Friday, May 29, 2009


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 2 - Skeletons

Bryan and Jordan began the surgical removal of equipment today: disassembling, inventorying, and divvying it up to either be saved, shipped, scrapped or stored.

Here are some pictures of the happenings of the day. Thanks to Jordan Keen for the pictures :)

At the start of the day
Monitor Wall - From Entry Door

And, as the day progressed, some notable images...

VTR Racks (note the shelf.... the left rack is already gone, as are the DigiBetas...)

Engineering land from the corner/door.

At the end of the day...
The Monitor Wall - from the Audio Room door

Also, make sure you bookmark the RBC Center Webcam... Besides catching snapshots of the Sesame Street production, you'll be able to see the physical removal of the current Jumbotron and scoreboard paraphernalia and the new Dak videoboards will be installed shortly after! The entire process is to be completed on June 18th, the day before the Keith Urban/Sugarland concert (they obviously don't plan to use it, it just needs to be done and out of the way).

More pictures to come tomorrow, I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 1 is Done!

And we're all sore....

We mainly got our editing stations out and moved down the hallway. We've been assigned to three broadcast booths used for home and away TV/radio.

The reason you don't see much by way of consoles or monitors on the wall leaving just yet is because that all starts tomorrow. Our engineer begins surgically removing most of this through next week.

Our DSI project manager will be on-site Monday for a walk through. Some time Monday afternoon we will be shipping five tall racks (similar to the ones on the monitor wall) to Seattle so DSI can actually pre-build some equipment into the racks. This means there will actually be multi-tasking by several parties and we'll be getting things done simultaneously. Then, the racks will pretty much "drop in" and bolt to the rack bases and DSI will wire it up. I know, it's an over-simplification, but it's the flow of the project, at least.

Control Room - From Entry Door

Edit Station - one of the most drastic changes

Front Deck - From Producers position toward Matrix/House Production

Front Deck - From Matrix Position toward Producer/NHL Replay

The "Darkroom" - forgot to get a "before" of this one... oops!
Another one of the drastic changes!

Audio Room

Monitor Wall - from Audio Room door

Some of the aftermath in the Press Row hallway...
that's for tomorrow!

So... what's going on?

I realize from a post that I just received that some people reading this don't really know what's going on, so I thought I'd try to expound. Also, welcome if you are linking to this blog from the Canes' website!

In a nutshell: the RBC Center is getting a new HD videoboard ("jumbotron") and is redoing the control room to be completely HD.

(note: "jumbotron" is a brand name used by Sony... saying "jumbotron" is like saying "kleenex" or "band aid"... you're equating the brand name with the product. Since Sony doesn't make Jumbotrons anymore - in fact, we got one of the last ones when the building was built - we'll refer to it as the "videoboard")

Why the change?

Even though the building is just shy of ten years old, some upgrades needed to put in place. After 7000 of broadcast hours (as noted by the videoboard controller), things were starting to either break, otherwise malfunction or simply become obsolete because of newer technologies.

But it's only been ten years!

Think of it this way: in 1999, how many of you had heard of a plasma TV? [rhetorical] Back at the turn of the millennium, large format plasmas were still in the $10K range. Now, how many of you have them in your home? [again, rhetorical] 50" plasmas are now under $2K.

So goes the world of broadcast. The world of HD has grown in leaps and bounds and has been field tested enough that we're able to make smart (or at least well informed) decisions about equipment purchase and such, and even future proof ourselves so we may get a bit more than ten years out of this room!

The new videoboard will be full-LED, with no static displays for time clock or penalty/fouls. It will be supplied by Daktronics, who furnished our current (existing and surviving through the transition) 360° ribbon board and now defunct Matrix panels. They also supplied the two videoboards in the north end of Carter Finley Stadium.

Enough for this post... pictures of our progress today will be posted shortly!

RBC Webcam

If you're fast, you can check out the RBC Center Webcam and see the last of the ice being scraped off...

Calm before the storm

Mainly a pictures post of what the control room and such looked like on Day 1 of the conversion.

Front Deck - Looking toward Producer/NHL Replay

Matrix/Stats (hey hey hey... goodbye!)

Front Deck toward Matrix/House Production

Engineering - from Keen's desk

Engineering - from hallway door

Control Room - From Final Cut station toward door

Audio Room - Patch Bay/Racks

Audio Console

Control Room - from door to Front Deck

Final Cut Stations

Monitor Wall - From entry door

Control Room - From Entry Door

Entry Door

More pictures should be up by the end of the day with the ghost town of a control room that should be left. I'll also try to get pictures of our new home for the summer before/after setup.

On to the next thing!

RIP SD Jumbotron 1999 - 2009

Thanks for the ride, Canes... now it's time to get down and dirty.

