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VegasHD offers HD broadcast services targeted at the out of town broadcaster
Broadcasters can now fly their talent in and leave the gas guzzling mobile unit at home By John Virata

A broadcast production and digital fiber services company has opened in Las Vegas to give out of town broadcasters the capability to take advantage of local HD and broacsat services without the expense of driving in their own broadcast trucks. Called VegasHD and started by industry veterans Gordon Wason, Jim Rutledge and Robin Leach, the company hopes that its offerings will afford out of town broadcasters a cost effective solution to getting their stories out of Las Vegas. VegasHD president Gordon Wason talks the strategy and facilities available.

DMN: You went with Sony HD camcorders and decks for the HD MVP mobile unit. Is the standalone facility in Trader Vic's also Sony equipped?
Gordon Wason: The VegasHD business model allows for full flexibility in Las Vegas production. Unlike NY or LA, when productions are in Las Vegas they normally want to use one or more organic locations to show off the spectacular Las Vegas backdrops. To that end, we designed our insert stage at Trader Vic s to utilize all the assets that are present in the mobile VegasHD unit. This flexibility will be true of any of our future insert stages throughout Las Vegas.
VegasHD is comprised of veterans from the television and cable television production industry. The principals of the company have a 15-year relationship with Sony, and based on past experience they decided that Sony products would be the best choice for the type of equipment required and its intended use.

DMN: You mentioned that broadcasters from all over drive their satellite trucks into Las Vegas to broadcast in High Definition. What does VegasHD offer those broadcasters who would just as well drive into Las Vegas?
GW: When it comes to television production, Las Vegas offers producers many new obstacles in a setting that is unusual to work in. Hundred-acre mega-casinos make truck parking tricky, mile-long cable runs are commonplace, and tall casino towers along a narrow corridor block many of the common satellites. Given all these headaches it would be rare to find a producer who would "just as well" drive to Las Vegas!

Robin Leach and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman inside the VegasHD mobile production vehicle.

In addition digital fiber broadcast transmission is undisputedly the most reliable, highest quality method of signal transmission available today. VegasHD offers plug and play capabilities to producers looking to capture anything Vegas.

DMN: Does this mean the broadcasters can fly in their talent and cameramen rather than drive their trucks in to shoot in HD? 
GW: Exactly.

DMN: Is there a big advantage to that?
GW: Yes, VegasHD services will be useful for both for large scale Las Vegas productions " such as awards shows and talk shows on-location from Las Vegas " as well as events that require ENG news live shots, such as the upcoming OJ trial or the opening of a new casino.
There is a tremendous logistical and cost advantage in offering these services from a Las Vegas-based company. Plus the principals of VegasHD enjoy long standing relationships with broadcasters, fostering the confidence and trust that the production will be done right " no small issue when a major network is "taking the show on the road."

DMN: How does the VegasHD model for HD field production differ from some of the other models that broadcasters have been accustomed to?
GW: There is no difference. It was designed so anyone can come in and produce in the way they are accustomed. VHD can configure its Mobile Video Production Unit to any setup they would like. The one difference is quality. The switcher cameras and decks are the best on the market currently and our client broadcast products will benefit from that.

DMN: How does the digital fiber network come in to play? How many facilities are accessible in Las Vegas via the network?
GW: This is the first and only digital fiber network in Las Vegas. It allows for "plug and play" video broadcast at some of the most spectacular locations throughout Las Vegas. Broadcasters can now take a feed from Las Vegas completely free of worrying where the production truck will park or how long the cable-run will be across the casino floor. For live-shots on news stories it will add a dimension of convenience to get stories of Las Vegas, and for large-scale productions it means easy fiber transmission back to the main studio. Currently we have announced one insert stage location on the Las Vegas Strip at the Trader Vic s restaurant. This location allows for unobstructed 180-degree views of the Las Vegas Strip from a 2,400 sq ft patio, as well as an interior location on the third floor shooting "TRL-style" through floor-to-ceiling windows.  Other locations that offer a sky-line view of the Las Vegas Strip and other exciting neon-locations will be announced shortly.

DMN: How did you come about with the idea to offer a mobile HD solution for out of town broadcasters to take advantage of?
GW: The VegasHD team is a unique hybrid. We have offices in Las Vegas, New York and Washington DC.  Both Las Vegas and the television industry have unique characteristics, and our team bridges both of these worlds. The idea was sparked by the fact that Las Vegas was a market that is very attractive to television producers, but lacked any digital fiber Point-of-Presence.

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at [email protected]

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