Ascent Media Provides Integration for New Current Network Headquarters
Oct 3, 2005 8:00 AM
Current, the new cable and satellite TV network founded by former vice president Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, launched from a newly built facility on Aug. 1. The new San Francisco facility was jointly designed by Current’s engineering and operations team and Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services, part of Ascent Media Network Services (AMNS). Systems & Technology Services handled integration and implementation on the project. Additionally, AMNS is providing comprehensive transmission services for the new channel, the first network designed by, for, and with an 18-to-34-year-old audience.
Current specializes in short-form programming (what it calls “pods”), which are usually three to seven minutes long. Content includes everything from the hottest trends in technology, fashion, music, and videogames, to pressing issues such as the environment, relationships, parenting, finance, politics, and spirituality. Roughly one-quarter of the programming is viewer-created content, or what Current refers to as VC2. This is quality video journalism from the viewers, allowing the audience to create the programming they want to watch. Viewers can also go to the online screening room at www.current.tv and vote for their favorite VC2 submissions. Through a partnership with Google, programming is anchored each half-hour by “GoogleCurrent,” which offers news without a traditional news desk by reporting on topics that people are searching for on the Web.
Transmission for Current’s programming is handled via AMNS’ Glenbrook earth station facility, located in Stamford, Conn. Services include digitally compressed uplink and fully protected satellite space segment via the Galaxy XI (C-band) satellite and terrestrial interconnect services, routed from Current’s origination facility in San Francisco to Glenbrook. Conditional access support is also provided, including authorization, program definition, affiliate support, IRD service, troubleshooting, and database management.
Although Current is presently transmitting in standard definition, Ascent Media based the network’s technical facilities around a DV format infrastructure capable of easily upgrading to HD playout. The elaborate broadcast center houses a full-scale satellite downlink antenna farm in addition to master control, ingest, production, and audio control rooms; postproduction suites; one audio finish and three video finish rooms; and an insert stage. The network relies heavily on Apple equipment, including Final Cut Pro for video, and uses Pro Tools for audio. The entire facility is server-based, only using tape for media that is acquired on tape. The San Francisco facility is digitally interconnected to a Current stage in Los Angeles that produces programming on a daily basis for the network.
“Part of the advantage of building a new network from scratch is that you get to abandon the old conventions of how to run a TV network and innovate in every way, including the technical infrastructure,” says Mark Goldman, Current’s chief operating officer. “Ascent Media’s expertise and design input were critical to building out the facility, which is the first fully digital, tapeless facility of its kind in the country.”
“Current is a perfect example of how we provide full service solutions to our clients, from concept to on-air,” says Scott Davis, president of AMNS. “While AMNS has the flexibility and global resources to offer any one of the outsourced solutions—consult, design, build, or distribute—it is becoming more and more advantageous, in this competitive market, for clients to turn to a single-source, reliable partner like Ascent Media to deliver it all.”
For more information on the installation, visit www.ascentmedia.com.