OEN Launches High-Def Production Arm

Optical Entertainment Network, an Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) provider that has launched video and broadband services in the Houston area, has created a high-definition production company, OEN Studios, that will create HDTV content for the syndication market and will also produce programming to support new high-def networks that will be carried on OEN’s fiber-to-the-home television service, which it calls FISION.

OEN Studios currently has 15 new HDTV series in production, six of which it plans to pilot and make ready for syndication at the MIPTV show in Cannes, France, this April; the HD networks aren’t slated for launch until early 2007.

The production company is initially focusing on reality-based programming, says Glen W. Fulce, executive VP of OEN Studios, and will also be developing HD commercials, documentaries, sitcoms, dramatic series and feature films; it is already negotiating with a Houston real estate firm to produce HD commercials featuring luxury apartment buildings.

OEN Studios is operating with a sound stage and three edit bays and is currently producing in the compressed HDV tape format, using JVC cameras.

"The reason I like HDV is that I can put 15 cameras in the field for the same price that I can put two in Varicam [Panasonic’s high-end HD camera]," says Fulce, who has a background in reality TV and has done production work for shows like America’s Most Wanted.

While Fulce is happy with HDV, he is looking to convert OEN Studios to a fully tapeless workflow and is currently evaluating disk-based cameras from Thomson Grass Valley and Avid that will allow OEN to produce in Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD high-def format, which has a bit rate of 100 Mbps compared to HDV’s 25 Mbps.

Fulce estimates that OEN will spend over $2 million during the next six months upgrading its HD production gear.