AP Global Media Services, the video newsgathering-facilities
arm of The Associated Press, has opened a major new facility in central London
that will offer clients five fully HD studios with a stunning view of many of
the city's most famous landmarks.
The new facilities represent a major commitment by AP to
offering clients high-definition ready facilities, noted AP Global Media
Services' director Alla Salehian.
"It offers the high-end production value that most people
are now asking for," he explained. "Most of our U.S.
clients are asking for full HD, our Japanese clients are only in HD, and a lot
of European clients are doing more and more in HD. So it was important for us
to offer HD [even though] only about 15% of our customer base is fully HD at
the moment. But we expect that number to nearly double in the next two years."
The new studios open as cash-strapped broadcasters hurt by a
downturn in advertising have been cutting back on foreign bureaus. The AP is
betting the new studio will offer broadcasters a more cost-effective way of
covering international stories.
"The days of broadcasters investing large sums of capital in
fixed infrastructure and foreign bureaus I think is gone for the foreseeable
future," Salehian said. "It is really cost-effective for broadcasters: They get
a high end set-up without having to invest all that money themselves.
"So we think the timing is right. The customers are looking
for ways to cut costs and this obviously is a good way to do it."
Finding the right location for the new facility was a
difficult task in London because
many centrally located buildings are older, with small windows not suited to being
a studio backdrop, and the buildings tend to be listed, which prevents
alterations to the way the building looks. After a year of looking, Salehian
finally was shown the New Zealand House building, which offered stunning 360
degree views of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham
Square, the City financial district, the London
Eye and other landmarks. It is also within walking distance of many red-carpet
events, Whitehall and 10
"If you are covering an entertainment, political, royal, or
any kind of story from London, we
have a view that says you're in London
and a view that is relevant to what you are broadcasting," said Salehian.
Construction of the new facility was done on a tight
schedule and didn't start until mid-March. To ensure that the studios would be
open for the U.K.
elections temporary equipment was installed for that coverage. When the
election results are over, the final equipment will be installed, a process
Salehian hopes will be completed by the end of May.
The facility includes two large studios that can accommodate
three or four HD cameras, one studio that can handle a two camera shoot, and
two with a single camera set-up. All are connected via fiber to AP's Camden
facility. "What is really unique is that you can shoot and transmit simultaneously
from all five studios and deliver the feeds to different parts of the world all
in HD," he noted.
AP is working with studio design and broadcast integrator
WTS Broadcast on the project. WTS will be constructing and maintaining the
Vendors for the project include Sony, which is supplying six
Sony HXC-100 HD cameras and four Sony HDC-P1 HD cameras, Salehian noted. The
control rooms will use Ross Video Cross Over HD/SD vision mixers, Sony VTRs and
Grass Valley IDDR servers.
Other equipment includes a Evertz 96x64 HD/SD router, Oxygen
DCT LCD multi-viewer monitors, Ikegami CRT engineering monitors, Allen &
Heath audio mixers and Bradley Engineering automation and robotics.
The five studios cover 1,636 square feet and can
deliver either a 1080i high-definition signal or a standard-definition 576i
feed, depending on the client's needs.