Tennis Channel taps VSG for move to HD

By Andrew Lippe

There is no place like home and now the Tennis Channel feels that sentiment. In preparation for the Tennis Channel HD launch on DIRECTV, the Tennis Channel needed to build its own home with a master control room to accommodate their HD simulcasts and found it in Culver City, CA in a facility previously operated by Fox Sports. It contains a 5,000-sq. ft. production stage, a master control room and two production control rooms.

“The facility allowed us to have a master control, and greater flexibility with graphics,” says Keith Manasco, vice president of operations, for The Tennis Channel. The Tennis Channel is a 24-hour network that telecasts many of the big tennis events of the year including Wimbledon, tennis from Roland Garros in Paris, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Open Series. The Tennis Channel will take in about 1,500 hours of live tournament feeds this year alone and the production stage enables Tennis Channel to create original HD programming. “We have intentions of launching our shows,” adds Manasco.

The space was designed by Los Angeles architecture firm Eric Owen Moss, and the Venue Serves Group was responsible for the installation. Dave Shaw, president of Venue Services Group, says all facilities were prewired and VSG also made sure audio consoles and racks were properly secured and bolted. “We tied five racks together and shipped them pre-wired,” Shaw added.

The Tennis Channel has two Chyron HyperX HD graphics machines installed with one in each production control room. Both production rooms are both equipped with an HD videotape recorders (HDcam format), and an EVS SpotBox server. The production switcher and routers are both Sony products. The Tennis Channel also uses a Masstech archival system for programming. The Masstech archive takes new material from the Nexio playout server and copies it onto tape. The Masstech also pushes material to back to the servers by scanning the automation play list.

The gear in master control room accommodates channel automation using a Harris Icon master control switcher and a Harris Nexio playout server. “Harris brought channel automation under one roof,” adds Manasco. Doremi digital video recorders, Sony LCD monitors along with a Miranda Kaledio-X processor are found in the master control room.

The infrastructure in the facility is clearly capable for future upgrades. “We built this place with anticipation and growth toward the future,” adds Manasco.