Hdtv 24/7

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Sean Mota

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Producers Are Writing the Rules on Creating a Steady Stream of High-Def Programming By Peter Caranicas

HD 24/7 is for real. HDNet at a Major League Soccer game.
Skeptics can now move aside. High-definition television — that long-ridiculed stepchild of Congress and the FCC, born as an analog baby, now entering its digital adolescence, is flowering into an energetic young adult, ready to transform television, enhance entertainment — and create jobs.

At least, that’s what one multibillion-dollar corporation is betting on as it sets up the infrastructure for a multi-channel, satellite-delivered HD service. The company is Cablevision Systems, which, through its Rainbow DBS satellite division, has launched VOOM, a television service offering an array of 39 high-definition channels to subscribers coast to coast as part of a broad lineup of well over 100 channels — including many in standard-def. Twenty-one of the HD channels are exclusive to VOOM.

HDNet NHL coverage

VOOM is presenting itself as a total replacement for existing satellite and cable services, according to John McKee, senior VP of customer operations. “Our business plan is predicated on the fact that we have the dominant offering of HD services,” he explains. “We believe that when people experience HDTV, they won’t see any reason to keep their previous providers.”

Ten of VOOM’s exclusive HD channels are devoted to movie services, showing commercial-free films transferred to HD. Eleven of the channels, however, are exclusive VOOM non-movie HD channels. They are programmed by Rainbow Media Holdings, Cablevision’s programming arm, and include an array of commercial-free offerings, all broadcasting in 1080i — the format commonly acknowledged as offering the highest quality available in broadcasting today.

Big Money
Which raises the obvious question: How do you go about producing (and acquiring) thousands of hours of HD programming annually without breaking the bank? The easy answer is that you can break the bank. Rainbow parent Cablevision has very deep pockets — the company generates nearly $4 billion annually.

Although executives have been vague about the costs of starting VOOM, they have not disputed published reports that the company spent at least half a billion dollars to build the satellite, launch it, put a new organization together and get the business off the ground. That doesn’t count additional investments in plant, equipment and human resources for production, post-production, and program commissioning.


VOOM coverage of Fashion Week in New York City
Greg Moyer, who has the formal title of president of regional programming for Rainbow Media, is overseeing all original production for VOOM. His specialty, honed by 13 years at Discovery Communications and five at Rainbow, is producing nonfiction information programming.

“My job is to oversee 10 non-movie channels, all of them broadcasting 24/7,” he explains. Not counting acquired content, each of these channels is gearing up to produce 200 to 300 hours of original programming per year. “We’re talking about thousands of hours of high-def television per year, not even counting news. And we want everything to be shot in HD.”

Moyer stresses that the quality of VOOM’s audiovisual experience is a high priority. Rainbow’s in-house production capability is based on Sony HD cameras and “whenever possible, our choice is to shoot in 1080i,” he says. “Also, whenever it’s within our control and makes sense for the program, we’re going to be mixing to 5.1 surround audio for a full experience.”

Rainbow has built what Moyer describes as “one of the largest HD post facilities anywhere,” with seven HD-capable Avid suites operating and additional ones to open in 2005. The facility is located at Rainbow’s Penn Plaza offices in Manhattan, across the street from Cable-vision-owned Madison Square Garden.


HDNet coverage of the war in Iraq
New York’s production and post community is “absolutely agog” with Rainbow’s sudden HD activity, says Moyer. But, he adds, not enough people in the area have been trained in HD work. “In six months we’ve found everybody who knows how to do HD, plus we started training new HD editors. Production outfits all over town have benefited from our start-up.”

Calling All Independents
An enterprise as ambitious as VOOM cannot fill all its own production needs internally, so Rainbow is outsourcing work. “We’re signing others to shoot on our behalf, and in some cases, finish and post on our behalf,” says Moyer. “We’re aggressively going out to people with experience in HD and getting them shoot a show in HD, but then edit it in SD, and then we do the conform edit in HD within our environment.


