Time Warner Cable's News 8 channel in Austin
is well on its way to the launch of an HD feed in later part of 2010.
As part of a three-year transition to HD, the news channel
has already installed a 144-frame UTAH-400 routing switcher and SC-4 control
from Utah Scientific and a Kahuna switcher from Snell & Wilcox, and has
purchased field cameras from Panasonic.
"We chose to work from the heart of the system out, because
typically that requires the most capital expenditure," starting with the
purchase and installation of the router and switcher, said News 8 chief of
engineering Roland Bigley. "From here forward, it is mostly peripheral
equipment that we need to purchase to complete the full transition to HD. We
anticipate doing that in the later part of 2010."
The channel began preparing to move to HD in 2007 and
decided to make the transition in phases, so it wouldn't have to cover the $1.5
million to $2 million cost all at once.
In a difficult economy, an increasing number of broadcasters
and programmers are taking that approach.
"We are seeing a lot more of that these days," said Utah
Scientific regional sales manager Michelle Maurice. "Before, they would just
replace analog, but now they are trying to make it last a little longer."
News 8, for example, decided it want to keep its Philips
Venus audio analog router for the time being at least and acquired using a Utah
MX-Lator control translation unit so Utah's
SC-4 Control System could also control the older Philips router.
"We are currently audio analog, and the fact that Utah
assured me that we could interface with the old analog router was a big
choosing point" in the decision to acquire equipment, Bigley said.
In the field, News 8 is in the process of acquiring Panasonic
cameras that are both HD and SD capable but has made no final decision on which
HD studio cameras it will buy. It is also in the process of purchasing an
Evertz MVP multi-viewer and is upgrading studio lighting.
Bigley cited several reasons for their purchase of the Utah
products, including its 10-year warranty and fact that the vendor was able to
work with some of the channels' older equipment, such as the Philips analog
"I've been working with Utah
products for 32 years in the field and they've always proved real trustworthy
and stable," he noted.
In terms of the Kahuna switcher, Bigley said that Utah
had looked at a number of products from other major manufacturers.
"A lot of them required you to add additional equipment to
do the conversion process," he said. "But with the Snell, it is built right in,
so we didn't have to buy a lot of peripheral equipment to do the transition."
News 8 has not yet purchased the software upgrade to convert
the Kahuna switcher to HD but plans to do so this year, Bigley added.
The channel has been doing the conversion in-house without
the aid of an outside integrator. Bigley said News 8 planned the entire process
very carefully to avoid any problems.
Asked what advice he might give others upgrading to HD,
Bigley said, "the most important part is the planning." It's also crucial to
make sure all of the equipment interfaces, he added.
"You always have to be careful that the equipment you
are purchasing can not only accommodate what you need now to convert the
existing signal, but that the equipment is fully HD-compatible when everything
you have in-house is transitioned to HD," said Bigley.