Podcast w/ Bennett Liles: Complete AV Upgrade for Dayton Dragons Home Field, Part 2 - Sound & Video Contractor

Podcast w/ Bennett Liles: Complete AV Upgrade for Dayton Dragons Home Field, Part 2

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In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles continues his conversation with Scott Rohrer about the completely new sound and video system at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio, home of the Dayton Dragons baseball team. Scott lays out the technical details on the installation of the RTS Zeus III matrix intercom system and he explains the broadcast camera setup at the stadium along with the layout of the dual control room with one side for stadium AV and the other for broadcast.

Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Scott Rohrer. Show notes for the podcast are available on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com.

A minor league team with a major league sound and video system in their home field. The Dayton Dragons baseball team did a complete upgrade to their stadium control room and Scott Rohrer led the team that got it all done in time for the season opener. He’s here to finish up on how he got the new system put in and fired up. That’s coming up now on the SVC Podcast.

Scott, it’s nice to have you back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast talking about the Dayton Dragons new house and broadcast video and sound system at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio. You led the installation team and last time we talked about the RedNet Dante digital audio network but we didn’t get into the cameras which are of course a primary part of the upgrade. What did you go with on cameras and how are they all connected into the system?

When we started the planning phase we realized we’re going to end up with four hard cameras, two robotic PTZ cameras and a couple of static POV cameras. The hard cameras are full Sony HSC-100 studio chains. They’re using the Triax configuration. They have CCU’s, RCP’s and each one has an OLED viewfinder. Each camera is on a Vinton tripod. The PTZ cameras are also Sony’s, the BRC-H900’s – and those are over fiber and have a controller that’s able to pan, tilt and zoom those from the control room. One of those is located above high third, above a party deck, and then the other is located in the broadcast set room – the TV booth – for our home broadcasts and used to show the commentators on air. [Timestamp: 1:55]

And the fans in the stadium, what are they watching all of this on?

Well the Dragons really have a lot of LED real estate, especially for a minor league team. They’ll see all of those camera feeds on the main video board, which is situated in left field, and that’s directly above a 7-foot by 61-foot ribbon which is on the left field wall. Next to that, on the right field wall, they have another massive display which is over 182 feet long. It’s really quite dominant when you look at it from the stands. In addition to those displays there’s some on the fascias on the upper deck and then also behind home plate. And as well as LED signage, the Dragons also have lots of LCD monitors. There are 16 messaging displays situated on the concourse and then almost 100 LCD’s throughout the facility which have basic cable and then internally-modulated sources. [Timestamp: 2:45]

Okay, and I know a lot of people don’t just jump into considering this right off the top but the intercom is basic to having a good production system in place especially for fast-moving sports so what did you do for a production intercom system?

Well as I mentioned in part one, we went through a really long and deliberate planning process for this project and a lot of that centered around intercom. When the Dragons brought TV broadcasts in-house back in 2008, every crew member that was in there was sharing two party-line channels and they quickly found that that was not going to cut it and especially wouldn’t give them opportunity to grow. So with the renovation we had the opportunity to upgrade to a matrix system and ended up choosing the RTS Zeus III. It’s a very slick system, and the Dragons installed over a dozen matrix user stations, two IFB channels. They have two Motorola radio interfaces set up for their field staff and then also two telephone hybrids for communicating with master control and the rest of the facility. The system has really been great and the flexibility of a matrix system really allowed us to work with them and make their production communication much more effective than it had been before. [Timestamp: 3:57]

And when you got in there and got all of the equipment installed or began to install it, what was the electrical situation? Did you have to make any changes to that so that it could support everything?

Absolutely. There were a lot of changes and that was a part of the beginning construction phase of the process. In our planning we went through and projected all the power requirements that we have for our equipment, including equipment technical circuits, any environmental service for HVAC units and that kind of stuff. We ended up doubling the capacity while installing a dedicated technical service and isolation transformers for that to keep all the equipment separated, happy and to avoid any noise interference from the rest of the facility. And this is outfitted with brand new surge suppression. We did that at the room level and then added UPS battery backups in the racks as required for each device. All of the UPS monitoring is done over the network. It’s actually a pretty cool system. And the really nice thing is because we were really diligent about this project at the beginning, we looked at every location. We really didn’t experience any issues with grounding that you might run into with these kind of installs. [Timestamp: 5:04]

Well, that being the case, what was the biggest challenge on this? What was the biggest hurdle that came up?

