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The Weather Channel® Puts Two Snell & Wilcox Kahuna Multiformat Production Switchers at Heart of HD Upgrade
Posted on Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The Weather Channel® Puts Two Snell & Wilcox Kahuna Multiformat Production Switchers at Heart of $60 Million HD Upgrade

Switchers Enable Smooth Transition From SD to HD Production, Provide Powerful Long-Term Performance in Support of New HD Production Studio


HAMPSHIRE, U.K. — June 3, 2008 — The Weather Channel® has put two Snell & Wilcox Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switchers at the heart of its $60 million HD upgrade, using the switchers' format flexibility to support a smooth transition to HD broadcasting and a whole new look for programming on the 24/7 weather information network. Installed in two newly retrofitted HD production control rooms, two Kahuna systems simplify handling of SD and HD sources and graphics as the network moves toward completion of a new HD production studio, which went live on June 2, 2008. The first live content aired through the HD studio was switched by a Kahuna, which will serve as the main HD production switcher for all of The Weather Channel's fully produced shows.

"The Kahuna switcher is essential to our HD rollout, providing powerful switching capabilities in SD and, going forward, offering the robust performance we require for our shift toward full HD production," said Michael Smereski, chief engineer at The Weather Channel. "At The Weather Channel, we operate much like a news operation. When weather stories break, we need to be able to accept any type of on-location video we receive. The internal conversion capability of the Kahuna allows us, on a per-input basis, to determine signal format on-the-fly and to deal with any incoming feed effectively."

The Weather Channel installed Kahuna production switchers as part of a major overhaul of the network's infrastructure and production facilities to enable HD production and revolutionize the way weather is presented on TV. The project involved construction of the new HD studio adjoining The Weather Channel's existing building and also included the upgrade of equipment within the older facility. The network's two main production control rooms were alternately upgraded to HD with the deployment of a Kahuna system. In operation since January, the two Kahuna systems enable the network to provide a high-quality SD feed and to get HD-capable control rooms to air prior to the network's HD studio launch.

"In addition to providing format flexibility, the Kahuna gives our operators the tools they need to produce increasingly complex shows in a highly dynamic environment," added Smereski. "Our production crews gravitated to the Kahuna very quickly and were able to dive into production without any limitations. They grew comfortable with the Kahuna in a very short time — getting familiar with the switcher and setting up show presets quickly, despite many other demands on the control room."

"The Weather Channel is one of the most unique networks in this industry, having pioneered a niche and excelled in bringing viewers the drama of weather news worldwide," said Joe Zaller, vice president of corporate development at Snell & Wilcox. "Using the Kahuna to make a smooth, controlled migration to HD, The Weather Channel is raising the bar for weather coverage, delivering visually engaging programming with striking images and informative graphics — all in the high-impact realm of HD."

About Kahuna:
Kahuna from Snell & Wilcox is the world's first and only true multiformat SD/HD production switcher. Thanks to a Snell & Wilcox technology called FormatFusion, Kahuna enables simultaneous SD and HD operations in the same mainframe and on the same control panel. This vastly simplifies the HDTV transition for broadcasters by eliminating the need for external HDTV up/down/crossconverters in the live production environment, as well as the cost and the signal path delay associated with these products. Kahuna has the smallest size mainframe, lowest weight, and lowest power consumption when compared with other large switchers, and it has been integrated with dozens of third-party products including routers, servers, automation systems, and controllers.