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Video Revamp at Southern Illinois University, Part 1

Jul 21, 2011 7:00 AM, 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.

With two sports venues, Southern Illinois University had to stretch its video dollars to best cover football and basketball. They built a control room common to both and linked them with the Copperhead system from Telecast Fiber, and Videos Services Director Chris Hagstrom is here to tell us how they set it all up. That’s coming up next on the SVC podcast.
Chris, it’s great to have you with me on the SVC podcast and you’re coming to us from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where you’re obviously big into football and basketball and video on those events. What’s the university like up there? How big a place is it?

Well the university itself is about a 20,000-student campus. It’s very well-centralized as opposed to some of the campuses that are more spread out—the buildings are all over the place. The campus itself has a lot of their student buildings all focused with central student housing—beautiful area. You really couldn’t ask for a more beautiful campus in my opinion. You’ve got wonderful trees and foliage around. They do a really good job of maintaining the landscape of campus, of course the new additions of facilities makes things look a lot nicer when you’re coming into campus. Originally, you used to see our old stadium, which was a big rust bucket frankly, when you’re coming into campus but now with the renovations that are happening, the campus is really taking a turn to beautify it more than just the landscape. [Timestamp: 1:45]

Of course you’re with the video services team and it sounds as though you guys are very busy, especially when you’ve got sports events going on. So what all does the video services team provide for the university?
Well, we handle all the athletic events that require any kind of video streaming, asking us to come out and video their events, interviews, and really the department just formed almost a year ago next month. There was no such thing as a video service department in athletics for the entire history. They just recently developed the position due to the new video boards that were being constructed and the renovations of the arena and the new stadium being built, but we’ve also been asked by other campus entities to help them out in the system in filming other events and functions like our chancellor's installation…we were asked to help out with some other productions for our on-campus television station. So we really became a part in just a short year…have become a part of not just athletics shooting football, basketball games, volleyball matches, softball and baseball games but also becoming a part of the campus itself and helping out other departments who are looking to break into the video area. [Timestamp: 3:01]

And a pretty distinguished outfit it seems, because I understand you have a video there that was nominated for a national sports award.
We…actually was just nominated for our introduction that we use for our football team. It’s called Saluki Football-Ladies and Gentlemen. It plays off the song “Ladies and Gentlemen” by Saliva, and we were just nominated just a few weeks back and excited to head on down to Atlanta, Georgia for the sports video group awards the College Sports Video Summit so we’re anxious and we’re hoping to claim out the victory on that one. [Timestamp: 3:35]

Well we hope you have a good time here in our town when you get here.
I appreciate it.

So this upgrade was obviously substantial. This was a really big deal so how did the upgrade come about for the SIU athletic department? What did you already have there and what did you need to improve on?
Well, really it started back in 2005 when the chancellor at the time unveiled at multimillion-dollar project called Saluki, and part of the reason for the development of the project was not just for athletics but also for academics and student services. So the plan was unveiled in 2005, which the first phase included a new football stadium and renovated SIU arena and new classrooms, student services building, and a track and field complex now the initial first phase for the football stadium, the renovated arena and a new building for athletics cost right about $83 million and that was the initial cost for the entire project for athletics and our old stadium, as I mentioned earlier, was just very old it was built in 1938 and had very, very limited upgrades to it since then so there was no real way to rehab the facility anymore, and they decided it was time for a brand-new stadium with the new luxury boxes, a new video board, a new surface, and a little more of an inviting atmosphere. Whereas our old football stadium had the track around it, our new stadium does not have the track and it’s a much more closer environment and the fans can really be on top of the opposing team and really make their voices heard. The arena that was renovated was built in the 60’s—1962—and greats like Walt Frazier was an SIU alum. He played for SIU—other players like Larry Bird have come through the arena. I’ve seen a lot of great events at the arena and again the same thing is it really has not seen a whole lot of upgrades since then. So they tore up all the seating, the resurfaced the floor, hung a new video board, added an actual concourse because they was no physical concourse in the arena either, so that was added as well as the Boydston Center, which is an administrative building for football and basketball with new locker rooms, coaches offices, screening rooms, a video department for going over game film for football and basketball, so the overall athletic side of it was a huge, huge upgrade that all started just from the plans to revamp campus and we’re really excited to now be benefiting from the fruits of that labor. [Timestamp: 6:05]

And I think the fiber optics were a big part of this—feeding video to some big displays in the stadium. How big are the screens in Saluki Stadium? It sounds to me like you’ve got the crowd really into video so how do you get the video to the screens?
Well, to the screen we use fiber cable that…it’s a single mode fiber that goes from football and it actually goes to our arena, which is about 750yds. away. We only have one control room that controls both basketball and football video so that was a big challenge to pull all that fiber into one room, having to go around different buildings and finding all the right conduit but at again, single channel fiber between the Saluki Stadium and the arena and the video board itself is a great, great jewel for the stadium—22ft. tall by 32, almost 33 ft. wide and the screen itself is 20 ml’s so again it’s a really, really nice screen and our basketball facility which we will get to later on is very similar to that but we’re so pleased just with the…the key ability of fiber now. I mean you see fiber being used more and more in new facilities but just the speed of transmission is fantastic and all the different things you can do with fiber have really made my job a lot easier. [Timestamp: 7:25]

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