Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Behind the scenes of the iHDTV broadcast from New York

Tim Lance, president and Chairman of Nysernet, wrote up an excellent narrative of his experiences on the New York end of the live HD stream during yesterday's plenary. Many thanks to Tim for putting this together:

After the 32 AofA tour during Doug's opening plenary, I flew to Chicago and that evening heard comments about how stunning the video was with the sound almost as good. But an operational collocation facility is about as environmentally friendly a broadcast facility as a running shower, so the clarity represented real magic by everyone involved with the network connection and the iHDTV software, with built in escapes (as were used at the start when the interlacing got out of synch. Internet2 folks had worked on the sound and video transmission the week leading up to the live tour, with conversations between them and the TV crew, while I worked on what should be said with help from many.

The TV crew had an equally daunting task, masking the roar of air conditioning and equipment, figuring our how to light the path of the tour (not creating terrible shadowing or hot spots). We were in the colo space early on December 5 as cage walls came down and we did dry runs for sound and video, plus two dress rehearsals, and made eight or nine different placements and settings of lights before the crew was satisfied. The moving picture required manipulating a very large and heavy steady-cam, anchored to a flack-vest like contraption on the cameraman who backed down aisles almost too narrow for all the gear. The wide angle lens made the aisles seem wider than they were.

This was a really gutsy move by Internet2. They started planning this live demo just a week or two before the Member Meeting, and before the first segment of the network was up. Then they decided to do the first test of the power of the new network live and in public with a tour the most inhospitable (from a TV perspective) environment around. Perhaps it's not surprising that it all came off so well, given all the talented people working on it, but it surely demonstrated that we've entered a new era of network capabilities.