Thomson Targets HD Production

Products for NAB seek to capitalize on emerging market

A new version of "TV Station in a Kit" and other products among Thomson's wealth of NAB product introductions will be looking to take advantage of what promises to be a growing market this year: HDTV production.

"In 2003, 30% of our revenues came from HD products," says Jeff Rosica, vice president, worldwide strategic marketing and business development. "We're committed to the SD world, but the move to HD and multiformat products has been quite significant."

The HD kit starts at under $370,000, pricey compared with standard-definition options, but the company believes the benefit of the bundled approach will make it attractive to broadcast stations and production facilities.

"This allows HD to get down to local stations because it has a lower cost," says Jean Marc Hoffer, Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions vice president. "It's also more economic for us to sell a package that can also be a marketing tool."

Included in the kit are two Grass Valley LDK 6000 mk II WorldCam cameras, a Concerto Series router, a Kayak HD digital switcher, a Grass Valley PVS 3000 Profile XP Media Platform with storage, Kameleon media-processing system modular products, and control panels for the Newton Ethernet-based modular control system. Variables that affect pricing include the number of inputs in the router and the switcher and the amount of storage on the Profile server.

The Kayak switcher in the kit is actually a new product with one mix effect in its 3RU-high system. An internal four-channel RAM recorder is included for recording and playing out clips and stills. Other features include such options as chromakey, RGB color correction and four transform engines for digital video effects.

Master-control operations are also getting a new look with Thomson's Maestro, a modular system based on Kameleon. Features for the SD or HD master-control module include A/B mixing of multiple program feeds, automated branding with positioning of up to four external or internal key layers, support for up to eight audio channels, and preprogrammed digital video effects.

Maestro also has a branding module that can be used for adding station/channel IDs and logos with full animation and audio mixing to any SD or HD program stream. The lineup will be available during the summer. Pricing for the Maestro module starts at $13,250, the control panel at $4,425, and the branding-engine module at $7,800.

"It's powerful in terms of its audio and video processing and now allows for the creation of complex transitions," says Jan Eveleens, Thomson general manager, broadcast cameras.

Thomson is also introducing a TV Station Kit designed to take advantage of Maestro's capabilities. The Play to Air kit is available in both an SD and HD version, the SD version starting at less than $100,000. The kit includes a Grass Valley Maestro system for branding and master control that can be configured with a PVS 3000 Profile XP Media Platform for SD and HD storage.

The company won't be introducing any camera systems this year, but it will debut a hybrid fiber system and an SDI multicore camera system. The former supports transmission of HD video from an LDK 6000 mk II WorldCam camera up to 4,000 meters; the latter is designed for small and midsize broadcasters using LDK 300 or LDK 500 cameras.

The introduction of the fiber system doesn't signify a step away from the analog triax systems Thomson also offers. Rosica says the triax system is still the choice for the vast majority of HD productions because many arenas and stadiums simply aren't outfitted for fiber. In addition, there aren't enough fiber systems in the marketplace to meet the demand.

The SDI system also includes a compact multipurpose adapter, a maximum of 100 meters of multicore cable, a base unit, and a choice of camera control panels. Pricing for the WorldCam camera with the hybrid fiber system (available in April) is $157,000; the SDI system (available next month) with LDK 300 camera head starts at $28,650.