KTV’s new HD centre will become operational this month. Vijaya Cherian takes a look at the kit installed at the facility.
Four years since the idea was first floated, Kuwait TV’s new HD centre is finally set to go to air this month.
Kuwait TV (KTV) was one of the first broadcasters in the GCC to acknowledge High Definition (HD) as the format of the future and perhaps also the first in the region to invest in a HD OB van several years ago. Digital Studio showcased the HD OB van when it was delivered to the state-backed broadcaster.
Since then, while the capital and the ideas have been forthcoming from key decision makers, political changes within the country have substantially slowed down several projects for the state broadcaster although private players like Al Rai and Al Watan TV surged ahead. Al Watan TV especially has a complete HD facility and produces and edits its footage in HD and downconverts to SD for transmission.
Two-and-a-half years ago systems integrator INC was roped in to undertake the systems integration for KTV’s HD centre once the building was constructed.
The project includes two studios, a master control room, two linear editing suites, one non-linear editing suite and a virtual studio.
“This is a full end-to-end HD project. We were responsible for the entire broadcast project including building the studios, planning the acoustics for the same as well as designing, supplying, testing and commissioning the system,” explains Adeeb Abed, division manager, broadcast, INC Kuwait.
Two studios were built to accommodate different production requirements for the state broadcaster.
“As we were involved in the facility from the beginning, we were also involved in fixing the acoustics, identifying the load of the ceiling to ensure it could carry the lights, checking the redundancy, air conditioning, electricity and so on.
“We have built a 600 sq.m studio for six cameras and a 300 sq.m studio that can currently accommodate three cameras. However, they are both wired for expansion in the future.
We opted for the Grassvalley LDK 8000 cameras (with Canon lenses) because the client wanted multi-format cameras with triax support. Along with this, we have also installed vertical KVC cameras,” added Abed, clarifying that INC, although a Thomson certified dealer, does not exclusively distribute Grassvalley products.
“We are primarily a systems integrator that looks to match the client’s requirements. Sometimes, we see that some brands are more popular in some countries and better supported than others or preferred by clients.
For instance, in Kuwait, we do a lot of Thomson but in Qatar, we tend to see more requirements for Sony. It’s a mix of taste, familiarity, support and what the end user is comfortable with. We have gone with top-notch solutions and more importantly, we know how to maintain these systems here,” explains Abed.
The studios are equipped with automated hoists from Sachtler.
The facility also includes two linear editing suites with Sony VTRs and Kayak Vision Mixers to accommodate content that comes in from KTV’s headquarters. Harris provided the graphics, character generators and a couple of standalone servers for the project.
Although Kuwait TV will record and edit in HD at the facility, transmission will continue to be in SD as the country has no plans for the commercial rollout of HDTV yet.
The project brought with it several challenges, explains Abed.
Besides having to work with several different contractors at the same time – a common phenomenon with most broadcast projects in the Middle East – acoustics required extra attention, says Abed.
“This facility is located in a noisy area. We worked with Sandy Brown, a UK-based consultant to design the acoustics for the facility and a significant part of the investment went for this part of the project,” he explains.
The new facility is fully equipped and was ready to go on air during Ramadan. However, as with most facilities in the GCC, KTV is grappling with power issues that are expected to be resolved this month.
“Everything is in place and we’ve conducted all the tests with the help of generators to ensure the studios could be used during Ramadan. However, there is no electricity in the building. We believe that the facility will be operational by Eid,” explains Adeb.
Although KTV will continue its transmissions from the older facility, the new centre is fully equipped with HD technology should the state broadcaster plan to roll out HD in the future.