February marks the first anniversary of Gameplay HD, the HD channel dedicated to the world of videogames. Broadcasting in 1080i with Dolby Surround, Gameplay HD is the brainchild of Voom HD's VP/programming & development Mark DeAngelis and executive producer Rob Faris.
To start a new channel requires content — lots of it, and Voom HD, which carries Gameplay as part of its suite of 15 HD channels, demands at least 84 hours of new content each year. Luckily, many game publishers are now releasing HD titles, so Voom HD in NYC set up two capture labs for acquiring game footage. They also have production packages with Sony HDCAM, Panasonic VariCam and HDV gear, and prefer to post in-house using Avid NLEs to help keep overall costs down.
"We started with different categories," says Faris on launching the channel, "and went to San Francisco to gamespot.com." The CNET property is an online source for gaming info visited by millions each month. "We met with them and created a show called Gamespotting."
They produced 36 episodes of the show featuring developer diaries and game reviews.
Other HD shows followed. Art of Play features game footage with commentary. The channel produced 13 one-hour episodes highlighting four titles in each. The E3 show had plenty of news, and launch parties, for the likes of Ubisoft, were also content-generating opportunities. As was the Slamdance festival at Sundance. But where Faris sees the most opportunity is in tournaments.
Microsoft's competition for the Xbox 360 title Project Gotham Racing 3 brought top competitors from around the world to the Lamborghini factory in Italy to battle head to head. Footage was switched live and recorded to HDCAM. In post, the program was polished and interviews were added resulting in five hours of HD programming.
This month, Gamecaster's Battlefield 2142 Invitational will air in eight half-hour episodes. The series uses "Gamecaster Cybercam S2" technology to grant a 360-degree view inside the game itself.
"We are going to do a lot," says Faris of their '07 plans. "Original programming is where we are going to make bigger waves."