Web Nerve Center in HD

Pipeline control room equipped for future

Pipeline’s control room is CNN’s first totally high- definition control room. Located next to the CNN.com newsroom in Atlanta, the room (a smaller version of the CNN control rooms found in New York and Washington) features a wealth of next-generation HD gear. Sony’s MVS-8000 Series production switcher, a Leitch HD video server and HD graphics will all be used to deliver content to Pipeline’s “channel one” stream.

“That first stream will be fully produced, while the other three will be partially produced and have a lot of incoming raw footage,” says Gordon Castle, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. chief technology fellow.

The decision to go HD reflects three trends. First, complex broadband products require top-quality production gear. Second, the cost of that gear has fallen to a point that it is affordable enough to use on a broadband-only product. Third, building a control room today demands that it is entirely high-definition, so that the equipment doesn’t have to be replaced before it’s reached the end of its life cycle.

Original content for Pipeline will be shot in HD, with the use of Sony HDV and HDCAM gear in the field and Sony HDC-930 cameras for the studio portion. Pipeline subscribers won’t be able to see the material with HD resolution, as broadband pipes aren’t big enough yet. But they will be able to see it in widescreen.

“We’ll be stretching all of the incoming 4:3 material with the same Teranex technology that TNT-HD is using,” says Castle. The image will be stretched more on the sides so that objects in the center, typically the focus of a shot, won’t appear distorted. “We did some testing of incoming material, and from time to time, the stretch will be objectionable,” says Castle. “But the bulk of the time it works.”