Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Makes Jump to HD With CEI

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic recently revamped its facilities, making the switch to HD with the help of Communications Engineering Inc. (CEI) and such vendors as Fujinon, Harris, and Sony. For CEI and Comcast Mid-Atlantic staff, the tight turnaround (with construction beginning in May) wasn’t the only challenge.

“It was a pretty sizable job, and the big thing was, we were starting with something that already existed,” says CEI Marketing Director Gregg Echols. “But we also had to do it without taking the network off-air.”

The project, which was completed on time and on budget, included upgrades to the production-control room and studio, two additional master-control rooms, equipment core area, transmission system, and additional edit suites.

The juggling to stay on-air, for example, involved completing the new master-control rooms so that the Comcast staff could then operate out of those rooms while the preexisting SD rooms made the leap to HD.

“Before, their limited capability for HD was primarily via the production trucks at an event,” says Echols. “The result of this is, now everything can be done in HD.”

The upgrade included Harris NEXIO Volt video servers and NetVX HD encoders, waveform monitors, and terminal gear. A Miranda master-control switcher and NVision router with Miranda Kaleido-X multiviewer processing were also installed. Production gear includes a Sony MVX-8000 switcher, Click Effects HD clip server, Sony HXC-100K HD cameras, and Fujinon ZA17X7.6BERM ⅔-in. HD lenses.

“CEI has enabled us to deliver all of our news and entertainment shows to our viewers in HD,” says Steve Weber, director of engineering for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. “Our new Fujinon lenses are an important part of the upgraded look of our network. They really deliver outstanding images of our studio programming.”

Postproduction changes include Harris Velocity and Apple Final Cut editing systems and Chyron Hyperx3 character generator.

“We also had to juggle the edit-suite upgrades to keep everything live on-air, and the challenge was a hard deadline of the beginning of the football season,” adds Echols. “Our guys did a good job, and it was a nice project for a good client, which made it more smooth.”

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