WRAL’s Craigie Speaks on HD-Conversion for NAB Panel

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WRAL’s Craigie Speaks on HD-Conversion for NAB Panel
Digital Conversion is All About Team Work

Leesa Moore Craigie
WRAL-TV Leesa Moore Craigie recently spoke on an NAB panel about WRAL-TV’s conversion to HD.

WRAL-TV is a national leader in the conversion to digital, debuted its first all-digital newscast in 2001, years ahead of most of the competition.   WRAL-TV Director of News Operations & Special Projects Leesa Moore Craigie recently spoke on a panel at NAB New York.

Craigie participated on the “Preparing for the HD Conversion:  Deadline 2009” panel for the RTNDA’s News and Technology Summit on Wednesday, October 25, 2006.

“I was honored to be a part of the discussion and so proud to be representing WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting,” said Craigie. “We are highly revered in the broadcast industry as pioneers in the conversion to high-definition television.”

Craigie said that part of her role was to dispel some of the myths surrounding HD in news gathering and to offset any fears of conversion in practical application. 

She joined panelists Dave Sirak, News Operations Manager at WFTV-TV in Orlando, FL, and Will Workman, General Manager of VOOM HD News.  WFTV was the first station in Orlando, and the first in Florida, to go HD.  HD News provides cycling newcasts for VOOM HD Network.

The three offered practical advice on how stations can convert their news operations from standard definition to high definition, including giving tips on everything from equipment to lighting to makeup to staff training.

“After the discussion, several attendees came up and thanked me on behalf of WRAL for all we’ve done to advance the technology,” said Craigie. 

“I think the video [produced by Steve Elizondo] on our HD product was worth a thousand words…it was proof positive how the technology enhances the product and that the end more than justifies the means.”

During the presentation, Craigie told the group, “At WRAL, we went into the project knowing we’d have everything new – new studio, new control room, new camera.  Our switcher had serial number 000001, so we worked through a lot of the bugs with this gear.  We saw it at NAB, then installed it in our control room six months later.  We knew we’d be waiting for the technology to catch up with us, but we still had to do news every day.”

WRAL-TV converted to HD when HD sets were not commonly available on the market.  The early start has give WRAL more HD experience than any other broadcaster in the country.

Craigie and Sirak both talked about how the conversion to HD took the work of all their station’s staff.  “… a project like this brings the whole station together,” said Sirak.  “You have a deadline and you have to do it together.”

“It’s been a collaborative effort,” Craigie agreed.

But Craigie says despite all the technological changes that WRAL’s dedication to excellence in news is still paramount.  “The storytelling doesn’t change,” she said.  “As much as WRAL is branded ‘coverage you can count on’, HD has really become a brand for them.  The viewers don’t know 1080i or all the technology, but they do know good pictures and story-telling, and that’s what’s most important.”

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Steve Elizondo for the capcom video.

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