CFCF, RDS to get studio upgrades

CFCF's studio, from left: sports, news, interviews and weather

Studios for CFCF-12 and RDS at 1205 Papineau Ave. are going to change over the next year.

Staff of both networks in the building were informed Monday of a capital spending plan approved by CTVglobemedia. That plan will see CFCF’s news studio move to what is now office space in the southwest corner of the building, after which RDS will setup two new studios where CFCF’s newscast and RDS’s Antichambre is shot now.

The move will be a welcome change for both networks. Outside of Canadiens games and Antichambre, RDS’s studios look dull and cramped (even in my tiny TV set). CFCF, meanwhile, consists of an anchor desk, a smaller sports anchor desk, a table and two chairs for interviews, and a green screen wall for weather. It’s also beginning to show its age.

Aside from a new look, CFCF’s new studio will have “storefront” exposure, which means people walking by on the street should get a chance to peek inside and see it in action. It will also be “HD-ready.”

But those looking forward to a high-definition newscast shouldn’t hold your breath. The station’s equipment will still need to be upgraded, and that’s not in the cards yet.

“Our new facilities will be ‘HD-ready’, so when the time comes to convert the rest of the shop (cameras, editing, etc), the studio will already be wired and ready,” said news director Jed Kahane. “But we don’t have a date yet for the HD conversion of our news.”

When I visited CFCF in September and asked him about a move to HD, Kahane said there wasn’t anything in the near future, since frankly there isn’t any serious competitive pressure from either CBC or Global to force the station to make such an expensive superficial change. (Kahane has since clarified that the station does want to move to HD as soon as it can, but that “other markets in the country, who don’t enjoy our success, may come first because they need it even more than we do.”)

The full memo to staff is below:

Memorandum

To: All personnel, CTV Montreal and RDS

From: Donald Bastien and Gerry Frappier

Date: November 8, 2010

Subject: Big changes are coming to CTV and RDS in Montreal

CTVglobemedia has approved a very extensive and comprehensive capital spending plan that will lead to important changes in the facilities of CTV and RDS in Montreal.

This significant investment is a vote of confidence and major step toward improving our on-air products. It will strengthen our ability to compete and maintain our leadership in an increasingly deregulated and more competitive industry landscape.

After careful analysis and review of the needs of both CTV and RDS, the joint CTV/RDS working group has decided on the following changes:

The CTV News Studio will move to the southwest ground floor corner of the building, where CTV National and Globe & Mail Sales are currently located. This new space is slightly larger than the current CTV Studio, and will be completely rebuilt to house a brand new, multifaceted, HD-ready set. This location will offer “storefront” exposure with a totally refreshed design and look.

RDS will move into the existing CTV studio facilities on the ground floor, where multiple programs will share the space with a studio look RDS has until now lacked the facilities to achieve. Currently, only about half the actual floor space in this studio is being used by CTV for its on-air look (the other half is occupied by CTV CCU and l’Antichambre). RDS, with its upcoming projects, will maximize the potential of this area by creating two separate and independent studios in the existing space. This move will also allow the RDS newsroom to expand and upgrade its own studio facilities on the third floor for the benefit of both Sports 30 and its RIS network .

In short, this project will allow CTV to acquire a brand new HD-ready set and a brand new look in a very short time frame: The expected launch date is Fall 2011. And as a result, RDS will be able to execute its own strategic plan, using a space that CTV does not exploit to its full potential.

We have put in place a multi-functional team to carry out this complex project. There will be separate working groups for CTV and RDS, working individually on their respective projects, and together as required.

Daniel Bienvenue, who is currently a member of both the CTV and RDS management teams, will lead overall project, reporting to Gerry Frappier and Don Bastien.

Dave Maynard, Operations Manager for CTV and Joanne Provost, Director of Finance and Administration for RDS, will play lead roles.

Both teams will report to Don Bastien on matters pertaining to redeployment of office space or that affect other building leaseholders.

In the coming days, you’ll be seeing some new faces walking the halls of CTV and RDS. Please welcome them and know that they are there to help take both networks to the next level in their development. They will of course aim to minimize the disruption to our daily operations.

We are excited by this important investment in our collective future, and by the opportunities it presents. And we are confident that our respective businesses and their employees will be well served and supported through this period of transition.

We will keep you updated as plans develop and work proceeds.

