Company Provides Elaborate Video and Show Control Package
Designed To Streamline The Taping Of Fifty Shows Over Eighteen Days

NEW YORK -- April 4, 2001

Scharff Weisberg recently supplied an elaborate media package and designed a show control system for VH1's newest game show, "Name That Video". In addition to providing numerous state-of-the-art NEC Technologies, Inc. 50-inch plasma display panels and large venue projectors, and DoReMi video storage drives, the company designed a show control system to streamline the production process by standardizing the way on-demand video material is recorded before taping and accessed during production.

Studio contestants put their music video knowledge to the ultimate challenge when the new VH1 series "Name That Video" - updating one of television history's most memorable game shows, "Name That Tune" - premiered on the network on Monday, March 12, 2001. The daily series of fast-paced games that test players' skills in identifying videos, their artists and lyrics, "Name That Video" is a stylish, high-tech and entertaining game show designed to challenge contestants' music video knowledge, along with their general music expertise. The series incorporates state-of-the-art video and graphics technology with fast-paced games such as Say It Again, Finish the Phrase, and Bid-A-Vid (modeled on the Bid-A-Note signature round from the original "Name That Tune"), drawing upon music videos from the 1980s to today's current hits.

"The interesting aspect of preparing for this project was the fact that the producers wanted to record the 50 programs in an ambitiously short period. Combine that with the fact that each program makes use of over an hour of video, all of which has to be instantly accessible, and we had quite a logistical challenge," commented Scharff Weisberg's Vice President of Staging, Michael Halper. "Working in conjunction with our show control department, we were able to devise a system utilizing 21 removable hard drives that allowed the producers to tape one program, while co-producers, Broadway Video, were creating and recording content for the next. The idea was to record the content of each show in a prescribed manner so as to allow for automated access within any episode, regardless of the specific content."

The total package of equipment supplied by Scharff Weisberg includes nine DoReMi Hard Disc Recorders with 21 removable, 18 gigabyte hard drives, a Dataton Control System, four NEC Technologies NightHawk™ Series MultiSync XT5000™ High Light Output projectors with serial digital input (SDI), five (four and a backup) PlasmaSync 50PD1 public display plasma monitors and two DaLite DA-Plex Rigid Screens (9x12 & 9x14).

Scharff Weisberg selected visual display products from NEC Technologies for the VH1 set for a number of reasons. First, they support serial digital which was required within Sony Music Studios' all SDI production environment. Second, NEC's plasma display panels are among the best in the business, with color temperature controls critical for any television studio application. And finally, the menu set up options for the plasma display panels accommodate the vertically oriented screens used in the show.

The basic set up of the show calls for video and stills from four of the hard drives to be fed to four of the plasma panels and imagery from the two other drives to go to the Sony facility's SDI switcher which plays into four projectors. The plasma panels are set up to block the video projection screen. Music videos and other clues play on the plasma panels and contestants make decisions based on it. The plasmas then fly out to reveal additional video clips on the rear projection screens.

"Every morning, six fresh hard drives arrive to the set with four shows worth of material," continued Halper. "While VH1 shoots four shows at the studio, the Broadway Video crew is laying off four more to a second set of drives and, time permitting, a third set to allow us a buffer. Since each show follows a set format, we were able to automate the process fairly extensively. We designated time code locations for each segment of the show to appear on the disk, regardless of episode. Using Dataton, we were able to create an elaborate edit decision list that allows a programmer to run any show any way. We always do the same commands to the same time code and Dataton is programmed to accommodate all the possibilities resulting from specific contestant responses. The content changes four times a day, but the time code address per command is always the same."

Lars Pedersen was senior technical consultant for the show control design and programming. "It became quite clear early on that we would need to take a somewhat different approach than we normally do with regard to content access management. We decided, for flexibility purposes, to take advantage of the clip, playlist, and sequence features provided by the DoReMi hard disk recorder/players. Even so, we still had to find an efficient method of defining, modifying, and editing over 700 different clips. This was ultimately accomplished by implementing a simple yet elegant solution. We used a software utility called InstantQ put out by David Markie of Markie Enterprises, David's product and his technical support were key elements to the success of the design. To facilitate clip playback, programmers Paul Vershbow and John Kiphardt created several amazing user graphical interfaces in Dataton for each round in order to select any of the myriad possibilities as the game is played. It's an awesomely complex matrix of commands that they've boiled down to series of standardized button clicks. The programmer must be on the set every day and follow the game very closely in order to play each clip as randomly selected by the contestants."

The staging division of Scharff Weisberg Inc. specializes in video wall design, video projection, image magnification, show control, computer data display and sound. The show control division of Scharff Weisberg provides a full range of support for show control including sales, rentals, programming, installation, design and engineering. Scharff Weisberg is located at 599 Eleventh Avenue, New York, NY 10036. For more information about the company's staging division, call 212-582-2345.

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