Mike Janes had racked up 11 years working at a duplication and post production house when a new facility, the Rose Garden Arena, was built as the home of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
When that happened, the team hired Janes to handle video control for all home games. When the chief engineer retired, Janes was offered the position of Director of Engineering. He’s been on the job for the last 13 years, and currently holds the title of Vice President of Engineering and Technology. Broadcast Engineering spoke with him several days ago on industry changes and his personal equipment preferences that go into his production.
BE: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in broadcast over the last decade or so?
Mike Janes: “The proliferation of HD technology has to be at the top of the list. When I first started out here, though, the company had already jumped into HD technology; not surprising, since our owner, (Microsoft co-founder) Paul Allen, has a well documented history in technology!
“We produce all the content for our pre-game, half-time, and post game shows, plus the commercial inserts, which is somewhat unusual in the sports broadcast industry. That means that we have to have the elements of production in house. We built a 53ft HD truck to house all the equipment we needed because nothing suitable existed in the market place.
“About six years ago we began an upgrade of all of our internal facilities. We put in a new scoreboard and the internal control mechanism to feed it. The entire infrastructure was upgraded; we trashed our SDI infrastructure and went all HD. Again, the fact that we’re in the production business makes it critical that we have the best and most efficient technologies in place.”
BE: You recently decided to implement Shure’s ULX-D™ digital wireless system and PSM 1000 personal monitor system into the suite of products you rely on. Why?
MJ: “Over the years we’ve seen many of the products that compete with the ULX-D-we own some of them, in fact. The facility is made available to outside producers, and we’ve also gotten the opportunity to observe the equipment they bring in.
“When we moved into the new set it created opportunities for us. The most logical thing was for us to develop a completely wireless system. We eliminated all of our cabling, put packs on the talent, and away we went!
“Going with Shure was a relatively easy call for us. The quality of the in ear monitoring was a factor-everyone, including the talent, noticed that the Shure sound was superior to any of the other systems we tried. Our talent is placed up on the concourse. It’s a noisy environment, with fans, vendors, and lots of ambient noise. The talent noticed that they didn’t have to crank up the volume with the Shure equipment. It’s a system designed for music applications, so the sound quality is quite high.
“The battery system of the ULX-D is another feature that we like a lot. You simply throw the battery packs into a rack and they recharge. The charge lasts for five hours or so, and the unit has a read out that reliably lets you know how much time is left on your charge. That’s a very helpful, and somewhat unique, feature, one that gives confidence to a stage manager. In a pinch you can also throw in a couple of AA batteries. We’re certain that going with this system was the right decision.”