Today marks the first official day of the room conversion, and we'll be yanking out our computers, shelves, and pretty much anything that's not bolted directly to the floor. Tomorrow, Bryan Keen will start disassembling the equipment.

Now, if we could just find our baseball bat...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DSI Design Review - Day 2

Well... all the "cool" stuff was pretty much discussed yesterday :)

One nice thing about today was a simplification of the patch bay. Basically, the panel will follow the signal flow from top to bottom - sources at the top, distribution amps underneath, then on to the inputs to the switcher and router under that.

In addition, the sources across the top will normal all the way down, meaning if Camera 1's source output is Row A, Column 1, then you could find Camera 1's DA and switcher/router inputs all the way down Column 1. Think of it as a larger than life functional excel spreadsheet ;)

We finalized the console finishes today; we'll be going with the cherry wood-like side panels and the "charcoal matrix" countertop finish on TBC IntelliTrac systems.

In addition, we will be using TBC TracWall framing for the Monitor Wall monitors to mount to. The TracWall system will be bolted to a laminated panel that basically flattens out the front wall, since there is a slight curve in the wall that is to hold the monitors.

On a side note, our backup V7000 that feeds the backup ribbon board took a dump on us during the last round. We sent it back to Daktronics, who replaced all the hard drives. The unit works well, but needs the mirror to work overtime to get it rebuilt :) If we keep having problems, the nice thing is that the Dak team should be in town in late June/early July to hang our new scoreboard!

Today was mostly patch bay location (oddly enough), as well as signal flow/connectivity. In addition, we discussed the usage of Blu-Ray as our medium of choice for archiving our air check/proof of performance and even melts. The issue is that stand-alone Blu-Ray recorders are not even yet available in the US.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DSI Design Review - Day 1

I know I'm not going to do this justice, but I wanted to get some of the more "interesting" items (at least some of the things I understood ;) ) from the meeting today with Diversified.

I also don't know exact model numbers for some things, but I will try to link to them and I will re-post things that may be incorrect or incomplete.

One of the biggest items from the meeting today - in my estimation - is that we are going to get a new product from CamMate that will allow for a full 360° continuous rotation for our camera mounted under the scoreboard (currently referred to as "Camera 5"). Our current robotic camera is s.....l.....o.....w...... and is used primarily for an overhead of puck drop/tip off, teams taking the ice/floor and crowd/color shots. It also only goes about 330° around and we have to position the dead spot somewhere the lens isn't long enough to reach in the crowd.

The new camera will actually be used primarily for game follow. We will not have to worry about dead zones anymore because we will actually be able to spin the camera continuously in any one direction until we get tired of doing it ;) We were looking at a Panasonic head that was about $3K cheaper, but it had hard stops at 400° (more than a full rotation, which is good, but it still stops), so if the operator "loses" where he is, he could get burned by "hitting the wall".

Side note: since the scoreboard camera will be utilized primarily for game action, we will actually have a roving, sixth camera for most events used for fan/color shots more than our current setup.

A nifty by product of this (and of us being a 720p world - which makes us compatible with our main broadcast rights holder that holds the contract for the next four years at least - FS Carolinas), is that TV broadcast can now use our camera for live or replay as desired. We are actually putting CanesVision and Broadcast program feeds at this station so the operator can tell if he's "live" on Broadcast even if he only has tally for the CanesVision show.

Okay, hopefully the other couple of issues will be quicker. At least I'm not boring the less than super-uber geeks with signal path stuff (that's still fuzzy to me anyway...)

We will be utilizing Harris X75 Frame Syncs as utility up/down/cross convert signals used in production. While our cameras will all be run at native resolution (again, 720p), other signals - such as our present analog 4:3 NTSC cameras which will still be utilized for NC State Football - will pass through these to lock to our production. I noticed at Harris' website that the X75s are "obsolete"... I will be bringing this up at the meeting tomorrow :)

Another nifty feature in the control room is our "safety net" of redundancy to our production. We will be utilizing a Harris Predator multiviewer as a backup in case the main multiviewer, Centrio, crashes during a production. The Predator (linked above is the Predator2 - unsure of our exact model on order...) will receive 12 signals that can keep us afloat in the event of a failure.

The nice thing is, these 12 signals are direct feeds into the switcher, meaning the Centrio AND our routing system can both fail and the sources will still hit the switcher and the Predator to keep us live. Of course, if the switcher goes down, you're screwed anyway and we'll have to get a nice spinning logo from our Dak operator out front ;) If interested, the 12 sources designated as essential are Cameras 1-6, Crossfire 1 ("FIRE"), Crossfire 3 ("VDOC"), Miranda XG ("KERMIT"), EVS Out (single out, dual channel), Preview & Program. This gives us all of our manned cameras, including robo, our graphics, clip playback and replay source... everything we need for a barebones production :)

The outputs of the Predator will live on the "B" side (alternate input) of one of the five monitors on the monitor wall & out at the producer's position on the front deck overlooking the arena bowl. Should the Centrio go down for whatever reason (it does run on Windows...), it would just take a few seconds to flip the monitor over to the alternate input for the backup system.

