New KSND Digital Facilty Takes Ops to the Bank

Building a new broadcast facility can be so costly it could have one thinking of robbing a bank to help pay for it. KNSD(TV) San Diego, an NBC O&O, did the next best thing: It moved into an old savings and loan.

The CCIR-601 digital facility looks out on Horton Square, and what was once a savings and loan office (part of the vault remains) is now a dazzling DTV space comprising a glassed-in mezzanine and loft complex.

On-air from the new facility for just over a year, KNSD embodies the future for NBC O&Os on several levels. It is an entirely digital plant and is an example of centralcasting (linked via multiple OC-3 fibers to Burbank, Calif.'s KNBC[TV]). It also served as a beta site for a digital newsroom that features low-res browsing on an Avid Media Browse 2000 with short-form editing via the Grass Valley Media Area Network (MAN) and Vibrint Newsedit platforms.

"It has been a cultural shift," said Jim Sanders, vice president of news and interactive at KNSD. "Half the facility is wide open behind lots of glass, and the layout is quite different. It far exceeds our expectations."

During system design, everyone on staff was interviewed and their ideas incorporated. Said Engineering Manager Bob Vaillancourt, "It made a big difference in terms of the outcome. All employees wanted to be able to see everything coming in and out of the station on a shared basis."

A 110-channel master antenna television (MATV) system with inputs from the master routing system (eight channels total) has eliminated a lot of running around because anything can be placed on the MATV system for viewing elsewhere. An Adam intercom system from RTS/Telex and a newsroom computer in every edit bay also enhance workflow and increase productivity.

A space-saving rolling monitor wall in the production-control room is mounted on a rack and moved by a hand crank. The wall consists of five 52-inch Miranda plasma displays, each capable of running eight displays and eight more as backup, for a total of 16. Two racks of 13-inch displays sit on either side of the Mirandas, along with Sony 21-inch serial digital displays.

Because the design of KNSD was well under way before the centralcasting blueprint emerged in final form at NBC, the initial floor plan called for co-locating the master-control room with the assignment desk. However, with master control assigned to operators at KNBC, the 300-square-foot space dedicated at KNSD for master control was reassigned.

Tandberg E5611 encoders are installed in the hub that is in the same building as the KNBC facility in Burbank, feeding Tandberg Alteia-plus receivers at KNSD and other NBC affiliates, too. A Florical automation system is in place at KNSD for spot playback, allowing for a breakaway in the event of a breaking-news story.

"With a hub override, we can bypass the hub for breaking news or if the hub goes down," said Vaillancourt.

A Sony MVS-8000 production switcher is used to play back programming stored on Profile XP video servers.