Integrated production system keeps sports entertainment affordable
Keeping fans interested during the inevitable lull in games has always been a challenge for sports teams, both on the professional and college level. Live and prepackaged video segments are certainly one option, and the crew at the University of Mississippi has found a cost-effective way to do it.
Oxford, MS-based “Ole Miss” is home to several campus venues for its Rebels teams, including its 60,000-seat Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for football, Tad Smith Coliseum for basketball and Oxford-University Stadium for baseball. Oxford-based TeleSouth Communications is the exclusive producer and distributor of Ole Miss sports programming.
As part of a $27 million renovation, TeleSouth upgraded the school’s football stadium video board to a Daktronics HD LED display and redid the school’s production control room and adjacent studio.
The TeleSouth Communications crew is using a 2M/E Slate HD live production system from Broadcast Pix on campus to produce game-day entertainment for the big-screen video displays at more than 100 football, basketball and baseball home games. The video content supports a JumboTron screen, in-house monitors in suites, webcast and various clean feed outputs to record decks simultaneously.
The Slate system’s companion router handles all incoming camera and audio signals from each venue, including three JVC HD studio cameras with Canon lenses and one wireless JVC HD handheld camera. The router also interfaces with six Fast Forward Video Omega HD DVRs used to record the games as well as facilitate instant replays. The Broadcast Pix switcher also handles various studio set productions.
The Slate 5032hh system allows TeleSouth’s crew to produce and output two different shows simultaneously. This comes in handy for baseball games, according to Shane Sanford, director of Internet services and graphic design for TeleSouth Communications, because NCAA rules do not permit live video to be displayed on the large video board at the Tad Smith Coliseum while a batter is in the box because it can be a distraction. “While we just display a static headshot of the batter along with his statistics, we’d like to still be able to show live video and replays on the TV screens in the concourse and skybox areas at the venues.”
Live video is also shown during live game webcasts viewed by paid subscribers at OleMissSports.com.
The system is installed inside a control room in the Athletics Administration Building, which is linked via two-way fiber to all three sports venues. The Slate is used to produce both live and prerecorded video shows — complete with graphics, animations, replays, real-time statistics, scoreboards and commercials — that enhance the game-day experience at more than 100 Rebels football, basketball and baseball home games.
Media Support Group, a dealer and systems integrator in Lubbock, TX, handled the design and installation of the new Slate system inside an upgraded control room and adjacent studio. The school had been using a Studio 2000 system, one of the first Broadcast Pix switchers on the market, to run its game-day operations for the past six years. (The older Studio 2000 will be moved to a smaller control room where it will be used to produce softball games and serve as a backup to the Slate 5032hh when two scheduled games overlap.)
The Slate switcher now in place enabled Ole Miss to cut down on capital costs for external gear such as CG, DVE, still and clip storage, camera control and monitoring, while also including a router, 16:9 HD capability and the option for a second M/E. From a budgetary standpoint, the school figures that the new Slate switcher provides more than $350,000 worth of HD functionality for less than a $100,000, and it can be operated with less people than before.