Other issues such as where each of the Editors lives for pre-production was hashed out today. All of the Editors will be in the Control Room now, and will have mostly-adjacent desks.

In addition, we also went position-by-position for the game-night operation positions to make sure they were just right. Let me tell you... having TBC on board will make a big difference! Not only in functionality, but it will also look friggin' sweet!

Tomorrow is more of the same, but we're also meeting with some other people throughout the day, so I'm not sure how much will be interesting to share, but if it is even remotely good, I'll probably put it in writing.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I know some of this is a snooze, but when it's all said and done, it will be LIGHTYEARS (pardon the fiber-optic pun...) ahead of where we are now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the Table

Something substantial here in CanesVision has happened and I needed to share. We are getting actual technical furniture from TBC!

It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a rather big victory for CanesVision. The technical consoles are the "desks" that all of the production equipment positions are located at in the broadcast environment: i.e.--Director, Technical Director, replay, graphics, etc.

Up until yesterday, the debate was going on about using a technical console manufacturer or having someone coach someone through the steps to build a console from scratch. There are many issues to consider when building something like this from the ground up, including rack units and rail configuration, as well as power accessibility and cable management.

A contractor had originally stated that he could produce these consoles for a significant amount less than what we could purchase the TBC consoles for. However, through the course of several discussions with them and TBC contacting them directly, they were able to strike a deal and the furniture for the broadcast positions will be honest-to-goodness technical furniture!

Friday, May 15, 2009

On hold

The Carolina Hurricanes are returning to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in four years!

That means no demolition tomorrow! The new room can wait ;)

DSI will be back in town this week for a final review of everything. Some items are already purchased/decided on and others are still to be finalized. Hopefully there will be something interesting to write about next week!

For now, GO CANES!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

From the other side...

I want to be sure to mention that if you're already in an HD world, please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences here as you feel so inclined. It would be good to have insight from people from the other side here.


Oh yeah, and GO CANES!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Window to the World

There are so many things that I want to be able to say about everything that is going on around here... too bad I only have time for short posts!

I wanted to start on the equipment side of our room renovation with the focal point of the room - the monitor wall.

Currently, the CanesVision control room is full of rack-mounted CRT source monitors, ranging from 9" to 24" in size, most black and white, a few (graphics and preview/program) in color. The footprint is staggering...

Technology has come a long way in the near-ten years since this room was built, and the monitor wall is getting a definite upgrade! We will be utilizing a total of five NEC LCD4615 displays for our monitor wall sources. To "break up" the monitors into usable sources, we will be using the Harris Centrio Multiviewer software. We have already downloaded the software to be able to lay out the wall, but haven't had much of a chance to figure it out since the team is still going strong in the post-season (incessant knocking on any surface that closely resembles wood can be heard...)

The nice thing about the multiviewer setup is that it is custom configurable with virtually no limit to the number of layouts you can design. So, there can be a layout for hockey with separate director and td, hockey with a single director/td, basketball configured both ways, football, monster trucks, graduation... you can have a different layout based on the number of inputs and type of event, without having to physically patch anything. Just drag, drop, save and import :)

In addition to the monitor wall, there will be additional multiviewer outputs (all driven from the same Centrio) at the video shading position and the producer's position. Currently, our producer can not see anything but our program feed. Now, the producer will be able to see as many inputs as we can squeeze onto his monitor :)

There are so many other things I want to talk about, but I don't want to bore anyone to death. So, for now, this is good enough...

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment and we'll try to figure out the answer ;)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The [Not So] Beginning

I'm creating this blog in hopes that I can update throughout the summer on CanesVision's conversion to High Definition. Not sure who will find this interesting or useful, but I hope to post at least weekly throughout the next few months to keep readers aware of the changes coming to the RBC Center in the fall.

It's not really the beginning, as conversations have been going on for several years on the HD conversion, but only in the past year or so have the conversations been pushing toward reality.

The big puzzle pieces are that we are using Diversified Systems. for the integration of the room. In addition to the control room going HD, we are getting a new full-video scoreboard from Daktronics.

As things progress, I hope to fill in the gaps on all the decisions made on equipment (which has all but been finalized already...) as well as room integration and such. If there's anything you wish to know, please comment and ask! I hope to have others involved in this process looking in on this blog and offering their comments, as well.

Thanks for stopping by!