TCTV studio joins the world of high def

It’s never easy to keep up with technology.

But during the past few months, Thurston Community Television has gone from vintage 1995 video equipment to robotic cameras and a high tech set-up that’s able to produce high definition programs.

“It was like going from horse and buggy to the space shuttle,” says Deborah Vinsel, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer.

TCTV is holding an open house and grand reopening to celebrate its extreme makeover from 1p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at its studio on Yauger Way. The public event will feature studio tours, door prizes and activities such as do-it-yourself voice-over recordings and animation projects.

TCTV’s capital fund paid for the $320,000 update using fees from cable subscribers in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County, Vinsel said.

TCTV is a membership-based organization, and its programming can be viewed on public access channels on Comcast cable system in Thurston County. During 2013, it aired more than 20,000 hours of programming on its four channels; about 65 percent of its programming is produced locally at the TCTV studio or with its equipment, Vinsel said.

The biggest upgrades at the studio are the new switcher, which allows video signals to move from one source to another, and the character generator, which is used for graphics, Vinsel said.

“Theoretically, this entire room could be operated by one or two people,” she said. The old technology usually required production crews of five or more people, she added.

The studio has four new cameras, two of which are robotic. There’s also a teleprompter, which runs a script in front of a camera’s lens, and a new voice-over studio.

“They came up with technology that has a nice crisp image, and good clean audio,” said Glen Anderson, who hosts and produces a monthly series for Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation. “...We’re just delighted that TCTV is such a great resource for our community.”

In addition to all of the high tech upgrades, which required “miles of cable and wires” for installation, new flooring and paint were added throughout TCTV’s 5,000-square-foot facility, Vinsel said.

And even though TCTV’s programs will now be filmed and edited in high definition , it might be a while before they can be viewed in high definition, at least on the television. Right now, the nonprofit’s channels are on Comcast’s regular channels.

“That’s the way the cable franchise is currently written,” Vinsel said.

Changing to high definition channels will take a change in the contract that Comcast has with Thurston County and the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, she said. However, TCTV users will still be able to post their work in high definition on the internet, Vinsel said.