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Speed Opens New Charlotte HD Facility

Speed has started producing studio programming in high-definition from its new Charlotte, N.C. headquarters. Studio shows produced from the new HD facility include The SPEED Report, This Week in NASCAR and Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain, as well as a number of segments that appear in programs from live venues.

Speed began offering a HD simulcast in February 2008, with HD coverage of NASCAR and other live events, and had been working on a new headquarters and studio space in Charlotte since June.

As part of the new HD facility, which began operations on Jan. 11, the network also moved to a totally tapeless system.

Speed is the second Fox network to go tapeless. The Big Ten Network -- a joint venture between Fox Cable Networks and the Big Ten Conference -- was the first.

"The new facility is a big change and represents a major improvement to what we can do for all our platforms," said Rick Miner, senior vice president of production and network operations and executive producer at Speed.

Besides now being able to produce all of its studio programming 720p HD, Miner also said the tapeless workflow will significantly strengthen Speed's ability to "be much more nimble in delivering content on all the platforms -- for the linear network, iPods, cell phone, online, VOD, you name it. We can now handle all of that internally."
The new Charlotte facility has two main stages and a third smaller insert stage, Miner said.

"We have two identical control rooms with Sony 8000s [Sony MVS-8000 production switcher systems] that are fully loaded, and in the 3rd we have a Ross switcher," Miner said.

The sets were moved from their older locations but have been upgraded for HD production.

As part of the new facility the channel also acquired 13 Ikegami studio cameras and Dalet Digital Media Systems is supplying the software to control the tapeless work flow. Other vendors include Calrec Audio, Front Porch, IBM and Omneon.

The Charlotte facility has dedicated fiber to Speed's master control room in Los Angeles on the Fox lot.
Miner, who oversaw the technical build-out of the facility, credits Fox Network Engineering & Operations for excellent design and engineering work that allowed them to complete such a massive project in such a short time.

They also used two outside integrators: Diversified Systems for the broadcast plant infrastructure and NTC for the file based work flow.