Video Production Upgrade at Carver Arena, Part 2Contributing Editor Bennett Liles talks with Frank Blain, owner of Pro Video Productions, about the Broadcast Pix 3016 and video product for Carver Arena. 12/13/2011 9:35 AM Eastern
Video Production Upgrade at Carver Arena, Part 2
Dec 13, 2011 2:35 PM
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A complete video production upgrade at the Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill., had to be done in just one week, and the system has been up and running for hockey and basketball. Frank Blain, owner of Pro Video Productions, is going to tell us about how the Broadcast Pix Slate 3016, the cameras and the scoreboard work, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.
Frank, thanks for being back for part 2 on the SVC Podcast from the Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill., and a big video upgrade there where everything kind of went in all at once. New scoreboard, Broadcast Pix Slate 3016 live video production system, and we were talking in part 1 about all of that going in at the same time and about the long fiber-optic run you have to the scoreboard. One thing we didn’t get too much into is how things actually happen during a game. You obviously have a lot of instant replays, so how do you handle that during a game?
Well, the replay, the nice thing is the fact that we have at least two sponsorships to run. Every time we run a replay, for our hockey team, we run, “The goal is sponsored by,” and, “The replay is sponsored by,” and as the director switcher, it’s nice that I can, with the Fluent Macro, push one button, and then I can turn and talk to the replay person to guide them through what I really want out of the replay. If they’re going on the three-play replay, I may tell them which angle I thought was the best going in—so which camera to start the replay with. The switcher, in the meantime, is doing all my sponsorship work for me since, like one button, it does its thing, so I really concentrate upon the actual replay at that point in time. The replay sponsorship’s done, and I hit the fader bar and it dissolves to the replay, and I yell, “Roll it.” And then at the end of it, I hit home and my switcher goes to my live camera 1 and puts in my fox box and so scores back into the Internet and we’re all ready to go. We’re back in action. So I punched a whopping two buttons and pulled a fader once, and that’s all I did for the replay. [Timestamp: 2:34]
Well, that makes you look good.
Yeah, it’s nice. I have all the ESPN-style animated wipes while it’s all happening in the background as I’m basically relaxing. So it kind of made work a lot easier to the olden days when you would have a separate server and you would have to be clicking through the server and maybe selecting keys and pushing six buttons on a switcher to get stuff to happen, and here I’m pushing one and that runs the animations I’m running and presets the replay. So all I have to do is hit the one button and pull the fader bar to go to the replay. [Timestamp: 3:09]
And of course the cameras make a big difference and the camera operators on sports events where you’ve really got to keep up with things. What kind of cameras did you get on this?
We have three Sony HXC 100Ks. They are triax cameras [that are] very nice, and we have one Sony—really it’s just basically a security camera, which is a remote control camera. But it’s HD, has a 21X lens on it, so it’s pretty nice, and that’s on the scoreboard itself; and we talked about that in the first installment where it makes the fantastic crowd camera. [Timestamp: 3:44]
And the Sony cameras are easy on the operators, too.
Yeah, well, the fact that they’re triax, so we have nice remote controls for them, and the shader in the control room is controlling the camera. Of course it’s intercom and all is all included with this camera head so it’s a nice simple system. We usually for, like, basketball have two handheld cameras. They’re a very nice handheld cam, well-balanced and lightweight. [Timestamp: 4:13]
So how do you do audio on the games? What kinds of sources do you have for that?
Well, most of our audio sources, or actually our only real audio source is the Broadcast Pix switcher. Out of its two clip stores, it’s playing all of our clips, and then we have our really basic Allen & Heath Zed 10 soundboard. In the arena itself, we have our sound person who is actually writing the major levels and playing music and taking care of the wireless mics and all that sort of stuff. That’s a separate person and that’s a separate operation in our facility. [Timestamp: 4:50]
And you’ve got the Fluent Watch Folders as a feature on the Slate 3016. How do you use that?
Well, the Watch Folders are very, very handy in the Broadcast Pix. We actually have a couple animations that are built during the game, for our hockey games, where we do, I guess, the attendants and that sort of thing where it’s an animation we build off line and pop it into the Watch Folder in the middle of the game, as time permits, and boom, it’s in and it’s right in their sequence and ready to go when it’s ready. A pretty cool deal. [Timestamp: 5:25]
Yeah, really. For that stuff where you’ve got to keep up with a lot of fast action, you just can’t make it too easy to do.
No, and the Watch Folders really do help because pregame, we’re dropping in 20 new clips for a hockey game and then in the middle of the game there’s usually a couple of new ones that are dropped in the game. So to be able to do that as easily as we can and the clips show up in the same place in the server window on the touchpanel so that you can find it easily when it’s ready to go—you don’t have to go hunting. [Timestamp: 5:57]
How do you feed the Daktronics screens from the Slate 3016?
All the control devices for the Daktronics are in our control room. It’s about a 2ft. cable run SDI from the Broadcast Pix switcher to the Daktronic main control unit, and the Daktronic information’s all sent via fiber optic to the videoboard itself; so it’s all done directly in the control room. [Timestamp: 6:20]
Video Production Upgrade at Carver Arena, Part 2
Dec 13, 2011 2:35 PM
And I saw a picture of the control room. You seem to have a fairly small and compact video monitoring situation where you have just what you need and nothing you don’t need.
