HD Video Upgrade at Al Lang Stadium, Part 2
Sep 23, 2014 6:31 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.
With a huge spotlight on the World Cup, the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team wanted to go to HD on their TV coverage. The new system was installed built around the Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 switcher, and Art Dryce of VideoArt Productions is going to take us through all the steps of game prep and production. Coming up right now on the SVC Podcast.
Art, it’s great to have you back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast, talking about the new HD video upgrade at Al Lang Stadium for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Hi-Tech Enterprises in Clearwater did the installation and VideoArt Productions does all the Rowdies home games. We talked a little about this in part one, but how do you actually produce each game? Everybody on the crew has gotten the Broadcast Pix Granite 1000 production system figured out so how does the preparation for each broadcast go?
Our broadcast starts at 7:30 and we’re out there anywhere from 1:30 to 2:30 – the technical director, Tom Sipos and our graphics operator, Mike Simms and myself get out there earlier than the rest of the crew – and Mike and Tom start preparing the system. Mike, obviously, as the graphics operator starts loading in some of the pre-built lower thirds and animations that are part of the graphics package. We’re typing in some lineups and doing various things, and resizing takes place on a game-by-game basis. One of his responsibilities that works really well with the rapid CG in the Broadcast Pix is the scoreboard has to be able to change on the fly, obviously, which it can. In soccer, of course, there’s extra time so we have available to add in the length of the extra time that’s going to be coming in. We have logos that are part of the clock. Of course the clock runs as well, so the graphics operator is always making sure that that’s working properly and integrated into the system properly. Tom is making sure that all the cameras are looking good, we get everything set up. He’s making sure that transitions for our replays are in place. The Broadcast Pix obviously holds all of that material from one game to the next. We’re saving the templates for all that, but it takes awhile to make sure everything is looking good and cameras are set and transitions are all prepared and we’re prerecording some things, so by the time 7:30 rolls around, we’ve got everything in place and we’re ready to roll. We are incorporating into the system a NewTek 3Play, which is the replay machine that we’re using. It’s a great system. It’s got two channels, and of course we’re recording everything into the system and it integrates really smoothly into the Broadcast Pix. Tom has built a Rowdies transition logo that, with the touch of a button, allows us to transition from the live action to the replay. It removes the scoreboard automatically, so it’s a real clean way to transition to replays. And once we’re in the game we’re rolling and hopefully things are smooth. [Timestamp: 3:20]
Yeah, most fans watching out there don’t realize how much work goes into making everything look so easy and effortless during the actual game.
Absolutely true. Most people have no clue that there’s a host of – our crew, I think we have 9 or 10 people that are operating the various different pieces of equipment from the cameras to the switcher to the graphics to the replay and the audio operator, etc. It’s a coordinated effort. The movements that they’re making on the field to make sure that the ball gets in the net is kind of like what we’re doing at the broadcast. I mean we’re coordinating. Everybody’s got a spot. Everybody’s got a place to be, and it’s a little bit of a ballet to make sure it all looks good. [Timestamp: 3:56]
How does everybody handle monitoring? I know you have to give some thought and planning into who needs to see what and how much space that’s going to take. Has everybody got all of the cameras in front of them or is that just you and the TD?
Obviously Tom’s got his Broadcast Pix monitor set up in a way that’s gonna satisfy both he and I. I’ve got the five cameras grouped at the bottom left so I can quickly be glancing at that all at one time, and he’s got the rest of the screen prepared the way he wants it. That’s a fairly large screen. I think it’s a 26-inch monitor that we’re using there. The graphics operator is right next to us with his own monitor, so he is just working on the graphics portion of the system in his own monitor. The 3Play operator, of course, has his own monitor that he’s monitoring all the cameras for the replay, and the audio operator is looking at a program monitor out as well. [Timestamp: 4:44]
I was particularly interested in how the audio op monitors things because I used to be a TV sound guy myself and for sports, your monitoring for audio operators may vary quite a bit. You’ve got a sideline camera and reporter so that makes things a little for interesting for the audio person, too.
It does. Jennifer – Jen Holloway does a great job for 38 reporting on the game for us during the game, on doing some pregame stuff as well, halftime interviews, post-game interviews. And you mentioned the audio situation. Yeah, you know we reconfigured where we were keeping that monitor, as a matter of fact, because the audio op was having a bit of a tough time trying to keep his eyes on the VU meters and then glancing around to see which cameras we were up, because obviously when you’re showing crowd or you’re showing something that has the audio possibility of having some NAT sound brought up, he couldn’t follow it as well. So we’ve got the monitor placed directly in front of him now. None of us are watching the game at all even though there’s a fairly large window for us to be able to see the action on the field. None of us are seeing it live. We’re all watching our own monitors and operating that way. [Timestamp: 5:47]
We talked a little before about pre-production for the show. How much stuff actually changes from one game to the next?
Well fortunately, the Rowdies stuff pretty much remains the same. We have the graphics for the head coach and all the team. We have locator graphics and commentator graphics and sideline reporter graphics and all those things generally remain the same. Every week we have to change out for the new team. There are new graphics for the referees. There’s new graphics, of course, for the Rowdies and the visiting team for their lineups. That’s an animation graphic that runs through the Broadcast Pix, so we’ve got to build that animation along with the new names that are in there. I will say that all of the lower thirds that we’re using for the regular graphics – the commentators and the locators and various things like that – are all animated. We are building them in after effects and then that incorporates right into the Broadcast Pix and Tom’s just got to hit a button and that flies in and flies out. [Timestamp: 6:45]
It’s wonderful how automated some of the hardware can get but people still have to operate it and you had to get your people trained on it so I’m sure the Granite 1000 was easy to get going on but how did the crew take to the whole setup?
I think it’s been fantastic. I think everybody’s really proud of the work that we’re doing. Obviously, at a local level for the Rowdies, they’re extremely pleased that the production value has gone up many, many times and to the point where when I get back home and I’ve DVR’d the game and I take a look at it, it’s looking great. The quality of the cameras and the fiber optics that we’re using and the Broadcast Pix output has been phenomenal, and I think the Rowdies and ourselves as a production team are real pleased with the final results. [Timestamp: 7:31]
Well, that’s great when you can get home, play it back and see what actually happened on the game.
Yeah. I’m probably a little more critical than the average viewer, so I see things that I say we shouldn’t have done that, but nobody else knows that.
And now you’ve had most of the season to get used to it and try out some things. Have you made any changes as you’ve gained experience with the new HD setup?
Yeah. We’ve been able to increase some of the way that we’re using some of the graphics just because of Tom’s knowledge of the machine. We’ve been able to incorporate some nice transition work with the replays – getting in and out of replays. We’ve been able to enhance the scoreboarding a little bit more as we’ve moved along just by being able to add some elements that pop up. I think I may have mentioned it in this podcast – maybe the one earlier – about the extra time module now that can pop up on the scoreboard that we didn’t start with. We’re getting used to various elements of Broadcast Pix so that we’re pre-producing some things now where we were doing some things live. Now that we’re more comfortable, we’re rolling things in pregame so we don’t have to worry about recording over the anthem. We’re not having that stuff available for the crowd to see; we just pre-produce everything and it’s a much cleaner show. [Timestamp: 8:39]
And you’ve still got a few games left to go. Thanks for stopping by with us to tell us about how the Rowdies are doing their shows this year. Art Dryce from VideoArt Productions. Have fun on those games.
Thanks very much. We appreciate you having us.
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. Join us again next time for the SVC Podcast.