Things couldn't have really gone much better for our first event (I'm talking from a broadcast perspective... State losing was not a happy thing...). The crew that was there tonight did a great job adjusting to the new setup.
We weren't perfect. The first event of the season (typically a football game) usually has a few rusty glitches and absent-minded brain lapses. Tonight was no different, but there is something key in that statement... we only had to deal with the rusty glitches and such tonight. There was never a point where we were in nuclear meltdown mode because things were going way wrong. If I mentioned the things that were going crazy most of you would not have noticed. Some of the bigger things, maybe, but many were "behind the scenes" (which is just where we like for them to go wrong!).
The first notable thing is that all of the cameras have already been living at the stadium for a few weeks now. That made things relatively "easy" for setup (please don't kill me, Engineers), and also prompt for breakdown at the end of the night. Instead of having to cart everything back over to the arena at the end of the night, we were able to either store the cameras in a closet or just bring them back up to the [Carter-Finley] control room. Very nice!
Other than the cameras living at the football stadium (and the guys being able to get out of there a little earlier than normal), things really didn't change much for the CF crew. The Skycam guys were in our control room (as they usually are when ESPN is in the house)... They certainly take up a lot of space when they're up there...
For the arena crew, things were VERY different. I explained in an earlier post about the mechanics of a football game for us (somewhat), so I won't re-bore you with those. I'll bore you with different stuff! For the most part, the positions themselves were "business as usual". We had a Director, Technical Director, replays, graphics & Audio. The operational side of each spot was very different!
Even some positions that were virtually the same (i.e.--we had purchased a couple of graphics machines within the last year or so that were upgradable to HD, so we upgraded them over the summer), were still different because we had them doing some different jobs than in previous years [for football]: partially because we (a) were on a learning curve and built certain things on certain machines because we knew how to, and (b) machines that typically did a lion's share of work for football were now no longer a part of the control room.
It took us a little while to get used to our monitor wall. Even though we set it up precisely how we wanted it, it still took some time to adjust once we got into the game. But, thankfully it's easily changeable, so we can tweak as we go. Overall, however, it was incredible to have all the sources that I needed (as the Technical Director) at my disposal when I needed them and not all the way across the wall!
[Geek alert:] On that note, I'll talk about the switcher now :) Can i just say... CUSTOM CONTROLS ARE MY FRIEND! I'm sure that all the switchers these days can do similar things, but the Custom Controls on this Ross were a life saver! I've spent the better part of my last two or three days running through scenarios on the switcher and actually intentionally trying to mess things up so that I could build a Custom Control to get me out of it. Our Engineer appropriately coined them as my "bailout buttons".
[Uber-geek alert:] Basically, when I set for certain effects (such as a First Down or the "under review" effect that I'm glad I built...), my key sources/types changed. Also, due to the limitation of two chroma keyers per MLE, I had to compose some keyable sources on a separate MLE to take them to air. When I needed to quickly reset to "normal", I had created some CCs to get me back to where I needed to be without interrupting the program stream. I know, it's elementary to TDs who have been doing this for a while, but I'm making this thing work and it's cool to see it do what I actually want it to do ;)
I could lull you into an even deeper sleep by continuing that realm of discussion, but I'm starting to put myself to sleep, so I'll hold off ;)
Other positions included replay, which utilized both our old SD Profile system that was integrated into the room; perfect for football. I would say that 75%-80% of the replays that were shown in the first half were run from our old system while the EVS operators got a little more comfortable with their setup. In the second half I would say it was much closer to 50%-50% between EVS and Profile. We even had a post-game recap that was composed on the EVS and played back at the end of the game. Also, with the ability of the EVS to create and export clips in real time, there was no need to "dump to tape" at the end of the night. The clips were already there!
Our graphics/playback guys did a great job, even through a couple of technical hiccups along the way. Everything in our control room is so immersed in computers now - we're completely tape-less at this point. Meaning, we aren't set up to be able to push play on a VTR and take it as a direct source in the switcher as we were in the past. Everything is loaded into a Click Effects Crossfire clip server and played back from there. This machine also does many of our sponsorship collateral and informational pages. The other graphics machine handles nearly all of our replay transitions (with appropriate sponsorship branding). The only replays it does not handle is for a First Down. It also takes care of many "live" (not usually pre-recorded) sponsorship obligations.
One of the spaces that sometimes gets overlooked is Audio. God bless our audio guy right now! He has a massive new console with 48 faders (plus bussing/output) and about a million levels of menu structure in the new audio board. Everything seemed to go pretty smoothly on our end. We were fighting gremlins over at the stadium (who had eaten two amplifiers over the summer... we were pushing a ton of signal down a pipe that was seriously inhibited by lack of power...), but the arena side went pretty smooth.
Overall, I really couldn't be happier with how things went for our first event. Well... maybe if the Wolfpack could've put one in the "W" column... But for us, it was a great start to our brand new world!