Friday, August 28, 2009

Before and After

For those of you who actually marked this day on the calendar, you already know what I'm about to say: (1) Get a life [yes, this day WAS on my calendar so I'm speaking to myself...] and (2) today was the day DSI wrapped up their end of the control room conversion.

It's been a crazy whirlwind of insanity over the past three months (almost to the day). I wanted to quickly recap with a few before and after shots :) If you want to read more about the early days of the conversion, read about it here (and feel free to poke around in the other posts. You can sort loosely by date on the left-hand column; look for late May, early July).

Engineeringland, May 27, 2009

Engineeringland: August 28, 2009

Control Room/Monitor Wall: May 27, 2009

Old Monitor Wall full of single-source CRT TVs, mostly black and white. Notice also the large clunky furniture.

Holding up the back deck is our own Eric Bridenstine, who set a Roast Grill record of 19 chili-dogs! He had an hour, but it only took him 53 minutes. We at CanesVision are certainly proud. Read more at the N&O and here you can see some of the Twitter updates from other customers that were cheering Eric on (and others vowing to avenge his effort). Stay Tuned to CanesVision Online for a video recap in the near future :)

But... that's beside the point...

Control Room/Monitor Wall: August 28, 2009

Of course, we still have to clean and neaten things now that the bulk of the work is done. There are still a few odds and ends to be taken care of (I mentioned cleaning, right), but also a few loose ends that we're working out. Thankfully, the loose ends pertain to hockey. And, why am I happy about that? Because we're ready for football [as far as equipment/install is concerned], and that's less than a week away!

I do hope to get a better/more thorough walkthrough soon, but... you know... there's quite a bit else to do around here :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Yep. It's that time of year, all right. The days just keep getting longer. The 10 PM mark was breached today. That, after two weeks of 8ish nights. You know you're up against the wall when Preview Day comes around.

Tomorrow, we get to show off all the stuff we've been working on to "the Wolfpack" (generic term for all those involved who have a say in our final production). It's been a whirlwind, especially with DSI trying to tie up all the loose ends before Friday.

On some other notes:
* Our [HD] cameras were fired up this week and look very nice. I saw one of them with the star filter in and, even in the minimal lighting of the arena bowl, and it was pretty :)

* We also fired up our old cameras at the football stadium. It's good to see everything lighting up and signals getting to where they need to go.

* I think I have a pretty good grasp on the Switcher (thanks, Brady). It's doing most of the things I want it to. The things that it isn't doing... well, those are probably just user error ;) Good thing I've got the manuals for late night reading material!

* The Centrio Multiviewer is pretty cool. Being able to customize things to our liking (and the ease of changing it if we need to) is very nice. We've had a couple of hiccups with it, but I'm pretty certain it's because we're taxing the system pretty hard trying to lay things out, try different layouts and such. When we get it to our liking, it'll probably just take a good restart to make it happy.

There are only about a million things that are going on right now, but this is about all that my brain can process for today.

Another random thought: the Hurricanes just re-vamped the website. Check it out:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Final Countdown

One more week of install. The big stuff is in and we're down to the little details. DSI will hand us the keys to the kingdom officially on Friday. One better, our sign-off day for our football creative is this Thursday.

It's a little crazy in that the Pack actually kick off the NCAA football season on Thursday, Sept. 3 vs. South Carolina. So, we have a grand total of six days (including the weekend) to get everything set and ready to go.

Reality is starting to sink in!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Man I'm exhausted!

Three days of switcher training is now a memory. Hopefully I can just as easily "store" and "recall" information from my brain as it is to store and recall presets in the switcher! Okay, geek joke, sorry. It is midnight, after all ;)

Among other things happening around the room today, we tested our program (main video output) video on the main boards today from the switcher, as well as testing our aux (alternate) send to the upper boards. Basically, I can be sending out two separate feeds through the switcher simultaneously. Just as long as I get the right source going to the right output I'll be fine :)

A few more days of football production and I can turn my focus more toward hockey. It sure is getting close!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lots of buttons...

Well... it's official... my head is about to explode. And, we have two more days of training on the Ross switcher. My head is spinning and we've barely scratched the surface! Things that we had outboard computers doing in the past can now all be done inside the switcher.

Our old switcher could do some nifty things, but couldn't even play in the same league as this new switcher. The amazing levels of customization, user presets (for input mapping, button colors, et al.), keyer setups and more are pretty amazing. Our trainer is flying through the the possibilities, and I know we're just getting started.

The next two days will be getting down to building presets and effects into the switcher, so it's bound to be tedious. However, it's going to be great for us in the long run.

