The View’s debut in HD this week (and with new View-member Rosie O’Donnell) marks the end of a long technology journey that began in early 2005. It proves just how complex it is to move a program that is on the air five days a week to high-definition.
The physical transformation began in August of last year and required a mobile unit to be pulled up outside of the studio on West End and 66th Street. The production crew then moved from the comforts of a concrete-and-brick control room to a mobile unit on the street. Cameras were then run from the studio out to the truck where the program was produced for more than six months until the new control room was completed in March.
It wasn’t the first time a major daily TV program was produced from a remote truck on the streets of Manhattan. Both Good Morning America and The Late Show with David Letterman went through a similar process.
“Unless you have a huge facility with an extra studio you need to do a rebuild while keeping everything else in place and that requires some supplemental space,” says Preston Davis, ABC president, engineering.
The timing of the move also followed an industry trend of taking advantage of equipment replacement cycles. With the control room due for an upgrade the decision to go HD was much more palatable to the network.
The new equipment includes three Ikegami HDK725 studio and three HDK725P portable cameras, an SSL audio console and a Calrec music console, and a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna production switcher with four mix effects and two channels of DVE.
“The beauty for us is the ability to mix SD and HD sources via the Kahuna, and that’s its single biggest attribute,” says Davis.
Since March The View production staff has gotten used to working in two aspect ratios, a continuing challenge for the industry. “The challenge is to do creative and interesting things for the 16:9 audience while always being mindful of the 4:3 audience,” says Davis.