SD4, home of the San Diego Padres, flips switch on new HD studio, production facility tonight

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Channel 4 San Diego, broadcast home of the San Diego Padres, today will open a new window, literally, on its post game coverage as a new studio facility located directly behind Petco Park goes live tonight. The studio features a dramatic glass backdrop that will give viewers and anchors a window into the ballpark with a majority of the field and stands visible.

The move will allow SD4 to deliver much more pre- and post-game coverage as well as a studio show with analysis and other content. “We’ll be able to have a half-hour on coverage on either side of the game for both home and away games,” says Dennis Morgigno, Channel 4 San Diego station manager. Prior to today post-game coverage, for example, consisted of an on-the-field report.

At the center of the new facility are three core technologies: a Grass Valley Ignite production system, Apple Final Cut Pro and Xsan servers (coupled with Siena software), and an AP/ENPS newsroom automation system. A two-channel Chyron Hyper X with Clip Motion is also on hand.

Darrell Wenhardt and his team at Creative Broadcast Techniques Systems helped design and build the plant that has 25,000 sq. ft. of technical and production facilities and 15,000 sq. ft. of administrative offices.

“Implementing an all-Apple computer video server network and its associated workflow and AP/ENPS integration was the biggest challenge,” says Wenhardt.

Andrew Darcy, Media Systems Engineer for Creative Broadcast Techniques Systems has been integrating six Apple Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing systems and a 44 TB Apple Xsan server at the facility. One of the key components is Sienna software that immediately makes low-res proxy video of HD material being ingested on the server available within five minutes after ingest begins. It also allows for logging of metadata and ties into the ENPS system so rundowns can be opened and modified. “We can drag-and-drop clips associated with stories,” says Darcy. The 44 TB Xsan system can store about 900 hours of HD content at 1080i/60 fps in the DVCRPO HD format.

Morgigno says the decision to embrace Ignite will help dedicate resources to content creation rather than camera or tape operation. “We wanted to put our money where it counts which is production,” says Morgigno. “It made no sense to have a manual system where we would have to hire a lot of people. It just makes more sense to put people into content and production roles instead of sitting behind a camera.”

Morgigno consulted with Wenhardt closely, laying out exactly what it is the channel hopes to accomplish. On one hand it was to give more depth to the pre- and post-game reports. On another it was to lay the groundwork for even more programming, like a possible daily sports report. Also after July the network hopes to implement an MCR playout and commercial insertion system that will move more control functionality to the new facility.

“We were one of the first sports operations to do all field production in HD,” says Morgigno of an HD truck that, when first constructed, was just the ninth available in the country. “We’ve been doing HD on home games for almost three years.”

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