A Dallas HDNet shoot for the True Music show featuring the band Perfect Stranger
“This two-step process,” he explains, “is a way to save on costs because the creative decisions are made in a less expensive and bottlenecked environment. We have 17 Avid SD rooms to play with.”

Rainbow is also saving money by not upgrading its two SD studios to HD for the time being, since most of its shows do not require a studio base. The only exception is VOOM’s HD news channel — dubbed HDN — which is based in a new HD three-camera set housed in the company’s Long Island facility.

Another part of Rainbow’s strategy for staying cost-efficient is to acquire HD programming rather than produce it. Says Moyer: “We’re going into a commissioning model where we go to production companies to bring us their ideas. Or we may have an idea and get them to work for hire. We’re open to a number of arrangements.”

Moyer notes that “there are people all over the world shooting in HD, and we’re trying to find out about them so we can acquire from them and/or co-produce with them if the content matches to any of the channels we’ve launched.”

There's more pages if you want to read everything
 
squicken

squicken

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"the format commonly acknowledged as offering the highest quality available in broadcasting today."
“whenever possible, our choice is to shoot in 1080i,”

Good find Sean. However, certain folks might not like the above quotes. HDN is in Long Island? Well, at least it's not New Jersey.
 
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Sean Mota

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Here's more guys... at the end of article:

Basic Postproduction Workflow
Upon return to VOOM’s Rainbow Studios at 11 Penn Plaza, HD camera field tapes frequently enter the workflow at SD resolution for logging, rough cut, and even the basic final show cut (excluding some effects and transitions) to take advantage of a larger and more economical in-house SD infrastructure. The HD tape content is output at this lower resolution via the SD signal path native to the Sony HDCAM M2000 and JH-1 tape decks (or sometimes, in the case of the JH-1, the 1394 data port for import to Avid Express Pro). After this offline phase, projects migrate to the AVID Nitris HD suites for HD resolution ingest of the content required by the imported SD timeline. Final edit (including HD transitions, effects, and graphics), 5.1 audio mixing, and mastering back to HDCAM tape via a Dolby encoder complete the process.

An alternative to this workflow bypasses the SD offline phase with start-to-finish HD editing directly on the Nitris platform. Apple Final Cut Pro is also used on VOOM’s MOOV channel. Rainbow’s HD linear suite is used for editing longform content such as pre-recorded sporting events. It is also used for tilt-and-scan on 4x3 aspect ratio content as well as upconversion of cel-based animation. This room does double duty as an HD production control room for HD studio productions within the facility.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HD FAST FACTS

Location Production
• Sony HDW-700A cameras/
HD camcorders
• Panasonic AJ-HDC20AP DVC-PRO
HD camcorders
• Canon 18x and 11x HD lenses
• Angenieux 10x HD lenses
Mobil Unit HD1
• Two Sony HDC-900 1080i/60
HDTV studio cameras
• Three Sony HDC-950 1080i/60
HDTV handheld cameras
• GVG LDK-6000 MKII 1080i/60
Triax HDTV handheld camera
• Three Canon HDTV studio lenses
• Three Canon HDTV ENG lenses
• Two Canon wide-angle
HDTV ENG lenses
• Vinten pan-and-tilt heads
• Lowell DT-98 lighting kit
• Two Sony HDW-500 HDCAM HDTV
VTRs w/DNF controllers
• One Sony MAV-555/36 HDTV DDR
(1-in-1 out) w/DNF controller
• One Sony HDW-500 HDCAM
HDTV VTR for program record
• One Snell & Wilcox HD1024
24-input HDTV production switcher

