Sinclair Just Kicking the Tires


Del Parks, Sinclair Broadcast Group VP of engineering and operations, and his team of five Sinclair engineers will head out to Las Vegas without a major shopping list.

Mainly, Sinclair is upgrading its current Avid Unity storage system to the Unity ISIS, which has a lot more capacity, and is embarking on an HD master-control project with systems integrator Azcar that will let stations play HD commercials to air.

Sinclair owns and operates 58 stations and has additional management agreements with others, so Parks is always in the market for something. HD this year tops his list.

“We’ll be looking at any developments in HD as we’re developing our strategy for local HD origination,” he says.

Even so, he says, “With the exception of a few markets, I don’t really see us getting into the HD news business for a couple of years.”

Sinclair, like some other station groups, recently made an investment in standard-definition ENG gear. As a result, the conversion to HD will have to wait until that equipment has been amortized.

Sinclair has been a dedicated Panasonic customer over the years, so it will be taking a hard look at Panasonic’s HVX200 P2 tapeless system, a low-cost camera that isn’t shoulder mountable but may have many non-news production uses.

The company will also check out Sony’s XDCAM HD format and Thomson Grass Valley’s Infinity system, both of which are tapeless.

“All three of those formats are viable systems, so it really is to our advantage to evaluate all three systems when we make the move to HD,” Parks says.

Sinclair will invest time in scoping out new nonlinear editing systems on the market. Parks thinks all of the systems on the market, such as Avid and Canopus, are viable options; it’s simply a matter of getting the system the production team will be most comfortable using. File-based storage and production systems will get the once-over, too.

“With any new technology,” Parks says, “you really need a leader or proponent who will get everyone excited about it and act as an emissary. Otherwise, you’re just kidding yourself.”

Digital audio- processing gear is also on the short list this year. “The networks are all running at different levels, and Dial Norm [which was supposed to solve the problem] is all over the place.” Linear Acoustics and Neural Audio are two of the companies Parks and his team plan to visit.

Parks and partners divide the show floor into different product areas and then get together toward the end of the show and discuss what they learned. They also go off the floor, where NAB holds intensely technical sessions that include voluminous reports.

Because Sinclair is not planning to be buying much, Parks jokes, “Maybe this year, we’ll actually get a chance to spend time [reading] the papers.”