Thank you in advance for your support, your cooperation, and your continued dedication to the top-rated programming of both CTV and RDS.

Sincerely,

Don Bastien and Gerry Frappier

10 thoughts on “CFCF, RDS to get studio upgrades

  1. Jimmy Jack

    I hope CFCF and Global never spend the money on HD. I enjoy US channels on Videotron in HD without all the simsub butchering.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I hope CFCF and Global never spend the money on HD. I enjoy US channels on Videotron in HD without all the simsub butchering.

      When I say they’re not yet in HD, I’m referring specifically to the newscasts. CFCF already has HD programming, and both CFCF and CKMI will be broadcasting in HD by August 2011. Simsub, if it isn’t already a reality in HD, will be by then.

      Reply
      1. AlexH

        It sort of makes you wonder… they will turn on the HD trasmitter (at the last possible moment, I am sure), and they will broadcast a nice square image in the middle of it for the news. It’s absolutely amazing that a company like BCE can drag in a billion dollars of profits but cannot find it in their budgets to properly do a job, and instead will do it twice, setting the studio and equipment up in SD, and then turning around and converting it all to HD sometime in the future.

        I guess they can spare a few of million to make the difference up.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          instead will do it twice, setting the studio and equipment up in SD, and then turning around and converting it all to HD sometime in the future.

          As far as I know, there’s nothing that’s going to be done twice here. The studio will be setup for HD with their existing SD equipment and then upgraded later. They’re not going to bring in new equipment just to throw it away when they move to HD.

          Reply
          1. AlexH

            It just doesn’t make sense. The work is scheduled over the next year, and the HD changeover is in 9.5 months. Why not just cough up the few extra dollars (and in the scheme of things for BCE it is a few extra dollars) and move the news and all the other production stuff in the new studio to HD to match up with the HD launch? Heck, why isn’t the CRTC mandating it? CTV (and everyone else for that matter) have dragged their butts on this, pushing the changeover date, delaying, etc… all while insisting that “local TV matters” (notice that the website localtvmatters.ca now just redirects to CTV’s front page… I guess it doesn’t matter so much now).

            Building a new studio, switching to HD, but not switching the studio to HD seems like an incredibly stupid move.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              The work is scheduled over the next year, and the HD changeover is in 9.5 months. Why not just cough up the few extra dollars (and in the scheme of things for BCE it is a few extra dollars) and move the news and all the other production stuff in the new studio to HD to match up with the HD launch?

              It’s very expensive to switch a news organization to high definition. Not only do they have to change the studio cameras (which are incredibly expensive) and replace just about all of their editing and switching equipment, but they need to replace all their portable cameras too so the reports are in HD. And like I said, there simply isn’t enough competitive pressure for CTV to be in a rush to do it.

              Heck, why isn’t the CRTC mandating it?

              Like in the United States, the Canadian government is mandating a switch to digital broadcast. Neither has mandated a switch to high definition, though most stations choose to go HD if they’ve already gone through the effort to switch to digital.

              Building a new studio, switching to HD, but not switching the studio to HD seems like an incredibly stupid move.

              I’m not sure what “switching the studio to HD” means, but the studio is being built with a switch to HD in mind. Once they get new equipment, they will just be able to connect it.

              Reply
          2. AlexH

            “switching the studio to HD” would mean building the sets in consequence of being seen in HD, meaning they have to be to a pretty high quality otherwise people will see the poor construction clearly. It also means building sets and layouts with the understanding of using a camera in an HD style 16X9 sort of frame size, rather than the SD square. It means running all the cables you need to run to move the signal from A to B with appropriate cable, as well as setting up all the edit booths and so on as “HD ready / digital ready”, even if you don’t put the equipment in. Remember, there are the two pressures, 1 of the new broadcast signal (which will be in HD by the time this place is open), as well as the need for appropriate bandwidth to control all future HD signals from Toronto. Studio cameras are expensive, but are needed not only for the news, but for whatever else might be produced there. Studio cameras run about $100k each, plus pieces, accessories.. call it 200k each. Overall, they are talking at best a few million bucks. Again, comparing those costs to BVE netting a BILLION dollars last year, well…

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              “switching the studio to HD” would mean building the sets in consequence of being seen in HD

              I think that’s exactly what they’re planning.

              Reply
  2. Pingback: CFCF looks at itself – Fagstein

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