Some of you have been waiting for this for years, cursing, complaining, being sarcastic or otherwise criticizing as the months go by. On Monday, CTV Montreal’s newscasts finally switch to high definition.
The station has spent the past few months converting the last piece of its big puzzle, the control room, to high definition. In fact, the transition has required the creation of a second control room as the first one has continued operating. Studio cameras, field cameras and editing suites have been in HD for quite some time, requiring an awkward HD-to-SD conversion, which goes back to HD for air.
The final switches will happen over the weekend, which means the weekend newscasts will move to the newsroom, the same place they were done from in the summer of 2011 when the station rebuilt its studios.
Among the changes happening over the weekend, a wall being moved about two feet to make room for a wider (16:9) chroma key wall used for weather.
Monday’s noon newscast will be the first in HD.
CTV Montreal has been slower than its competitors to make the transition. Publicly and privately, people in charge have admitted that there’s little competitive pressure to make the very expensive switch. Even with black bars beside a squarish image, CTV Montreal far outdoes competing newscasts from CBC and Global in the ratings.
Montreal is about the middle of the pack for CTV in the transition in major markets. Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver have already switched.
New control room means five retirements
The new control room will be run by OverDrive, an automated control room system by Canadian company Ross Video. The new automation will reduce the number of people needed in the control room, though CTV Montreal is keeping a lot of control in human hands.
Five jobs will be lost when the transition to the automated system is complete. All five, says Operations Manager Dave Maynard, are voluntary retirees. They include CTV Montreal union local president Doug Kelly.
“To get that point took a helluva lot of work, but the end result is that we have a positive, even enthusiastic work environment that welcomes this automation system,” Maynard said.
The automation system will be phased in, starting with the late-night newscast. A week later, the noon newscast will be produced with OverDrive. The 6pm newscast will switch to the automation system on June 22.
The transition will be of personal significance for Maynard. He won’t be directing under the OverDrive system, and is giving up his director’s seat in the control room in order to focus full-time on his job as operations manager for the station. His last newscast as a director will be at 6pm on June 21.
Don’t worry. He still has her email address.