Matt Witkowski is the Managing Editor at Henninger Arlington. It's his job to make sure the video editorial department has the right tools to keep the clients happy. Before we bought the DS we became a HD DS beta site and have entered into an agreement to beta test version five which we expect later this summer. Right now, there's nothing at the price that can do the HD work we're doing on it."
Witkowski says doing business with Rob Forman at Washington Professional Systems (WPS), the region's AVID dealer, was part of the package. When we wanted a closer look, Rob Forman brought an HD DS to us and left it here with one of his people for three or four days. That level of response and service is not typical in the industry, but it is typical for WPS. While we have good relations with Avid, we go to Rob Forman at WPS when we buy Avid equipment. WPS always has fair prices and outstanding service.
Recent Henninger acquisitions include an Avid Softimage HD DS system and a standard DS for their facility at Henninger 1150, in DC. Witkowski says they've also taken delivery on four new Media Composer Meridian 10.0 systems. Witkowski says the Avid HD DS system has been busy over the last few months. "We've done six long-form documentaries on the box over the last couple of months. The first was a documentary on tigers, for an independent NY producer. We've recently finished our first HD production for National Geographic Television and have another one coming in very soon. roll out."
Working with Washington Professional Systems (WPS), the DC production facilities of America's Most Wanted recently upgraded four rooms from the walls out. According to Producer Chris Hamilton, "All four suites had to be respackled, painted, recarpeted and recabled in a two to two and a half week period. We put in three Meridian Systems and an AVID Symphony on an AVID Unity network. According to Producer Chris Hamilton we're digitizing at 2:1 on the AVID Unity. Since the installation, Hamilton has found the new networked configuration has been a definite benefit. "We got the AVID Symphony as our main finishing system, which the other three systems normally feed to. When we have breaking news, I can do different parts of the same show at the same time in the other three suites. I can post the show much more quickly, because the whole show is on one server with more people working on it at the same time. That gives us more time to make reviews and changes."
Hamilton says the narrow time window for conversion made made for a very hectic pace. "WPS had to come in and install on the fly, working through equipment troubleshooting, and delivery problems.
A video postproduction department with thirty nine AVID Composers, one AVID Symphony, one Xpress and a five-person, in-house AVID tech support staff is a serious operation. That's just part of what Director of Post Production Facilities, Dave Shapiro deals with on a regular basis at Discovery Networks in Bethesda, MD. Shapiro says Discovery Networks engineering staff do the actual installs. "All of the new systems were purchased from Washington Professional Systems (WPS), but we have a particular way we like to set the edit suites up. Part of that entails putting most of the gear in our central machine room, which keeps our edit rooms cool and quiet and makes it possible for us to share our equipment."
Even though Shapiro has a full engineering staff, he relies on WPS to assist with problem solving. "We have a minimum of one guy on beeper and on the phone from 8am to 2am Monday through Friday and one shift on the weekend. That works for the most things, but we still count on WPS for support. Shapiro also says having WPS in the mix also results in better communication and service. "I've found WPS to be an asset in our relationship with AVID. They have taken on an advocate roll for us. You hear the term value added reseller a lot. It's a generic term but, that's exactly what WPS provides."
Operations Ben Kretchmar recently contracted Washington Professional Systems to source and install two Avid Symphony NLE systems. "These are fully-loaded AVID Symphonies with color correction, color keyer and the other standard Symphony options. We're using them for production of promo spots for the National Geographic Channel." To the question, "Why WPS?" Kretchmar answers, "This was a rush project for us and a mutual effort between WPS and our engineering department. WPS delivered the systems within three weeks. They also worked with our engineering department to integrate both systems and furniture into the edit suites. We were up and running in a little over 4-5 weeks."
From a starting point two or three years ago, Maryland Public Television (MPT) has steadily evolved its postproduction department to what is now a full-scale, networked AVID facility. According to George Beneman, VP of Production Operations at MPT, the transition has been fairly painless due to MPT's close-working relationship with Washington Professional Systems' (WPS) Rob Forman and Dave Paige. "As we faced the transition to digital two or three years ago, I had decided to go with a system that could support our present productions and seamlessly migrate to digital, wide screen and possibly HD." MPT now has three Express, Two Media Composers and one Symphony. All of systems are NT-networked and all have been upgraded to the latest version of AVID software.
Those threelevels, together with 1.5 terrabytes of shared media storage with the AVID Unity, resulted in "COPE" (Create-Once-Play-Everywhere), an approach that gives us a seamless flow of material from field to air.Beneman points to WPS as being a key part of the transition. "They have been our integrator throughout the entire process and it's been fairly painless. We basically show WPS a vacant room and they come in with electronics and all of the furniture. The only thing we supply is the Sony Digital Betacam deck."
According to VP & GM Ernie Crow, Team Video International currently operates a total of 13 edit suites at two locations, 5 are AVIDs, four of those from WPS. Their latest installation includes an AVID DS and an AVID DS/HD, also from WPS. "After getting the first DS in October of last year, we entered the Beta test program for the DS/HD system and were among the first sites in the world to get the initial systems.
"WPS has a DS product line specialist on staff to help us when we need it. They've been very helpful as a local resource." Team Video International VP of Engineering Larry Tyler, says connections with WPS staff precedes WPS itself. "We go back before WPS was a company; back in the Chuck Levin's Music Center days and through their broadcast supply days with Robert Levin. We've been dealing with Rob Forman since the purchase of our first Avid system. WPS deals with a lot of different AVID systems, so they have a lot of AVID experience. We rely on them to specify, supply and check out the equipment. Then we fine tune their installation to integrate with our operations. When the chips are down WPS is always there for us. They're are a good group to work with."
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