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.

1 comment:

  1. Notes:

    The Harris X75s are being replaced by the X85s, but that is pretty much just a software upgrade for the X75... the hardware (circuit boards, power supply, etc.) are pretty much the same. Harris should be able to support these units for at least ten years or so.

    The Harris Predator backup Multiviewer is the Predator 2 as linked in the original post.

    The CamMate head is either exactly the same or very similar to the one linked to above. The camera hardware will be different and the head will be inverted from the video shown, but it's pretty close :)