Sunday, June 24, 2007

Closer to the dream-Warning, TV geek alert!

Since I work in TV, have for many years, I have no doubt been exposed to the next generation of TV, Hi-Def, or as we call it in highly technical terms, "HD". Channel 12, KPNX is the first station to go to HD in the Phoenix market, and now KTVK Channel 3 is HD. I am sure that the rest of the stations will be following suit anytime now.

But, one of my biggest dreams was to finally re-configure Master Control and the TOC. The way it is currently laid out is inefficient, what I call "Drive-by Installation". That is where engineers have gotten a new piece of equipment and just basically thrown it in rack, powered it on and then said to the "vidiots", "you're on your own, good luck", leaving the operators to de-bug the stuff by themselves. You can't really blame the guys, because it's ultimately up to the higher ups with the money who really ought to just do it right instead of trying to scrimp on cost. That really does end up costing them more in the long run as many times we end up having to do something else to make it work correctly. Sometimes I really wonder how this country works if management at our company does everything the way they do, how many other company's do the same thing? I also think sometimes I work at "Initech" of "Office Space" fame. But hey, every place has it's Lumberg and Milton right?

One of my major pet peeves in the TV industry is that for some reason, new equipment has to be installed during sweeps periods which is not a good idea. The reason I am sure is that management wants to show off new stuff to impress the viewers, which is really kinda dumb, given the fact that if the operators are not up to speed, it can be a train wreck if something goes wrong and then you have management breathing down your neck thinking it was your fault!

Anyway, the engineers at the station have started to work on installing the new HD ready switcher and ancillary equipment. I am excited as I had a hand in laying out how it will look and work, keeping in mind that the operators need to be able to access everything in one place. The city of Phoenix is currently building the new light rail system right on Central Ave where we are located, and I have joked under the old configuration, we would need track to get to everything in master to do our job. If you want to do A, you have to go over here, if you want to do B, you have to go over here, so you get the idea, it's all not very efficiently laid out for the MCO's.

So, below is a pic of the new desk with the new flat screen monitors they just installed. They also hooked up the new Miranda PresStation SD/ HD switcher (below), which I understand from the lead engineer, "Darth Voss" (God love him, he's great) that it's is not as good or as versatile as the old standby, Grass Valley M-2100 (up above, it looks better when lit up like in the shot below). I have been reading the manual (am I a geek or what?) and it does have some pretty neat functions and I am looking forward to learning how to use it. The PresStation is capable of controlling up to 200 different channels (can you say Network?) although I am not sure of the configuration the station got. On top of all that, KPNX has finally made a move toward dedicated digital as they just installed the GVG Trinix routing system, which is the industry standard.

I would have preferred they upgraded the M-2100 to handle HD since all the MCO's are familiar with that switcher and it wouldn't take any more time to familiarize ourselves with it. But hey, management are not normally known for their common sense and to me it's another example of the powers that be wanting to get the "bestest, mostest and newest" with as little money as they can. Word has it that we may end up with a new switcher in '09 as the Miranda is not as versatile for a market the size of Phoenix, more like Tucson or even Flagstaff. but here are a few pics I took the other day.