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...