Adding value to the G League Austin Spurs games

AUSTIN, TEXAS—Since the 2015-16 season, Zodiac Studios has been an official affiliate of the NBA G League’s Austin Spurs basketball team, responsible for all of the home game live broadcast productions during the season. David Christopher, producer and on-camera talent at Zodiac Studios, and I produce and broadcast the games live on NBA.TV, Twitch, Facebook, ESPN U, Fox Sports and Eleven Sports. Each game garners around 500,000 to two million viewers combined on these channels.

In order to deliver a world class sports broadcast, complete with sideline reporters, play by plays and player interviews, we need to ensure that we’re capturing the shots that matter the most to viewers. For this, we employ two Blackmagic Video Assist 4K high resolution monitoring and recording devices. During the games, we use one camera to get a wide shot of the entire court and intermittently switch to the other main camera for what we call the “hero shot” or the “tight shot,” which zeroes in on specific team members. Thanks to its large seven inch screen, the Video Assist 4K allows the camera operators to see the game with ease and make sure they’re not missing any important plays.

In addition to its accommodating screen size, the quality of the monitor is excellent. It’s very bright, even when working under the bright lights of a basketball court; we’re able to see everything with impeccable clarity. The aircraft grade aluminum material feels sturdy yet very lightweight, which makes transporting the gear to the court less cumbersome.

To create a better viewing experience for audiences at home, David takes on the role of sideline reporter, interviewing the coaches and players. Nobody does this in the G League, due in part to budgetary constraints, but because Video Assist 4K allows us to shoot and record via HDMI or SDI, I can switch to our courtside camera and use the same monitor, regardless of which input the camera uses. This really helps keep our budget in check without limiting my capacity to incorporate other cameras into our workflow.

Another feature that facilitates courtside interviews is the two mini XLR inputs. It’s incredibly convenient to have a high quality, controllable audio input into the unit. During interviews, we’re able to easily attach external microphones to record audio. In addition, the audio is recorded into the same file as the video, so it eliminates the need for AV sync between separate audio and video files, which is a huge time saver for us.

The recording capability of the Video Assist 4K is unmatched. Using SD cards has made the recording process very simple and incredibly fast. Since it’s not proprietary, you can use any SD card, format it and bring it into a computer. With the amount of footage we’re working with on these productions, it’s an incredible time saver when we’re editing in post production because we don’t have to import the footage; we can use it directly from the card.

Video Assist 4K is much more than a video monitoring and recording device. With its expansive feature set and budget conscious pricing, we’ve become trailblazers in adding value to the G League Austin Spurs games.

Robert Calder created Zodiac Studios in 2001 to encourage a creative place for the development and production of motion pictures, episodic shows and other new media content. He can be reached at robert@zodiacstudios.net.

For more information, visit www.blackmagicdesign.com or call 408-954-0500.

Pictured above: Blackmagic Video Assist 4K allows Zodiac to shoot and record via HDMI or SDI, allowing the producer to switch to the courtside camera and use the same monitor, regardless of which input the camera uses.