Mobil Unit HD2
• Two Sony HDC-900 1080i/60
HDTV studio cameras
• Three Sony HDC-950 1080i/60 HDTV handheld cameras
• Two Canon HDTV studio lenses
• Three Canon HDTV ENG lenses
• Two Canon wide-angle
HDTV ENG lenses
• Two Vinten Vector 70
pan-and-tilt heads
• One Lowell DT-98 lighting kit
• Two Sony HDW-500 HDCAM
HDTV VTRs w/DNF controllers
• One Sony MAV-555/36 HDTV
DDR (1-in-1 out) w/DNF controller
• One Snell & Wilcox HD1024
24-input HDTV production switcher

Edit Suite and Control Room
• Final Cut Pro
• Mac G4s
• Mac G5s
• Kona HD boards
• Pinnacle HD boards
• Snell & Wilcox switcher
• Sony 9100 edit controller
• Sony HDCAM VCRs (HDW-500,
HDW-2000, JH-1, JH-3)
• Panasonic HD DVCPRO VCRs
(AJ-HD130 & AJ-HD-150)
• Maya graphics
• Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and
After Effects
• Assorted gear from Lightwave,
SGI and Pixel Power
• Master Control is MPEG-2 server based.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DISHING VOOM
Consumers ordering VOOM get a unique satellite dish that, in addition to receiving the VOOM channels from space, also contains an over-the-air antenna capable of receiving digital terrestrial feeds. While the process is invisible to the consumer, the VOOM technology enables simultaneous reception of satellite and terrestrial signals, allowing easy reception of local TV stations as well as anticipating the day when these same stations will multiplex their signals, transmitting more than one program at a time.

VOOM FAST FACTS

Cameras
• One Sony CineAlta HDW-F900
(record/playback in 1080/24p, 30p or 60i)
• Eleven Sony CineAlta HDW-750s
(record/playback in 1080/30p or 60i)

Lenses
• Five Canon HJ21e x 7.8B
• Four Canon HJ11e x 4.7B wide angle
• Three Canon HJ16e x 8.4

Editing
• Seven Avid Nitris HD nonlinear edit
suites with networked remote
processing
• One dual-purpose linear HD edit suite/
HD production control room with
Snell & Wilcox HD switcher,
Chyron HD Duet, Miranda Kaleido
and Zaxcom Arria audio mixer
• 20 Avid SD edit suites (primarily
Media Composer and Adrenaline),
15 Avid Xpress Pro stations and three Avid Unitys with 17 TB storage are available as a shared resource for
offline HD workflow
• Two Apple Final Cut Pro edit
workstations

Central Infrastructure
• 15 Sony M2000 HDCAM VTRs
• 17 Sony JH-1 HDCAM
tape decks
• Grass Valley HD Profile video file server
• Teranex Xantus upconverter
• Dolby 5.1 encoding and decoding

Lighting
• Four Arri kits
• Seven Frezzi Ultralights
Other
• Pro Tools suite with HDCAM
and Dolby 5.1 encode and decode
• Shure portable audio mixers
• Sennheiser shotgun mics
• Sony wireless mics
• Vinten and Sachtler tripods
• 14 Sony D9H5U HD field monitors
• Three Sony RMB 750 remote-
control units
• Anton Bauer and Sony batteries

VOOM’s Exclusive Non-Film HD Channels
Monsters scary stuff
Epics heroes and the human spirit
World Sport from the U.S. and overseas
Rush HD extreme sports
Rave HD music and concerts
Ultra HD fashion and food trends
Treasure HD collectors and collectibles
Gallery HD museums and architecture
Animania long- and short-form animation
MOOV artistic images set to music
 
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Sean Mota

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So you guys think they are for real or what?
 
HeavyC

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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What's all that talk about HDNet? Are they coming to VOOM?
 
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Sean Mota

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From the article one of the pictures states "VOOM Racing Coverage". I haven't seen this, in RUSH or WorldSport. Maybe this is coming...
 
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Sean Mota

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HeavyC said:
What's all that talk about HDNet? Are they coming to VOOM?

No the purpose of the article. But just outlining that both HDnet and VOOM are there trying to shoot countless hours of HD to show it in their channels and do it 24/7 as opposed to the networks who are partly doing it now.
 
