Installation Trends: Streamlined Sportscasting
May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Daniel Keller
Stadium broadcasting systems shrink in size as they grow in capabilities.
OUT WITH THE OLD
The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, is a prime example of the new face of live production in a sporting venue. Dallas-based Accent Audio/Video recently equipped the stadium with a Broadcast Pix Slate 2100 switching-and-production system, which is used within the park to transmit live video and replays onto the stadium's large-screen Daktronics outfield display. The Slate 2100 integrates multiview monitoring, a character generator, a clip store, and aspect-ratio conversion into a single workstation — connecting via fiber to four live-production trucks, live cameras, and other video feeds throughout the venue and outputting high-definition video to the Daktronics display.
As Chuck Morgan — the Rangers' vice president of entertainment and special events — explains, the Slate workstation allowed his production team to replace a control room full of legacy products from the 1990s.
“At the outset, it was a practical decision,” Morgan says. “Our vintage Grass Valley switcher was no longer supported, so we were due for a system upgrade in any case. Going with the Slate 2100 enabled us to eliminate several other pieces of legacy technology as well. We had a separate clip machine, separate computer graphics machine, separate still store, and separate digital effects generator. The Slate combines all those technologies into a single unit.”
Morgan says that the ability to perform the facility upgrade quickly and with minimum complications were other factors that made the decision an easy one.
“The installation was really a pretty simple project, and we were only down for a total of three days,” he says. “We took the inputs from the Grass Valley switcher, spliced a few cables, and plugged everything into the Slate. Our control-room wiring scheme was pretty well planned to begin with, which made things easy. Honestly, the biggest challenge was probably just deciding where to put the unit.”
Three new Sony 40in. LCD screens were added in the control room for monitoring purposes, but Morgan says that number will probably grow when the rest of the system is upgraded to HD.
“We've still got about 35 or 40 CRT monitors, which we'll eventually replace,” he says. “We really don't need them anymore, since you can view most of it on the Slate and the Sony monitors. In fact, one of our maintenance guys remarked that once we get rid of the CRTs, it will probably cut down pretty dramatically on our air-conditioning bills.”
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