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Stagetec Nexus at the NBA Finals, Part 2

Oct 11, 2011 12:59 PM, With Bennett Liles

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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.

This year's NBA Finals were watched by millions and the task of getting the signals from their sources in the Dallas American Airlines Arena to the ESPN broadcast was on the shoulders of Stagetec and its Nexus network. Stagetec President Russell Waite is back to wrap up his chat about how the Nexus network carried the show. That's coming up next on the SVC Podcast.
Rusty, thanks for being back with me on the SVC Podcast for part two on the Nexus network that was set up for the NBA Finals in the American Airlines Arena in Dallas. A lot of remote trucks, a lot of feeds going on, and we were talking about how the Nexus network did all of this. So when you got out there, what was the time frame on getting all of this up and working?

First of all, thanks. It's great to be a part of this and I hope we can get into a little more in-depth questions in Part 2. I hope everybody's sticking around. It's interesting the question that you're asking. As with any network the better you plan in advance the better it's going to come out in the end, but it is a modular system so even at the last minute we can add some cards in there if you really need to and just make it work. But the time frame I guess for the NBA...I mean, CP Communications, I guess they really started a couple months beforehand—configuring what is it that we're going to need, how many places, where, what are we looking at in terms of the arena, where do we have to lay down these pieces. It's not the first time that they've done these types of events. What we really did and what was really the big part of it this year was we were moving the NBA Finals from copper for the audio to fiber and I said, it was really for the A1's a bit of a task to re-think how they were setting everything up, understanding how Nexus was/is working. For a lot of them it was the first time that they've ever seen it—heard about it—but I have to say it was a great reception all around from them and I have to say in terms of planning you can never plan enough before the events. Setup wise, it's relatively smooth. We work with you during the planning stages and we set up all those base devices and I'll draw them up—my team will draw them up—and we'll lay them out across how you think it's going to look for the whole venue and we'll run it that way and just making sure that all the signals that we need are checked off and everybody's getting what they need, and so we set it up. It depends on the event—events like the Olympics, they start very early. We're a year away but we're already starting to plan how the Nexus boxes are going to be set up across the venues so physically we're not going to be delivering anything until June-July. But obviously on can never start too early I guess is what I am trying to say right now. [Timestamp: 3:27]

Yeah, and with a very high-profile event like this with lots going on, you're sort of at ground zero. There's got to be a lot of communication between the people who are taking those feeds and making sure that they have what they need and if there are any problems that come up, that they're fixed very fast. So what was it like being in the middle of all that?
Well it's interesting...there was a lot of habits that have been developed over the years, which I think is great. Obviously faxing of the systems, everybody needs to know that they're getting the sources where it's coming from and pushing want to send tone through everything, you want to make sure that the signal's actually there and you find mistakes, right but the great thing about the Nexus is once she's there and up and running and everybody's happy it's constantly actually going over and seeing that it's running diagnostics in the background and making sure that everything's there. It's pinging the different nodes, or what we call base devices, making sure the communication's OK and then we'll alert anyone that's actually on the network whether there is a problem. They'll be a pop up and basically say, "Hey, we're getting close to heating." It's interesting when we talk about the NBA Finals because Dallas, they're still going through a heat swell over there but we were hitting temperatures of 105 degrees and then the base devices were sitting out in the sunlight, right in the sunshine basically and they were getting quite hot but they're built to military specs so they can handle all this. [Timestamp: 5]

And of course you have to have power and a lot of things can happen power-wise especially in a temporary setup. How did you have that set up for reliability, is there an optional failover on the Nexus system?
Well, on every one of the base devices nodes we have dual power supplies—automatically switch over with no loss of audio so there's no click whatsoever. And then it's the same on the Star so actually for the NBA Final's we had a Star system so we home-runned a lot of the base devices to the Star. So they had a direct fiber connection with the main Star unit. Every piece of the system has dual power supplies because you never know, as you say, what can happen, but CP actually had every unit installed nicely into a case and they had a UPS system on every case and so even if there was any interruption in power supply, they had enough time because the power draw of a base device is so minimal. It's less than a couple hundred watts so it's nothing really off of a UPS system. So they could have just ticking and ticking but luckily, knock on wood, there wasn't any problems to do with power and everything went off real well. [Timestamp: 6:24]

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