Q&A With Wohler Technologies' Carl J. Dempsey

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Fresh on the heels of
a deal with the syndicated show Dr. Phil
for HD video monitors, Wohler Technologies CEO Carl J. Dempsey talked with HD Update contributor George Winslow about
the installation, other new offerings and the growing demand for products that
are compatible with the 3 Gigabyte-per-second infrastructure needed to handle a
1080p plant. An edited transcript follows.

MCN: How are you seeing the demand for high-definition-related

Carl Dempsey: HD
upgrades have been helping drive the industry, and certainly our business, for
more than six years.

A lot of our top customers said they loved our product but
that they could only continue using it if we offered an HD input. So today, everything
we do is offered with an HD upgrade path.

But we are constantly looking for the next thing as well.
We've added [3 Gbps] capability to a lot of our products. On larger projects,
people are saying they can't spec anything into them that doesn't have a 3-Gig
upgrade path, which is exactly what we are were told many years ago regarding

What's happening now with the economy is that everyone,
including the manufacturers, wants more for less. So on the closed-captioning
side, for example, we're essentially giving the HD away. You pay one price, the
low SD price and you get HD as well. And you don't even need a software or
firmware upgrade. It's on the card. The minute you're HD, you can just change a
couple of settings and you've got HD. That has proved very popular.

MCN: How has the market been internationally?

CD: Economically,
everyone is hurting, but we had a lot of success internationally. We just
finished a project in Singapore
with Discovery for their HD upgrade.

We did a very big project with Canal Plus in France
[a Wohler closed caption encoder/decoder.] Even though they have to play out in
both SD and HD, they wanted to eliminate the need for duplication of both SD
and HD storage and our solution enabled them to do that.

It has proved to be a real cost-saving solution and very helpful
in managing a large number of channels.

MCN: Can you talk some more about interest in
3-Gig upgrades?

CD: I've been on
the 3-Gig bandwagon for over two years, but in talking to our sales team it has
been apparent that it hasn't gotten a great deal of play.

This [National Association of Broadcasters convention],
however, some of the system design people were saying to us that on larger
projects, they wouldn't consider putting in a product that wasn't 3-Gig
compatible. So we were getting mixed signals for quite a while with people
saying they don't really care and then all of sudden, there have been a number
of people, primarily system designers, saying "why would I put in a unit and
that isn't 3-Gig compatible."

Right now, everything we do, even if it doesn't have 3 Gig
on it, is 3-Gig compatible from a design standpoint. What I mean by that is
that we design chip sets we know we can replace with 3-Gig ones fairly easily.

And, like HD before, we're helping people make the
transition by giving them 3-Gig compatibility for the same price. So when they do
go to 1080p throughout their plant, they won't have to rip that unit out and go
spend more money. I think it puts us in a much stronger position.

MCN: The Dr. Phil show has installed your
RM-2435-HD video monitors as part of an upgrade to the Stage 29 facilities on
Paramount lot. How did that product come about?

CD: It is part of
the new RM series of video monitors. We have been in video monitoring for a
long time but in the last 15 years the in-rack video monitoring market -- and
the non in-rack business as well -- has become a real commodity kind of marketplace.
And that is not a space where we do real well or really I'd want to be spending
a lot of time on because we are a highly focused, pretty small team compared to
people like Miranda [Technologies] and Evertz [Microsystems.]

So when we looked at that business and how we could
completely revamp our video monitor, we decided we had to do something
different. We decided we had to do what we've always done with audio, which is
to offer as many feature sets as we can and make it as convenient as possible
to operate.

So essentially, we included everything in it. Besides the
regular video, you have audio in it. You have Pioneer speakers and headphone
output. We put bar graphs on the actual screen itself and we put waveform
vector scopes in there, so the video engineers can actually check their signal.

And, we're doing this at a price point that is lower than
anyone who is just regular video.

The other thing we did, which is what Dr. Phil picked up on, is that we actually offer two channels per
input, which a lot of people don't. Again, it fits into our philosophy of giving
more for less.

When we started this, the economy was doing well and
we didn't have any idea what would happen to the markets. But now, it means we
have a very cost-effective, very affordable range of video monitoring products that
stand out from the crowd and offers more than everyone else does.