Trying not to gamble in Vegas
Scripps tackles some digital technologies but is wary of not-ready-for-prime time gear
By Edmond Rosenthal -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/25/2001 7:00:00 PM
Four of our 10 stations are still to experience the exhilaration of digital conversion," reports Mike Doback, vice president, engineering at E. W. Scripps Broadcast Division, Detroit. "We'll be looking at the antennas and transmitters necessary to complete this process. We'll also be looking at infrastructure-related items, such as encoders, decoders and upconverters."
The criterion in choosing, he explains, is the relationship between expense and functionality. Meanwhile, the company's ongoing technology-update program calls for the evaluation of large-scale production switchers and studio consoles with an eye toward a completely digital infrastructure.
Doback does believe that the move to digital has been a valuable learning experience. He adds that it's also important because it allows the station to get ready for the business opportunities that digital enables.
"We're continually replacing studio VTRs," he reports, "and we're looking at some of those. The tape formats are pretty well established at our stations. Some are DVCPRO, some are still Beta SP, and we also have some SX." The stations will probably stick with these formats, he says, adding, "We're looking at what makes sense to a station locally vs. having a corporate philosophy. The differences are based on market size and what it takes to be competitive in each market."
One of the stations will be buying an audio console to replace an older unit that is now out of production. "Our criterion is how well it works in producing news," Doback notes.
He also expects to be buying a number of ENG vehicles in the near future. DSNG vehicles have been the group's recent direction in the microwave trucks, and it has been happy with the results, he says.
"We're looking more toward downsized DSNG trucks, which have the same functionality as the larger ones but can go places where the larger trucks can't go, like parking spaces, stadiums and narrow streets. Also, they don't require Department of Transportation licenses to operate," he adds.
Digital ENG microwave systems are viewed at the group not only as a technology update but also for their reliability and their application in such "moving scenarios" as helicopters and automobiles.
Doback says that the opportunity presented by moving to the digital systems is that, once in digital, an asset can be accessed anywhere in the station. WXYZ-TV Detroit, which is the guinea-pig station, is adding file servers. "We're taking a look at how we're handling the news workflow and the station workflow, and doing what makes sense," he says.
While there is a lot of buzz around centralcasting, Doback says, after investigating some of the technologies last year at NAB, he found the technology wasn't something the group felt quite comfortable with.
This extends to other technologies as well. Metadata, for example, still has some ways to go before Doback will feel comfortable with it.
The challenge that faces every station is that there are numerous technologies that offer promise, but using experimental technologies in a station isn't something that most stations are interested in doing.
While all of the stations have newsroom computer systems, the functionality of some is being expanded with digital playback-to-air systems. This has already happened at WXYZ and includes ingestion of incoming news material and some longer-form programming. This involves a combination of the NewStar and Panasonic DNA system.
The exhibition floor at NAB will be well-covered by Doback, and, even though his current focus is on the rollout of digital television transmission systems for the remaining four stations, he'll continue to keep an eye open for new technologies. He looks forward to the symposiums, he says, explaining, "We're always interested in the free exchange of thought."
No related content found.
No Top Articles
Digital Rapids provides market-leading software and hardware solutions, technology and expertise for transforming live and on-demand video to reach wider audiences on the latest viewing platforms more efficiently, more effectively and more profitably. Empowering applications from..more