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Recently featured Key Code Media and the Conan Show (Conan O’Brien) Production Facilities

February 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s a few tidbits floating around the web about  our integration and technical services we recently were involved in with the Conan Show

from Computer Graphics World

January 25, 2011

Grass Valley, Calif. – Getting the one-hour variety show, “CONAN” to air every week is no small feat. The program is shot in front of a live studio audience in Burbank, California, and employs a variety of AJA  products including Hi5, HA5, HD10CEA, HD10C2, and HD10DA — over 90 total AJA Mini-Converters — to keep the production flowing smoothly.

While the show is pre-recorded, it’s produced and cut as if it were live since the east coast feed is transmitted one hour after taping wraps. “AJA equipment definitely allows us to work more flexibly and more quickly,” said Chris Savage who serves as the Lead Camera Utility on “CONAN”. “The needs of the show change every day — with varying requirements for monitoring, computers, new camera feeds and sometimes even video material that guests bring onto the show. AJA’s Mini-Converters provide us with the flexibility to accommodate whatever needs arise and the reliability that our quick turnaround production cycles depend upon.”

There are 13 60-inch LCD monitors mounted above the audience in the studio seating area. The stage was initially designed to run an SD signal to those monitors, but in production the feed interfered with fluorescent lighting on stage to cause a roll in the picture. The show turned to AJA Hi5 Mini-Converters to convert the HD-SDI signal to HDMI to drive an HD feed of the program onto the monitors. The Hi5s provided a quick, easy and cost-effective solution that was plug-and-play with the existing production infrastructure.

For the show’s ‘Conan Video Blog’ segments, the AJA HA5 Mini-Converter is used to pull a video signal from a laptop used in the broadcast. AJA KONA 3 and KONA LHi capture cards are also used as part of the show’s Apple Final Cut Pro editing workflow and AJA VTR Xchange software is used for remote deck control via the KONA card’s RS-422 interface.

Savage stated that the biggest benefit of using AJA Mini-Converters is their portability, “Being able to plug and unplug, and not have to go to a rack or moreover to another building to patch and down-convert or re-clock is a huge advantage,” concluded Savage.

Key Code Media in Burbank designed and installed the edit system and server, and NEP, a national outsourced tele-production services company, designed and set up a lot of the production equipment for the show.

For the full article visit: http://www.cgw.com/Press-Center/News/2011/AJA-Mini-Converters-Power-CONAN-.aspx

From Broadcast Engineering Excellence Awards Article

In the early summer of 2010, NEP Broadcasting’s Denali division was asked to build the production facilities for the new Conan O’Brien show, “Conan.” It was an exciting project to bid on, but the location for the production had not been selected beyond the West Coast. Bids were due the middle of June, the award would be announced at the end of June, and the show would debut on TBS the first week of November. That left just 120 days to design and build the new production facilities.

Fortunately, the location decision came rather quickly: the Warner Brothers Lot, Stage 15. Unfortunately, there was no space on the soundstage for the technical facilities. The solution, conceived by the show’s project manager, David Crivelli, was to build seven custom office trailers married together to create spaces for production, audio, sound effects, graphics, edit bays, music mix, video, recording and core systems. But the next big issue was that the trailers would not be manufactured, delivered and set up until after Labor Day. This left NEP less than 45 days before rehearsals began to finish the build.

Fortunately, much of the creative and technical crew had worked on O’Brien’s previous show, so issues of workflow and preferred equipment had been resolved. Crivelli made the decision to split up the various parts among three vendors: Key Code Media would handle editing and SAN storage; Paul Sandweiss at Sound Design Corporation would tackle production audio, music, sound effects and house PA; and NEP was tasked with the remainder, which consisted of production, recording, graphics, video, communications and core systems.

NEP immediately made the decision to prebuild at its systems integration facility in Pittsburgh. This would allow construction to begin before the trailers were in place. Twenty racks of equipment, consoles and the production monitor wall were assembled and wired in Pittsburgh in late August. Just after Labor Day, two 53ft tractor-trailers made the cross-country trek to Warner Brothers.

NEP began the load-in on Friday at 6 a.m., and by the end of the day Friday, all systems were in place. Only three days later, systems were wired together and ready for testing and configuration. This included pulling in all the cables to the stage via new conduits under the road between the building and trailers.

With close coordination and teamwork, the show has a new, spacious facility to rival any installation in the Los Angeles area. Once inside, you’d never know 45 days earlier it was just an empty parking lot.

To read the full article:  http://broadcastengineering.com/excellence-awards/conan-obrien-nep-broadcasting/