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By Eric Ahlberg

The country’s first High Definition (HD) television studio will put Radio and Television Arts students at an advantage when they graduate, faculty members say.

One of the four studios in the Rogers Communication Centre has been completely upgraded for HD production; it now features HD cameras, screens and new technical control equipment. It’s currently the first and only HD setup in a Canadian academic setting.

Many industry studios have not yet implemented the technology. RTA students and grad students entering the pending MA in Media Production program will have use of the studio. The cutting-edge technology’s presence on campus means that graduating students will be experienced with the newest equipment and techniques, Radio and Television Arts chair David Tucker said, adding that experience with HD technology will make RTA grads more employable.

“Students will be able to train the trainers by the time they leave,” he said. High Definition TV’s 16:9 screen ratio offers a wider and more natural field of vision than the 4:3 ratio of a conventional television. The image is also sharper and more detailed than a regular TV image.

It’s more like the images typical of a cinematic release than of TV shows of old, Tucker said. “(HD technology) is the closest TV has got to feature film,” he said. The studio upgrade is the result of university fundraising and help from industry partners.

The department hopes to implement High Definition technology in all of its studios, keeping it in line with broadcasting standards around the world. The U.S.’s Federal Communications Commission has already mandated that all broadcasters must gradually switch to HD production by the end of the decade. Canadian broadcasters aren’t yet required to make the switch, but sports broadcasts on CBC and TSN are already using the technology.

Canadian standards should eventually match American ones, Tucker said. Studio manager Dan Greenwood agreed, adding that he expects the technology to become prevalent throughout the industry. “This is not a fad,” he said. “(High definition) is the future.”

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