HD Video Upgrade at Al Lang Stadium, Part 1
Sep 8, 2014 1:05 PM,
With Bennett Liles
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From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Art Dryce of VideoArt Productions. Show notes for the podcast are available on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies needed to go HD with the video coverage on their soccer games in Al Lang Stadium. A Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 switcher anchors the new system and video producer Art Dryce is going to tell us how they’re using it to take the Rowdies TV coverage to the next level. Coming right up on the SVC Podcast.
Art, thanks for joining us on the SVC Podcast and we’re going to be talking about the video upgrade at Al Lang Stadium for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Your outfit, VideoArt Productions, does the TV for their home games on webcast and broadcast. So how have things been going at VideoArt Productions?
VideoArt Productions has been around for quite some time. It’s been around for about 32 years now and things are rolling right along. We do a lot of different types of work. Much of our work is spent in the sports field working with the Rowdies, working with some of the other Tampa Bay teams – the Tampa Bay Rays, the Tampa Bay Lightning – through our contacts and relationships with some of the networks in the area, Sun Sports is one of those. The other parts of the business that we work on, which is videos and then some events and parties and things like that have also been doing well, so business is good here in Florida. [Timestamp: 1:35]
Great news and we know the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team wanted a video upgrade to HD this year and you put in a whole new video production system at Al Lang Stadium. How did all of that happen? What did the team want to do with it?
Well over the past few years, I think this is our fourth year handling some of the production for the Rowdies. They wanted to upgrade from a standard def signal. It was a 16:9 format, but a standard def signal that we have been producing for a web-only outlet. The NAFL actually has been upgrading their standards and expectations for the team so the requirement came that all of our webcasts had to be HD. So the system that we were using prior to this was capable of HD, but with HD and the addition of the Rowdies agreement with WTTA, the Great 38 down here in Florida, to have a broadcast signal, we wanted to upgrade the system from a production flow standpoint. The system were using before called the Stream Breeze is a fabulous unit. It’s a great unit for a single person operation. Ed Griswold and Hi-Tech Enterprises here in Clearwater have developed that unit and that enabled us to produce these games in a very cost-effective manner. We’ve got two cameras and I was able to be the director of the TV, rolling the graphics, rolling some of our commercials, rolling the replays, handle all the clock information by myself and it worked fine. But with the standards being increased and our larger audience on the broadcast we wanted to increase the production quality as well as the workflow. [Timestamp: 3:12]
And Hi-Tech Enterprises was the integrator who installed all of this?
That’s correct. Ed was very instrumental in helping us to make the decision to purchase the Broadcast Pix as well as the other elements of the production technical side now. And when we talked about the upgrade from just the webstreaming to an actual broadcast signal it was important for me as the producer/director to be able to focus a little bit more on the elements that I needed to, which was the cutting of the game and some of the insertions that had to be timed out a little bit better. I wanted more crew to be able to help the workflow through so we have a specific TD, we have a specific graphics operator, we have now a specific replay operator and we’ve increased our cameras to four so the production value rose and the importance of having quality people in each of those positions became more important. [Timestamp: 4:08]
Yeah, I suppose the upgrade and some of the things the Rowdies are expecting to see on the video now are a little more than the old one man band routine can handle.
That’s right. The one man band was great. As I mentioned, a lot of props to Stream Breeze; it’s a great piece of equipment. We’re still using that piece of equipment as well. That was the perfect piece of equipment to help us start the process of getting the Rowdies looking good on the web. And quite frankly, it would have been fine technically from a quality standpoint for the broadcast. The situation with the Stream Breeze was not that it wasn’t capable of handling the quality that we needed – it is and it can. The question became for the standards and the production value that I wanted out of the production, I needed to make sure that the timing of some of the elements that were crucial for a broadcast were going to be able to be handled more effectively. So instead of me having to take a couple of extra seconds to get all the elements done as I was doing with the Stream Breeze by itself, I now have a technical director who can punch a little more efficiently. I have a graphics operator who can get graphics in much more efficiently, and of course our replays are now done much more efficiently. So that was where we needed to upgrade our system. [Timestamp: 5:16]
And the heart of the new setup is the Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 production system?
That’s correct. That’s correct.
