.”
He believes the station is lucky to be rebuilding its plant today, since the digital technologies have matured both in standards and capabilities. That allows them to design a building able to accommodate the demands of a major U.S. media-company outlet.
“We were able to build a mailroom with X-ray equipment and an air-handling system that is isolated from the rest of the building,” he explains. “If any threats are airborne, it's contained at the source.”
For now, Monroe and the station's employees will focus on settling into a new home over the next month, reveling in what he is happy to call “a livable work environment.”
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