SVN to resume broadcasting
in spring with new studio
By Nathan Smith
When the university's Student Video Network
resumes broadcasting next semester, it will do so from a new, digitally-equipped
SVN, the only outlet at UH for students
to create and produce their own television programs, has been off the air
since the summer, when its studio and equipment were
destroyed by the flooding from Tropical
Storm Allison that ravaged much of the campus.
"We lost almost everything," said Jason
Ugorji, chair of SVN. "We lost some broadcasting digital cameras as well
as our live cameras in the flood, and we also lost our
new $15,000 computer system."
Seventy percent of SVN's equipment was
ruined by the flooding, but a great deal of the cost of replacing the lost
hardware will be covered by insurance, he said.
"Across campus, millions of dollars of
damage was done by the flood, and (the University's) insurance company
is paying $25 million of that," Ugorji said. "We're looking
at the costs of rebuilding SVN at being
between $40,000 to $50,000."
Wes Grinter, who worked as a technical
engineer on past SVN programs such as Sports Junkies and John, Wes, and
a Monkey, said the flood damage could actually
turn out to be favorable to the network.
"Most of the equipment needed to be updated
or replaced anyway," Grinter said. "I mean, we had a studio light hanging
from a broomstick for a while there. If the
flooding causes SVN to get all new gear,
I wouldn't call that a bad thing."
Ugorji concurred. "A lot of the equipment
that we had in the past was from the 1970s. We were using a lot of analog
equipment and really outdated stuff," he said.
Replacing the lost cameras and equipment
has afforded SVN the opportunity to go digital.
"Before (the flood), our stuff was about
half digital, half analog," Ugorji said. "Now everything's going to be
digital. It's going to be really, really nice."
In addition to purchasing new equipment,
SVN is also in the process of building an entirely new television studio.
"Building a new studio is fine by me,"
Ugorji said. "There are trade-offs, because our old basement studio was
huge, with a 30-foot-high ceiling, which was awesome.
We're moving into a new, smaller space
with lower ceilings, but the benefit is that we can build it any way we
want, since we're having it done from scratch."
Ugorji said he expects the new studio and
equipment to be in place and ready to go by the end of the year.
"The Copy Center moved (back) into the
UC Underground a few weeks ago, and I've been told that the whole underground
will be open by mid-November," Ugorji
said. "Since SVN is a little more complex
than your average organization, with a lot more construction, it should
take a little longer for us."
Given the time necessary for proper installation
of everything necessary to run a television studio, SVN would likely remain
off the air until December or January, Ugorji
said. However, he said, the wait would
be worth it when SVN returned.
"If I can get some of the equipment I want,
SVN's production quality should be at least three to four times better
than it used to be," he said.
The station should be broadcasting to the
majority of UH housing by next semester, said Ugorji, but possibly not
on the network's traditional Channel 6.
"Pretty much all the dorms will get SVN
except for Cambridge Oaks, because of technical issues. There's been some
discussion about moving to a different channel
other than 6, but at this point nothing
is concrete," he said.
What is concrete is that SVN will be back
and will continue to provide movies and original programming to the campus,
he said. Opportunities to get involved are open
to all students, not just those in the
"Flood or no flood," Grinter said, "SVN
is always looking for more good, student-produced shows. That's something
that will never change."