Okay, and that system has been around for awhile and people generally know what it can do so you weren’t completely jumping off into the unknown on the hardware.
Well we do – the equipment had been around, but we were not familiar with the Broadcast Pix as a production company, but Ed Griswold certainly was and made a great choice in helping us select that. We had a few days with Don, the representative from Broadcast Pix, who came down onsite and trained both the TD and the graphics operator to be able to use the equipment. It’s not very hard at all to master. One of the things we like about the Broadcast Pix is the learning curve to learn how to use it has been very, very quick and very easy and then the actual in-game usage has also been very efficient and easy to use. [Timestamp: 6:07]
Now what are you using for the cameras on the coverage?
Right now we are using JVC GY-HM7710U’s. We have five of them.
Okay, no PTZ camera thing. You have operators on all the cameras and pretty much have to for fast moving sports.
That’s correct. As a matter of fact, I mentioned earlier as we were talking that we have four cameras. We recently upgraded to a fifth camera that shoots our announcers in the booth so we can do some halftime interviews up top now and do some different things. So we’re actually running a five-camera operation as well. [Timestamp: 6:40]
Well, with five people on cameras for these games, communication is going to be critical so what are you doing for an intercom, a communication system?
The communications that we’re using for the cameras, it’s an Anchor system. It’s called Anchor. When we started the process to build the control room and the upgraded system, we were dealing with a certain budget and that budget was able to grow a bit as we discussed the different elements. The Broadcast Pix, by the way, fit into the original budget was not an issue and the cost factor was absolutely very pleasing to us, so we jumped into there. But as we began to add some more cameras and some more things we needed to also find ways to be cost effective in our system so we’re using what’s called Anchor. It’s an Anchor system. It’s actually an aviation type of system that enables us to use wired communication as well as wireless communications integrated into the same system. [Timestamp: 7:30]
It’s got to be pretty reliable with as fast as things move on soccer and you’ve got some pretty rabid fans out there, especially now that we’ve had the World Cup and soccer has taken the world spotlight. You’ve probably got a lot of new fans watching.
I’m sure we do. I’m sure we do. First of all, the Rowdies have not been on TV in their current existence, so this is the first time that local fans are getting an exposure to the team without having to be at the game or watching it on their computer. At a stadium like Al Lang, we have one camera that’s got about 500 feet of fiber optics, which is how we’re running our cables. The other camera’s about 300 feet. We have another one that’s about 300 feet and then another one that’s about 250 feet. So we’ve got a lot of runs that we have to do and the communication is rather important. Our cameras up on the top of the stadium that are covering the action are all hardwired. Obviously the technical director, the graphics operator, the replay operator, the audio operator, the announcers, myself, we’re all hardwired. But the field camera that’s covering the action from the field is a wireless system as well as our sideline reporter who’s on a wireless system as well. [Timestamp: 8:39]
I think the deadline was April 12th for the Rowdies first home game and you got it all in by then so how did things go on the first game?
Things went well. I was not part of the actual installation. We left that up to Ed, who did a fantastic job in getting everything wired in. I was part of the cable runs and making sure that obviously things were working properly, which they were before the game – that first game on April 12. Things have gone great. We didn’t have any glitches from the beginning. Obviously my technicians have gotten a little more competent with that piece of equipment. As I mentioned it’s easy to learn, but as with anything else you know you’ve gotta get on it and work it. So we’ve been able to add some quicker and some animated transitions for the replays that we’re using. We started to pretape our pregame commentary so we can roll that in and not have to be shooting live at the beginning of the game. And it’s been a real progression of a real nice production that we’re very proud of. [Timestamp: 9:40]
Well, I’m glad things have gone smoothly with all the new gear and the crew changes to fit that. In part two we’ll get more into detail on how you do each game. I’m sure that situation has evolved a little since you got it all broken in. Thanks for telling us about it, Art. Art Dryce from VideoArt Productions and the Tampa Bay Rowdies new HD video setup in Al Lang Stadium. It was great hearing about it and we’ll talk more in part two.
Thanks. Appreciate it.
Thank you for being here with us for the SVC Podcast with Art Dryce of VideoArt Productions. Show notes for the podcast are available on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. In part two Art will take us through the prep and production for a telecast of a Tampa Bay Rowdies game. Next time on the SVC Podcast.