HD Need Fuels New Facility for SPEED

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Racing fans will get an all-HD gift from SPEED in early January when the network officially fires up an all-HD facility and studios in Charlotte, NC. The 77,000-sq.-ft. home will feature two large studios, an insert stage, and an abundance of HD equipment that will make the studio portion of Speed’s programming as sharp and shiny as all-HD field productions.

Rick Miner, SPEED SVP of Production & Network Operations/executive producer, has been at the center of a move that happened at a speed matched only by that of NASCAR’s top drivers. With the help of Fox engineering in Los Angeles and a new VP of Engineering, Tom Creter (a “tremendous addition,” according to Miner), SPEED started the project in June, gutted the building, and raised the ceiling.

Being located in the University Research Park area of Charlotte gave the network a head start. “This area is where a lot of the banks have their offices and heavy-data plants so it has the best fiber and access to power and redundant power in the area,” says Miner.

The heart of the new plant is an Evertz router that allows 125 Dalet heavy client workstations and 12 Apple Final Cut systems (six for craft editing and six in a bullpen-style setup) to tap into an Omneon storage system with 40 ingest ports.

“Our plan is to keep an unlimited amount of low-resolution material on the system with about 14,500 hours of hi-res material recorded at DVCPRO100 quality offloaded from the Omneon servers to an LTO tape archive every year,” explains Miner.

The two stages measure 60 x 60 feet and 60 x 40 feet, respectively, and feature 11 Ikegami HD cameras with Fujinon lenses. They will be operated via two HD control rooms, each featuring a Sony MVS8000 production switcher, Chyron graphics, and a Calrec Omega console. All operations will be in surround sound.

“For studio operations, we’ll run the talent audio right up the middle,” says Miner.

With 140 racks of new equipment in the facility, the signal pumped out to Fox in Los Angeles (where master control is located) will give new consistency to SPEED programming since nearly 100% of programming will be in 720p. “The only programming that won’t be in HD,” says Miner, ”will be some legacy programming and older archive material.”

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