HDNet Spaces Out with NASA

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Far out.HDNet and NASA have formed a partnership tho deliver HD telecasts of NASA space shuttle and other launches through 2010.

“HDNet has been covering major events for the last few years like the Pope’s funeral and Hurricane Katrina, “ says Phillip Garvin, HDNet general manager. “We feel that showing the NASA launches in HD can help rekindle interest in the space program.”

HDNet will have 12 cameras on hand to cover at least 15 more shuttle launches and pre-launch activities. “This requires an enormous investment in facilities,” says Garvin. “And with the launch window ranging up to 30 days or more there are a lot of risks.”

HDNet will make the coverage available for a fee to broadcast and cable news outlets that are interested in broadcasting the HDNet coverage live on their outlets. HDNet is also providing to NASA, free of charge, an NTSC signal of all launch broadcasts for media networks not yet equipped to broadcast HDTV.

The potential for delays is one of the reasons HDNet will use one of its two 40-foot HD production trucks to handle the coverage. If they rented a truck, and the launch was delayed, overage charges could quickly add up.

Sony and Grass Valley cameras will be used for coverage and a Grass Valley Kalypso production switcher and a Chyron Hyper X will handle switching and graphics. “Canon will sometimes lend us an even longer lens than the ones we have,” says Garvin. “We’ll mount it on a special rig and track the shuttle as it heads into space.”

NASA says the deal won’t exclude other broadcasters from setting up cameras and covering the launch. But HDNet will have exclusive rights to video shot from cameras located on the launch pad and in other pre-staging areas.

“We realize that this relationship is minor in the scheme of things to NASA but it’s the mix of public and private like this relationship that is how NASA came to be,” says Garvin. Look for HDNet to cover its first manned launch this July.

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