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Synergy With Comcast Has Moved G4

When Tele-Communications Inc. was sold to AT&T Corp., John Malone inserted language in the deal that would allow his Liberty Media Corp. to attempt to develop a dozen new cable networks for AT&T Broadband.

The networks never came together, but the infrastructure did — in the form of digital media-production centers in Denver and here.

G4, the network for video game aficionados, has become a beneficiary of those production dreams, thanks to parent Comcast Corp., which acquired the media center when it bought AT&T Broadband.

In an apparent vote of confidence in the growth of the less-than-2-year-old network, Comcast Corp. has dropped the business-to-business production activities that were housed in the Los Angeles facility, moving G4's scattered local offices into a single, 80,000-square-foot location.

A year ago, the lease for G4's office space was about to expire. Activities like preproduction, production and postproduction were inconveniently conducted in different places.

As COO Debra Green hunted for larger offices, production people pushed for studios bigger than the single facility leased from Spanish-language TV station KJLA. It was looking as if G4 would have to locate its studios even further away, in the San Fernando Valley, to get the necessary space.

Green was about a week away from signing a lease for an office — coincidentally, immediately next door to the Los Angeles Digital Media Center — when Comcast vice president of programming investments Amy Banse called to suggest that facility as a new home.

G4's new home has three studios, 14 editing bays and 25 master control pods. What might be most obvious to viewers, though, is a new games lab. This facility allows staffers to play games while capturing the action directly on video for use in shows, allowing for crisper images.

The retrofit took the network's focus and culture into account. Symbols from video games are incorporated into the flooring, and conference rooms are named after such games as Revenger.

G4 took up residence on Feb. 2, relocating from one spot on Olympic Boulevard in West Los Angeles to a location on the same street, about one block away.

“We only have to change two digits” on stationery and business cards, joked network founder and CEO Charles Hirschhorn. “If we had less capital equipment, we could have carried it.”

The expanded production facility should allow G4 to accelerate its plan to boost its original hours of production — including some live shows — because crews won't have to break down an old set and build a new one every time a different show is taped.

And on air, G4 will go from “acceptable graphics” to a more professional look, with quality control done in-house.