Viewers of KUSA 9News in Denver recently witnessed the latest step in the station’s high definition push – a new set designed specifically to take advantage of HD.
KUSA's new HD set is built with several backlit murals printed to take advantage of HD’s depth of field.
In the drive to convert the station’s news operations to HD, care was taken not to tinker with existing work patterns.
In the studio, eight Sony HD studio cameras and one prototype high-def POV camera acquire HD shots of the talent and set.
The set, which debuted April 29, takes advantage of a number of unique HD attributes. It’s wider to fill the 16:9 aspect ratio; it’s arranged properly so talent can’t accidentally lean into cross-angle shots; it’s built with several backlit murals printed to take advantage of HD’s depth of field; and it’s designed to capitalize on the HD’s resolution and color fidelity.
Currently, there are an estimated 80,000 HD-capable sets in the Denver viewing area.
The station relies on a mix of HD and 16:9 SD sources that are upconverted to high definition to create its high-def presence. In the studio, eight Sony HD studio cameras and one prototype high-def POV camera acquire HD shots of the talent and set.
Two HD cameras are mounted to the station’s news helicopter. A Sony 950, as part of a gyro-stabilized Cineflex system, is mounted to the nose of a Helinet Aviation Services helicopter. Inside the chopper, a second HD camera provides shots of the talent.
The station’s ENG crews currently shoot 16:9 SD footage in the field, which is upconverted at the station to HD for integration into the high-def newscast. Back at the station, all HD and upconverted SD sources are switched from an upgraded Sony 8000 production switcher. Currently, graphics are upconverted to HD for the newscasts.
“We also made lots of display changes,” said Don Perez, KUSA director of engineering, of the conversion to HD operations. “We spend a fair amount of time on the displays in the control room at QC positions and in edit bays at various facilities around the plant. When it comes to QC, you obviously want to see HD resolution, but elsewhere in a lot of cases you are more concerned with the aspect ratio issue rather than HD resolution.”
In the drive to convert the station’s news operations to HD, care was taken not to tinker with existing work patterns. “The goal is for everyone to do the same thing today in HD that they were doing yesterday in SD,” said Perez.
But that approach only goes so far. One of the biggest challenges the station has faced since making its commitment to originate newscasts in HD is being an HD island in an SD world.
“The challenge is more about aspect ratio,” said Perez. “I think in a lot of ways you are shooting one aspect ratio but the rest of the world is in another so you have to deal with other outside sources and the associated conversion issues. I think that is probably one of our biggest challenges.