Ensemble Paves the Way for Dolphins’ ‘Salute to Service’

Video from Kandahar, Afghanistan appears on the “big screen” at Sun Life Stadium. MIAMI—The Miami Dolphins NFL team plays at Sun Life Stadium located in Miami Gardens, Florida just north of Miami. As part of the video game coverage, two independent video feeds are required: one of the game itself, and the other to feed the main video displays in the stadium.

Several times during the season, the NFL chooses to bring a particular cause to the attention of a national audience. The most visible of these is National Breast Cancer Month in October, with players, teams, and even referees wearing pink to raise national consciousness for breast cancer research.

This year, in addition to breast cancer awareness, the NFL chose to highlight the work of U.S. military personnel around the world in a “Salute to Service” promotion. To support the effort, the team displayed a live feed from Kandahar, Afghanistan on the video boards during halftime at one of the games. The idea was to provide live interaction between the fans and overseas troops with a troop salute and fan cheer. The trick was putting the Afghanistan feed on the big screen.

After considering several delivery methods, we decided to use an Internet Skype session. This required only a fairly simple setup in Kandahar, and eliminated the need for satellite links and video crews. A webcam was set up to bring the troops into the Skype session and a return feed back to Afghanistan from Sun Life Stadium was established. The next challenge was getting the feed from the computers to the big screen.

The Sun Life stadium displays are fed 720p video from a Ross Vision 3 switcher. We chose Ensemble Designs’ BrightEye Mitto Pro to convert the computer video for the switcher.

We connected our computer via DVI to the Mitto input, and then fed an HDMI loop-through to our computer monitor so we could see what we were doing. Mitto’s selection tool allowed us to define the area of the computer screen we wanted to take to the big screen. The Mitto’s 720p output was then fed to the Vision 3 switcher. An external reference feed to the Mitto kept everything timed.

Everything worked really well on game day. The Mitto’s user interface was straightforward and very easy to use. Having the controls on the front panel eliminated the need to make adjustments from a computer and the unit’s proc amp gave us the control necessary to make the images look great on the big screen. Getting everything going took only a few minutes and the video quality from the Mitto was outstanding.

When the time came for the salute, we punched up the Skype feed to the video boards, the troops in Afghanistan gave a smart salute and then the whole stadium erupted in cheers—including the troops. It was a touching tribute to those providing military service across the globe, and the Ensemble Designs Mitto turned out to be the perfect way to help deliver it.

Tomas Ruiz has been with the Miami Dolphins since 2007. He may be contacted attruiz@dolphins.com.

For additional information, contact Ensemble Designs at 530-478-1830 or visitwww.ensembledesigns.com.