The most challenging aspect was definitely the timeline. The span from demolition to the end of crew training was less than four months, which is incredibly tight for a project of this scale and scope. And we found very quickly that we were really glad we put in all that time and planning because all the prep work paid dividends. And not only that, but hiring great subcontractors; Alpha Video was incredible throughout the whole process and completed the project ahead of schedule. We were very happy with them and it really helped to ease our concerns on that. [Timestamp: 5:42]

The real switching center on this now is the Utah Scientific 100 HD-SDI router?

Yeah, absolutely. We went with the Utah 100. It gave us a really great feature set and scale for the cost of the system. It gave us really major league capability on a minor league budget. Now that I’ve said that, the real kicker for that decision was the Utah reliability and their service team. We’ve never purchased a Utah product that we’ve ever regretted and hopefully that’s still the case with this. [Timestamp: 6:11]

I’ve heard plenty of the same about those routers. And you’ve got lots of playback sources for video and sound just about everywhere you look for packages and instant replay and all that?

Yeah, and all that feeds right into that 144 by 144 router. On the production side, video playback comes internally from the TriCaster 8000. There’s a Click Effects Crossfire HD system and then it also gets played back through the Daktronics Venus system. The audio playback on that side obviously also comes from the Crossfire, but also we added a 360 Systems Instant Replay 2 deck. On the broadcast side, their clip playback occurs through a four-channel Ross BlackStorm, which is very nicely integrated with the Carbonite switcher that they installed over there as well as the Avid Deko two-channel CG system they have. Both sides have independent replay systems, an independent replay operator and both of those are Newtek 3Plays. The broadcast side has the eight-channel version, which is 4,800 and the production side has the four-channel 425. And so between those devices, each one having two output channels, those also go into the playback mix. [Timestamp: 7:23]

How long did it take everybody to come up to speed on this? That’s a lot of equipment to learn.

Absolutely, and that’s always the biggest fear with this kind of stuff. I want to be very honest. The crew blew me away as we were going through rehearsals and then opening night. Most of them were fairly familiar with a good portion of the gear, which really reduced the learning curve substantially. And the other thing is it’s just a testament to their talent, their professionalism as well as how well Alpha Video and the Dragons staff did of preparing them. And after opening night was over I think you could take that production and stack it against any production that happened the rest of the season and say it was just on par with everything else that they’ve done here. It’s just an incredible group of people and they always produce an excellent product. [Timestamp: 8:09]

So what’s coming up next for the Dayton Dragons? Have they got future upgrades planned? Is it sort of a work in progress or what’s happening with them now?

Well the staff down there has already started planning for next year. I think they started that as soon as the last pitch was thrown this season a couple of weeks ago. But in 2015 they’re hoping to bring an all-new look to their graphic content, so really taking advantage of that HD system. The biggest change will be on the television broadcast. You’ll see a huge upgrade there. But as an organization, I think the Dragons never stop looking for ways to improve that fan experience. They’re always trying to invest in the community and they’re always trying to make sure that the product in the field is fun and exciting and definitely family-friendly entertainment.  So it already looks like 2015 is going to be another great year. [Timestamp: 8:57]

Well it certainly looks like it and they’ve had the time to shake it all down and develop a solid production routine. I know the fans are going to have a great time watching all this on the big screens in the stadium and at home. Scott Rohrer, the installation team leader for the project. Thanks for giving us the details on it.

Absolutely. Thank you, and I’ve enjoyed talking with you. Please let me know if you’re ever in the area, I’d be happy to show you around.

Thank you for being here with us for the SVC Podcast with Scott Rohrer. Show notes are available on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Be back with us next time for the SVC Podcast.

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