AV Overhaul at Consol Energy Center Part 2
Jan 27, 2011 10:45 AM, With Bennett Liles
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.
Video monitors, ribbon displays, and a 15ft. LED screen all carry the game action at Pittsburgh’s new Consol Energy Center. Chris Mascatello of ANC Sports is here for part two with details on the control aspect of the project using VisionSoft.
SVC: Chris, thanks for being here for the SVC podcast to tell us about ANC Sports and their video display projects in sports venues and in this case it’s installation that was done at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
That is in Pittsburgh. [Timestamp: 1:02]
OK and it looks like a major place here with seating for over 18,000 on hockey games and even more on other events. ANC in this case was partnering with Mitsubishi on this and Mitsubishi did the installation of the display screens, hardware, and ANC handled mainly the control aspect of it.
Yeah, Mitsubishi was the prime contractor on this particular job. They are the manufacturer of the LED displays and they’re also our partner in most large-scale premium major league sport applications. ANC in this particular case was a subcontractor with Mitsubishi and we provided the software for controlling the various displays as well as we provide game day operations to the Penguins and the arena. We also did nearly all of the graphic design work for the various ribbon boards and center-hung scoreboard displays. [Timestamp: 2:03]
The stadium was under construction while you were doing this right?
Yes, usually when they do new construction such as this arena the broadcast control room and in our case the ribbon board and video display controls are the last things to go in, and usually we’re working in a hard-hat environment, so it’s an interesting process, but when all is said and done, we’ve seen it before and you just deal with what cards you’re dealt. [Timestamp: 2:34]
And you have a lot of things going on with the broadcast people and the operation of the inhouse displays. How far away is the display control point from the center of the game action in there?
The control point is actually in one of the corners on what they would call hockey press level, so it’s a pretty good view from up top of what’s going on in game action as well as obviously the displays themselves. [Timestamp: 3:01]
OK, so you can actually gauge the reaction of the crowd to what you’re showing them on the screens out there.
Absolutely, the broadcast suite that is basically producing the game—they’re cutting the game with their own switcher system, replay, character generation, etc. They’re in a little bit more of a sound-controlled environment for obvious reasons, but the ANC operator for our VisionSoft system, which is controlling the ribbon boards—the LED screens that are embedded in the hockey dasherboards as well as the various secondary displays in the center hung—that person is actually on the front row of the hockey press area. So it’s a very much a wide production, and you can really feed off of the vibe in the arena as the operator chooses various game prompts and those types of things. [Timestamp: 3:51]
What kind of video format are you using for the long signal runs?
The main frame, the main line is fiber-optic, and it’s for better or worse a proprietary HD-SDI signal. So in addition to the video that’s being fed from the various LED processors, we’re also carrying secondary control data for display brightness and some two-way relay for system checks and temperature, those types of things. So it’s for better or worse we use traditional SDI and HD-SDI relay equipment, but the protocol its self is a custom tweak on that, and that’s pretty much a standard with all of the LED video companies. [Timestamp: 4:37]
OK, tell me a little bit about the VisionSoft application. That’s the software that actually controls what’s running on the displays right?
Correct VisionSoft is ANC’s patent-pending software system that is basically a multidisplay controller which allows for these major venues that might have between eight, 10, and in the case of Pittsburgh, roughly 15 displays running simultaneously. VisionSoft allows one operator to control the content that’s going out to all of those displays. Really it was a revolutionary product when we introduced it about five years ago. It’s traditionally the same types of systems would have to be run from two, three, four or even five operators, and so you had the human error aspect of synchronization being off or someone missing a cue. With VisionSoft, we were able to put it all within one operator, one button press using essentially using a macro playlist execution, which we call intelligent buttons, and with the click of one intelligent button you can send an entire building to Coca-Cola. You click it again and everything instantaneously goes to Budweiser, etc., etc. And that’s another reason why we used fiber to make sure that we have instantaneous transition and no latency across the lines. And you would have to assume that when you’re dealing with game clock and official scoring, we have to be accurate to better than a tenth of a second. [Timestamp: 6:09]
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