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Sean Mota

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cyuhnke said:
"the format commonly acknowledged as offering the highest quality available in broadcasting today."
“whenever possible, our choice is to shoot in 1080i,”

Good find Sean. However, certain folks might not like the above quotes. HDN is in Long Island? Well, at least it's not New Jersey.

then what about this statement by HDnet:

"“There’s no such thing as upconverted SD on HDNet or HDNet Movies,” stresses Garvin. HDNet defines HD as 1080i. “We don’t like 24p or 720p,” he adds. “We don’t think the quality is there.” (Garvin is based at the network’s Denver operations center and studio. HDNet has about 70 employees, mostly in Denver and Dallas.)"
 
squicken

squicken

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Sean Mota said:
then what about this statement by HDnet:

"“There’s no such thing as upconverted SD on HDNet or HDNet Movies,” stresses Garvin. HDNet defines HD as 1080i. “We don’t like 24p or 720p,” he adds. “We don’t think the quality is there.” (Garvin is based at the network’s Denver operations center and studio. HDNet has about 70 employees, mostly in Denver and Dallas.)"
I actually am confused by the whole 1080-720 thing, but I know that certain people really have an opinion. I don't think the 720 guys are going to like to here Voom talking this way. Isn't 24p what movies are shot in?
 
HeavyC

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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I would just jump for joy if they added HDNet though. You would really think the value would be there if those two teamed up. The leading HD Sat Provider teamed up with the leading HD Material Producer. You have to figure it's going to happen at some point.
 
HeavyC

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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Is there someone we can talk to, to make our opinions known that HDNet is something we want? INHD1 and 2 would be awesome as well.
 
Scott Greczkowski

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The only person stopping HDNet from coming to VOOM is Mark Cuban of HDNet, I guess he is not happy that Cablevision will not carry HDNet so he will not let VOOM carry it.

Maybe you can get him to change his mind. Email him, mark@hd.net
 
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GadgetRick

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Apr 11, 2004
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What?

At least it's not in New Jersey!!?? Not sure I understand that quote since Jersey is waaaay better than Long Island.... ;)

The Rickster
 
HeavyC

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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Scott Greczkowski said:
The only person stopping HDNet from coming to VOOM is Mark Cuban of HDNet, I guess he is not happy that Cablevision will not carry HDNet so he will not let VOOM carry it.

Maybe you can get him to change his mind. Email him, mark@hd.net

Well, it can't hurt. I'll shoot him an email. I've always liked and respected Mark Cuban.
 
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cotybroussard

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Apr 21, 2004
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Port Neches, TX
Mark's response

I emailed Mark at hdnet and his exact response was "not going to happen. we are happy with dish and direct as our sat providers. Sorry.

M"

So it doesn't look like we will have HDnet any time soon.
 
HeavyC

HeavyC

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Apr 20, 2004
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That's cool. I emailed him anyway. The more people he hears it from the better the chances are of him eventually changing his mind. I think Mark is a business man above all else.
 
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mattyro

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Apr 19, 2004
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Hi Mark- I d like to expose your channel to millions more people and raise your revenue from sales, advertising and per capita.You will double your company's income. Mark's response:"Duh, I'm happy with Dish and Direct." Either he is a lousy businessman or a complete idiot.I dont think he is either, but he's trying his best to prove he doesnt know what he's doing.
 
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rang1995

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He may be a pioneer in HDTV but me thinks he has a BIG ego problem..He must be mad that Voom beat him to the punch on some of their programming..I don't wish to get him upset but that's the way it looks and Mark, remember the godfather."it's just business" HDTV on as many outlets will help all,i think it was you that said that..So why don't Mark and Charles sit down and make peace therefore getting more HDTV on the air, therefor getting more people to buy HDTV and the services therefor getting more customers,more $ more programming etc etc ..remember HDTV is still a unknown to most of this country
 

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