Well, yeah, the multiview system in the Broadcast Pix Slate is really, really handy. You can customize it; I can have it different for every show I do. If I’m not using all the cameras or all the sources on the show, you don’t have to see it on the monitor. I can just ignore that, making everything else bigger and easier and you can arrange it, like for me, I’m real into what I have on my servers, so I have those two monitors more close to my eye line; so I can move the multiview portion of the clips right straight ahead. And that’s nice that you can just have that right in front of you and then your cameras are well-located too, and of course it has the tally system built-in. If you’re going separate items on all that, that’s very expensive—just to have tally lights on you monitors. [Timestamp: 7:21]
Yeah, and on the installation. I don’t think you could have gotten all of that installed within the quick timeframe either.
Oh, no, there’s no way to build a control room out in a week and to have tally lights on all your monitors and well-arranged monitors, and even if you buy a multiview system, you’re not going to be able to do that. Since it’s all included, it’s all one machine and kind of stockish, it’s really handy. [Timestamp: 7:45]
Describe for me how you build and play macros on the Slate 3016.
Well, there are several different ways. You can pretty much, like you might with a conventional switcher, where you just basically make an EMEM of where you are. I have it set up, I save it, and then you basically build what is in effect a macro. And the other one is through a macro editor where, again, you pretty much tell the machine to follow you in a nutshell; it just follows what you’re doing and then you can go back in and edit it. If it took you, say, three seconds to set up an effect and you want that to happen in five frames, you just go in and change it to five frames in the editor. So it’s pretty straightforward, and you can change your sources if you made a mistake. And then after you jump down the road, if you’re just changing one and you’ve got new graphics, you can just change the graphics out in the editor. It’s pretty straightforward and easy, and if you’re like me, you like to even draw the little pics—there’s a little program that you can actually draw images for your pics—and I make little home buttons and I draw a little house and I draw “RR” for replay and make little arrows on it. [Timestamp: 8:58]
Sounds like the ultimate in customization.
Yeah, it’s neat, and it makes it very easy to customize. As you scan across the machine, it’s a lot more intuitive looking than it might be if it was a stock scanner, EMEM, redial—EMEM 1, EMEM 100, 104. This system is much more customizable, so therefore it’s easier to see and easier to use. [Timestamp: 9:22]
So how do you guys communicate during the production? What kind of intercom situation do you have?
Our building is a Clearcom building, and we do a lot of touring shows and those mostly tend to be Clearcom and the Sony cameras can be Clearcom. [Timestamp: 9:36]
I was going to say, you’ve had some time to break this system in pretty well. You’ve used it on probably everything you’re going to use it for there, so how’s it done so far?
Oh great! This switcher certainly is a software-driven machine and you do upgrades and then learn to implement the new changes in the new software. But it’s a living machine, which is a little different when you’re coming out of the old school world like me where you’re used to the switcher being a switcher and it always is. This switcher isn’t. It’s indeed many different things and you can change it and we’ve upgraded three times in a year and that’s interesting and somewhat challenging. Our last upgrade was pretty substantial; it made a lot of changes, gave it some new cool capabilities. It didn’t have auto sequencing in the server before; you manually pushed “next” on your clips and now you can actually play a string of clips back to back to back, which is nice when I open the doors of our building. Playing videos and I play two—we may play 10, and I just start them and go, and literally I can be out in the middle of the arena as I’m playing clips and it’s nice. And the machine didn’t do that when we first bought it; that’s a total upgrade to the system, which was free; it was included with the Pix switcher. It’s like, “Oh, we have a new thing, and we’re changing it;” like, “Oh well, that’s cool.” [Timestamp: 11:03]
And in actual use over some time, you get to know what you really need and what you don’t. So as far as software upgrades, it’s good that they can come along the way rather than just all at once and finding out that you really don’t need some of it.
One of the things we found that we do love, and everyone stared at me when I first purchased, was the touchpanel. My Pix pads are all on touchpanel. Like the Pix panel on the control surface itself, the switcher, I mostly used for the Fluent macros, and I don’t use it to really to call up clips because I have a touchpanel. So my touchpanel is divided out on two clips, and I break it into six different windows, and I can be in six places at once with that, which makes it really fast. I am looking six events ahead at all times—in six different areas with six different thoughts going on at once. That’s something that most servers don’t let you do. [Timestamp: 12:01]
Oh, well, that’s really nice.
Yeah and it took a little time to figure out exactly how to do that. I didn’t really start out thinking it through that way. I was more two dimensional because our old system was very two dimensional. The old system had a page clip store, and then you could go to another page. We have it divided out as six individual pages of six, and if you divided it out into six different thoughts—that works out really well. So, like, I have one dedicated to character-generator clips and then I have another one to planned clips and then we have what we call “random clips,” which are like crowd prompts like, “Go Team” and “Defense,” and all that sort of stuff—stuff that happens more random. But then my next promo clip, which is very important to come on time, my next two are really setting in windows ready to go. So I am ready to go with what I need to go with when I need to go with it, which is pretty cool. [Timestamp: 12:56]
Well, it sounds like a great system, and you got it all in there quickly, added what you needed and I know it’s a real treat for the fans to see all of it working. Obviously, it’s a treat for you since you know what’s gone into it and what’s behind it. Frank, thanks for being here and taking the time to outline the upgrade. It’s Frank Blain from the Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill.