A little information about HDnews

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Sean Mota

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By Mavis Scanlon

It's just about 11 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, and all is calm in the control room adjacent to the studio of HDN, the new 24/7 high-definition news channel from Rainbow Media's Voom satellite service. As two 5-foot-high robotic cameras sweep across the studio floor, anchor Patricia Wu readies herself behind her sleek desk, and news director Raul Jennings, parked in front of a battery of control-room computers, begins the 10-second countdown. Wu then launches into the day's top stories: two deadly bombings in Iraq and the indictment of former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers on conspiracy and securities fraud charges.

A team of 57, including four anchors and five producers, staff the channel, which began as Newsbytes HD last year and officially launched early last month. One of the first recruits was GM William Wright, a veteran news director from WWOR-TV in New York who most recently was executive producer of BET's Nightly News. Patrick Dolan, president of news for Rainbow's News 12 Networks, told a visitor he had been trying "for years" to recruit Wright.

"Will has this passion for news, but he's just so enthusiastic about being an innovator," says Greg Moyer, Rainbow's president of regional programming.

A live 12-minute broadcast kicks off each hour; it is then repeated four times, with updated sports and weather. News features, such as a recent one from Miami on the ecological problems of Florida's Everglades, supplement the headline stories. (A crocodile's tough hide and left eye were startlingly clear in HDN's 1080i HD format.)

Five bureaus contribute state and regional stories; additional HD content comes from outside sources and Rainbow-affiliated companies. Moyer hopes to form a content-sharing pool with broadcasters around the country.

"We'd like to help organize a response to this HD phenomenon within the newsrooms of America," he says.

HDN is the first entirely hi-def, 24/7 all-news channel, according to Moyer. Subscriber growth at Voom will be crucial for HDN's success. Since its October launch, Voom has attracted just over 1,600 customers. The company has had to extend special offers and recently lowered equipment charges to attract subscribers. Meanwhile, HBO and NBC Cable Networks channels added this month leave it with 30 HD and 75 standard-definition offerings.

Moyer, who declined to disclose HDN's budget, says the channel's automated systems and computerization allow it to operate with minimal staffing.The robotic cameras eliminate the need for cameramen, and anchors operate their own teleprompters. A three-person team-a director, a camera operator, who also does lighting, and a sound person operating the Dolby 5.1 audio station-mans a control room that could easily fit three times as many people. There's no professional makeup artist on staff, although a consultant may be hired soon. During a recent broadcast, Wu, who does her own makeup, looked attractive and natural.

Wright, the GM, says one's appearance is enhanced by the high-definition format. Wu herself is not as sanguine. "The old way is a little more forgiving when you're having a bad day," she says.
 
wasch_24

wasch_24

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Mar 30, 2004
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A little off topic, I know.

Sean Mota said:
Wright, the GM, says one's appearance is enhanced by the high-definition format. Wu herself is not as sanguine. "The old way is a little more forgiving when you're having a bad day," she says.
This is a little of topis but this is a very valid qoute. I have noticed on quite a few sitcoms in HD that the makeup artists really need to step up their game because of HD. On Frasier last week you could see makeup streaks on most of the actors faces. I don't know I'm tired and that comment at the end just struck me. :)
 

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