Putting together the 2008 Democratic National Convention (Aug. 25-28) hasn’t just been about lining up speakers. It’s been about ensuring the rest of America outside of Denver’s Pepsi Center and Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium have the chance to hear the speeches.

As the official cable TV and VOD provider for the DNC Committee, Comcast Cable is front and center in Denver this week. With its content management and distribution arm, the Comcast Media Center (CMC), connected to the venues via a dedicated fiber-based link, the company was well-positioned.

Technical preparations began in January, with the establishment of a new Content Distribution Operations Center to manage and route the feeds. In addition, the CMC’s largest studio was upgraded with a variety of HD production equipment, including Sony HD cameras, HDCAM tape decks, and MVS 8000A switcher.

Most recently, however, the CMC had to increase capacity to Invesco Field; it was announced approximately six weeks ago that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) would not give his acceptance speech at the Pepsi Center.

"We had some standard definition video lines (to Invesco), but no high definition. We added the HD capacity," said Mitch Weinraub, CMC executive director, products and services. VOD, Spanish, production For the DNCC, the CMC is providing Spanish translation and streaming for all convention activities and is producing a variety of VOD content in both English and Spanish.

"VOD is one of our core businesses. We have the ability to encode VOD and distribute it overnight …. We have developed (this ability) over the last couple of years. We added the ability to do postproduction as efficiently and quickly," Weinraub said. CMC incorporated multiple advanced digital editing suites from Avid as well as Avid Unity Isis, which enhanced storage capability.

In addition to its DNCC work, the CMC will produce and distribute VOD programming for C-SPAN and provide transport services for networks like Comedy Central. The CMC’s main studios will be occupied by TV One, which will use the facilities to produce convention coverage.

As for challenges, Weinraub mentioned a couple of "scrambles" stemming from finding DNCC-approved contractors familiar with fiber. Fiber lines needed to be run from the CMC’s point of presence in the basement to the camera platform. "It was a pretty long day on Saturday," Weintraub said.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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