Oh yeah, and then there's football...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Learning the Facts of Life

Things are down to the wire with football production. All the while, we have equipment configuration and training going on... whew!

A couple of us took the crash course on the Centrio Multiviewer last week. The concept is easy, but the level of customization makes it extremely flexible. Since this system is tied directly to our Router, all of the input names are set by the router. Also, the tally display system passes these names through for consistency.

Today, we had an engineer setting up our Ross Switcher today, and there is training over the next three days on it. If you follow the link through, and want to see what we've got, we have the Vision 3 QMD/X control surface. I have to say, even with the little things that I learned about what the switcher can do, it made me that much more excited about it. Now I just have to learn how to make it sing before football starts ;)

Personally, I am completely moved out of my temporary shelter for the summer and back in my permanent home. Within the next week, the other guys will be moving down, as well.

I know that I have not been on top of the updates as best as I should, but there are lots of things going on right now! So many I can't even remember them all ;)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

While I'm Away, I'll Write Home Everyday...

Just a reminder to pick up your CanesVision HD/Wolfpack TV HD wallpapers, exclusively from the CVHD Blog :)

Choose your resolution and have fun!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Class is in Session

While I spent my entire day moving more stuff into my permanent home (as well as fighting with a new piece of hardware... which I was finally informed by tech support is incompatible with my motherboard... go fig), other folks on our crew were having a more productive day.

One of our full-timers and several part-timers have been learning the new replay system. I heard farily positive things from those involved, which is good ;) I can only hope that switcher training will go as well for me later this week!

There are so many things going on simultaneously right now... Wolfpack Football production (deadline quickly approaching...); Intercom setup/testing; signal testing at all production stations; editors (such as I) are beginning to move into the control room all while training is going on... it's pretty crazy!

Hopefully, tomorrow I can knock out quite a bit of my football production that's on my plate and then on to more hockey (sorry, just more to do for hockey) :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Looking Good

Harris is in the house now configuring the router and monitor wall :)

We are also going to start the process of moving our editing machines back into the control room, so we should be settling in throughout the next week or so.

Just keeping you updated as I can :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Sport Less Mentioned

Notice I didn't say less important :) It just gets pushed aside in all the HD conversion talk because Carter Finley isn't going HD (yet).

Since some of you may not know, CanesVision is not only responsible for in-game production for all Canes home games. We also do all NC State (men's) basketball home games as well as NC State football games. Yes, the control room at the RBC Center controls the videoboards at Carter Finley.

On game day, we have a minimal crew actually in the stadium (producer, audio producer, stats guy & four cameramen + two grips). The other positions are stationed in the RBC Center control room, just as they are for basketball or hockey (director, technical director, replay ops, graphics...)

In the past, any event at Carter Finley necessitated a major breakdown of eqiupment at the arena only to rebuild it all across the street. The cameras used for hockey & basketball were also used for football (meaning a lot of equipment, such as the camera control units have to come, too... they're heavy....). We had road cases we would load the CCUs into to cart them over in... it was a multiple-day ordeal sometimes (which is problematic if you have a bball/hockey game the night before)...

No more! :)

Since we have the new HD cameras for the arena, we're utilizing the existing cameras solely for football now, meaning much less wear and tear on the equipment. With that, it means we need a more permanent place for the equipment to live (that's not just road cases sitting on a table...)

So... here's the rough plan for our solution.

I realize most of you (even some employees!) wouldn't know what it used to look like ;) Take my word for it... This desk is the "new" video shading station for the stadium. Much nicer - and more permanent - than what we used to have!

These racks are existing and remaining, but I wanted to share... because :)

So... if the arena is HD, and the football stadium is SD, how can the HD control room handle it (and so quickly)? Two concepts: fiberoptics and up/down conversion.

[Over-simplification alert:] We capture the video with the cameras, send them to the Carter Finley control room (for shading, etc.), then ship them over as sources on fiber to the arena. The sources are upconverted to HD so we can mix them in the switcher (with graphics and replays, etc.). The program output is then down-converted and shipped back across on fiber to the videoboards.

Side note: all of our graphics and such for football must completely be contained in a 4:3 world, even on graphics machines that typically do 16:9 work for the arena... so we still get to use the same equipment, just in different ways.

The amazing thing is that through all of this - all of the connections and such - the delay from camera to board is negligible delay in the signal. If you're GOOD, you can spot that there actually is a quarter-second (8 frame) delay, but that is actually BUILT IN so that video & audio [from the single-point speaker setup] match at the 50-yard line (think: speed of light is faster than the speed of sound - therefore, we slow down the light to let the sound catch up...). Cool, huh?

And... where are we? :) Here's our view of the [brand new] field.

And, since I was up there anyway...