Time for More HDTV

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High Noon Entertainment, a leading producer of unscripted series for cable networks including Food Network, Home & Garden Television, Fine Living, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, has made a significant investment in HDTV production that will result in the creation of 375 hours of high-def episodes for those networks through the rest of the year.

That means 75% of the production company’s output will now be in HDTV.

Executives with the nine-year-old company said they want High Noon to lead the industry in the technology, but added that its clients have demanded this revolution.

'REALLY FIRED UP’

CEO Jim Berger said High Noon has previously done some HDTV work for Discovery, but added that clients such as Scripps Networks have “really fired up their commitment” to HDTV.

That triggered the decision to invest in equipment and to retrain technical staff to make the transition from “a handful” of HDTV episodes to the greater tonnage.

High Noon includes Rocket Pictures, Great Divide Pictures and High Noon Productions. The three production companies have created more than 1,500 television hours. They joined together in June to form High Noon.

Its output includes such cable staples as Food Network’s Unwrapped, Surprise By Design on Discovery Channel and Stripped on Style Network. Its broadcast client is Pax TV, which airs Faith Under Fire.

The company has invested $3 million in a 26,000-square-foot production studio in Denver, permitting greater quality and cost control, executives said. The Los Angeles office has a staff of 50.

The aim is to make the transition while HDTV production is still in the adoption phase. “We want to learn our lessons now,” Berger said.

“The transition has been pretty easy. The HD cameras are very user-friendly: in a few hours, an experienced cameraman can learn how to use them,” added co-chief creative officer Chris Wheeler.

HD adds a bit more time on the post-production side, as more time is needed to find archival elements for shows that can be reproduced as quality images. Clients pay a 25% premium for series produced in HD, chief operating officer Duke Hartman said.

Among the new HDTV series destined for cable are:

  • Sugar Rush, Food Network: A 13-episode series on top confections and new artisans in the world of desserts.
  • My First Place, HGTV: The network has ordered 65 episodes for a primetime series, following first-time homeowners as they find their first property and try to furnish it.
  • Offbeat America, HGTV: A look at “awe-inspiring individuals” and their creations; 26 episodes.
  • Rezoned, HGTV: A renovation showcase focusing on people who take an old structure, like a church or an abandoned jail, and turn it into a house; 65 episodes.
  • Kicked Out, ABC Family: Families oust their 20-something slackers from home, who then get 10 days of parental challenges to prove they can make it on their own in the world.

SCRIPPS RENEWALS

Scripps Networks has also renewed HGTV’s Generation Renovation, Designer Finals, and If Walls Could Talk, Food’s Unwrapped and Food Network Challenge, DIY’s Trade School; and Fine Living’s What You Get for the Money. Also renewed is Stripped on Style.

Asked whether the on-air talent is sweating the close, clear scrutiny of an HDTV lens, Wheeler said, “Care is being taken … makeup is being approached differently, and we want to stay away from extreme close-ups.”

Shot selections will be made based on the best way to tell a story, he said.

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