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AV Overhaul at Consol Energy Center Part 2

Jan 27, 2011 10:45 AM, With Bennett Liles

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OK, so you can run predetermined sequences of animation and then maybe jump in at any time and put up something in response to the ebb and flow of the game?
Absolutely, if a goal is scored by the Penguins, we’ve got a big button on the display that is goal. We hit it and instantaneously all the displays that are assigned within that macro executable will go to the goal animation. Our timing and our latency is so low that traditionally we actually beat the horn and the goal light judge so it’s really, when timed out correctly, it just immediately creates an explosive effect within the area. [Timestamp: 6:5]

And this venue’s not just used by the Penguins. It’s used by a lot of different local teams and with the digital displays you have the capability to customize the look with logos and so forth to tailor the look of the place and give it the flavor of the home venue of any team that’s using it.
Absolutely, the ability now with these digital signage systems, it allows you to brand the building for whomever the occupant tenant is for that particular day. And going into high school basketball tournaments, college basketball tournaments, even marketing or a community relations events, it really is a great ability to increase the value to the various events, and the move in the last few years has been to get away from all fixed signage and go to all digital, which is an impactful set of displays to really push the envelope in on the technology front. [Timestamp: 7:46]

You can do so much with the VisionSoft application. I would think that there might be some kind of a rather steep learning curve on this. Do you train people on this and if so how fast do they pick up on it?
The training, it’s pretty quick. Within a couple of days of training and usually two, three, four hours a day—not a lot—we have the operators ready to go and run a full game. The key to using VisionSoft is understanding the metaphor of the intelligent buttons, and once you realize that within any given intelligent button you’re assigning this display shows this particular piece of content, it really becomes very, very powerful. The set up is the only part that really requires much thought. Once the system is set up almost anyone can come in and get a 5-minute crash course in training and be able to switch amongst the various playlists and stat displays and run a game. So it’s proven to be a very flexible and user friendly platform. [Timestamp: 8:51]

I would think that would be significant because the games are live events, and if you have an operator who doesn’t show in time and if it takes some kind of an Einstein to run it, you could be in big trouble if you don’t have the right person at the controls at game time.
The difficulty in the broadcast realm with things like switchers and board opts or using a replayer and EVS system, we’ve worked to stay away from that such that, like I said, of 15-20 minutes of training, you would probably already know 70 percent of how to run the VisionSoft system. And as you said, there’s always the potential for inclement weather, traffic, so you need to have the ability to have someone go into that seat live and be able at least to get through the minimum of what’s expected. [Timestamp: 9:38]

Yeah, there’s a lot of material shown on that system. How are all the graphics and animations created for these displays?
ANC Design, which is a subsidiary of ANC Sports, does the lion’s share of the graphic design and the animated content for the Penguins and the various other events. [For] the Penguins, we use another or a few other companies to do some of their video production work like their game open or their player isolation head shots and features, but we all work from the same elements and 3D pieces, so across all the displays there’s a unified look. The key to any of these digital display systems is the content. You can have a Porsche, and if you don’t feed it the right content, you’ll be running along in first or second gear. It’s really the studying the content that makes these things. [Timestamp: 10:33]

Yeah, I guess it could be a help getting instant feedback from the fans because that’s something the TV people don’t have. That’s a strictly one-way medium, but you have your audience right there where you can see and hear them, so I guess you know right away what charges them up and what may be missing on that.
We get into […] the generic pieces like “Make noise”, “Get up”, “Let’s hear it”, and then the power play animations are obviously a goal. You’re really going to be firing the crowd up, but the secondary piece is the way that the marketing or promotion department for a given team or arena handles the TV timeouts and what you want to do is you want to keep the crowd—if you’re going to a TV timeout with some momentum—you really want to keep that energy level high while also delivering on the promotions and the events that are going on during that timeout. So it really helps keep the momentum going for the home teams at these events. [Timestamp: 11:35]

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