Big South Conference outfits member schools with new cameras to improve video quality of streamed games

The Big South Conference tackles a demanding video production challenge each year requiring more than 700 sporting events across 11 colleges and universities to be captured for live streaming and Web archiving.

To make it easier to meet these demands, the conference in fall 2011 purchased Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM AVCHD camcorders for each member school’s athletic department.

The Big South requires its 11 member institutions — spread across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia — use the camcorders to shoot the majority of their home sporting events, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, baseball, and softball. The events then are streamed centrally though the conference site.

Each school has the latitude to use the cameras for recording other on-campus events, as long as the conference streaming requirements are met. According to the Big South, the goal of the camera upgrade was to establish a uniform video production platform across the conference. The results to date are significant leaps in image quality and production flexibility.

The Big South started live streaming in 2005, and the volume has gradually increased until 2011 marks the second consecutive year the conference is handling more than 700 live streams.

“At first it was pretty rudimentary, with inexpensive cameras and a series of pieces chained together to make everything work on a shoestring budget,” said Mark Bryant, director of multimedia development for the Big South Conference.

“As our needs grew, we knew we had to take the next leap forward, so we outfitted our schools with camera technology that was going to improve our picture quality, allow us to transition from standard- to high-definition projects, and to get more out of our camera equipment.”

The site’s audience is diverse, ranging from each school’s fan base and alumni to family and friends of the student-athletes. The live streaming is available through a subscription service, but the archived files are free as long as users are registered with the site.