Midtown Video Specifies DYVI switcher at University of Miami Athletics

The University of Miami (UM) – the home of Hurricanes Athletics – is set to become the first university in the US to deploy the software-defined DYVI switcher to produce live sports. The switcher from EVS, the leading provider of live production technology, is used by multiple professional sports teams and will be implemented into the athletics department’s campus production control room as it prepares to undertake its new production role for ESPN’s upcoming ACC Network. Midtown Video played an important role in bringing EVS solutions to the attention of the University so it could prepare for the launch of the ACC Network.

Installed as part of a wider broadcast facility upgrade, DYVI will be instrumental in the creation of both digital and linear programming by the university production team as it begins outputting broadcast TV feeds for the first time. This comes as each of the 14 schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference assume responsibility for producing their home-events for the ACC Network which is set to begin broadcasting next year.

To meet the expectation of the highest-quality output for ESPN, the University of Miami knew it would need a switcher that featured at least three MEs and could be reconfigured quickly because it would be used for more than ten sports with overlapping schedules. The built-in flexibility and configurable nature of DYVI means it’s perfectly suited to this kind of production setup and doesn’t need reconfiguration for each sport requirements.

“When the EVS team demonstrated the DYVI switcher to us, I was immediately blown away,” said Drew Thomas, the director of production services for the University. “DYVI could effectively let us put in place 99 MEs if we needed them, so we can jump from a basketball setup to a baseball configuration at the touch of a button.”

With a young team of production operators, the intuitive interface is another feature of DYVI that played a key role in the university’s decision to go with the switcher. “The interface quickly makes sense and provides an excellent user experience,” added Drew. “It easily does what I’ve always wanted other more traditional switchers to do.”

As part of the same control room upgrade, the production team also needed to implement a robust replay solution that would consistently deliver for over 100 sporting events a year. To meet this demand, UM also put in place two XT3 live production servers and four LSM remote controllers. The EVS systems will be used to ingest live feeds from events taking place across the campus into the control room, where operators will create replays of the action, which will be cut into the live output by DYVI.

“The introduction of the ACC Network is a great opportunity to showcase the on-campus sports that the Hurricanes excel at, so we wanted to maximize this opportunity with this facility upgrade,” commented Drew. “The reliable and intuitive nature of EVS technology is going to play such a key part of the creation of our first linear TV broadcast and I’m really excited to get it up and running.”

The University of Miami will complete all aspects of its facility upgrade and begin running full productions by the end of the year. ESPN’s ACC network will begin broadcasting on its dedicated TV channel in 2019, while continuing to also deliver output to its accompanying ACC Network Extra mobile platform.

Thaler Media, Western Amateur Championship

Thaler Media pulled off historic live coverage of the 2018 WAC with remote IP production and streaming.

While the Western Amateur Championship has taken place annually since 1899, this year marks the first time this storied golf tournament has been covered live. Many golf greats, including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Ben Crenshaw, and Curtis Strange, won the coveted Western Amateur title early in their careers.

Historic Moment

It all changed with the 2018 Western Amateur Championship—held July 30 through August 4, 2018 at the Sunset Ridge Country Club, in Northfield, Il, near Chicago—when Lowell Thaler, president of Thaler Media in North Palm Beach, FL made broadcast history by producing live HD coverage of the event’s “Sweet 16,” quarter-finals, semi-finals and championship matches on Friday, August 3 and Saturday, August 4.

Working closely with his client, the Western Golf Association (WGA), Thaler streamed 12 hours of live coverage to Golf Channel’s digital platforms, including golfchannel.com and their mobile app. The feed was also carried on the WGA’s Facebook page and website, thewesternamateur.com.

“We were able to produce this event very affordably—at perhaps a tenth the cost—compared to the overhead typically associated with a live broadcast-quality HDTV show by leaning heavily on NewTek gear, NDI networking, and LiveU’s transmission system,” Thaler said.

“We managed to shave costs without compromising high-end production standards, such as expert shot composition, picture and sound quality,” Thaler added.

What’s more, Thaler produced the entire show from a studio a time-zone away, in his home town of North Palm Beach, FL, using what can best be described as a remote IP streaming production approach.

“It’s been logistically and financially challenging to send large crews, HD trucks, and/or elaborate fly packs to remote production sites,” Thaler explained, “But this IP streaming production strategy is now a robust, viable alternative.”

Sunset Ridge

The only production personnel that Thaler sent to the Chicago area golf course were Producer Laurie White, Editor Eric Wagnon, four camera operators and a sound mixer. Three of the cameramen moved freely around the golf course, following the players from hole to hole to get the perfect shot.

Since there was no production control facility or mobile video unit on-site to switch and output the program feed, each of the camera operators wore a backpack containing a LiveU LU600 HEVC and LU500 IP-based transmission system. These modems with HEVC HD video relayed their respective camera video and audio signals via an IP pathway to a LiveU LU2000 multi-output server situated at a master control facility 1,300 miles away in South Florida.

Much of the golf action was covered by multiple cameras, and occasionally, cameramen could be seen in the live shot trying to capture it from a different angle, which gave the production a fresh, dynamic look. This was state-of-the-art photography; not the shaky-cams or web-cams all too common on streaming platforms. All of the camera work was done in remarkably steady handheld mode, with excellent shot composition, using high-end Sony F55 cinema-grade cameras.

A small remote talk show set was set-up inside the Sunset Ridge clubhouse. The program’s co-anchors—David Marr III and Scott Walker—sat at the desk to deliver color commentary and game analysis.

A virtual set filled the greenscreens behind them and in front of their desk, making it appear as if they were enmeshed within a virtual studio that was far larger than the actual physical space. This was one of the virtual sets that Thaler had chosen from the NewTek virtual set collection that came with the TC1.

Master Control

The master control facility, which consisted of a two-room suite, can be described as a completely non-traditional, ad hoc broadcast setting. This South Florida site was crewed by nine people, including the producer, director, TD, audio mixer, live graphics and replay teams.

One of the master control rooms served as a main studio where a third anchor, Craig Dolch, sat in front of a green screen to provide additional commentary. A different but complementary NewTek virtual set was keyed into that background to distinguish it from the first. After Dolch concluded his commentary, he would toss it back to the anchor team at the Chicago clubhouse.

The other room at Master Control housed a NewTek TriCaster® TC1 IP production switcher. As a frame-accurate 4K UHD/60p-capable switcher with an all IP architecture, the TC1 is a 16 input, 4-M/E switcher with multi-bus mix/effects, animated titles and transitions, chromakey, built-in video servers, clip players, graphics channels, a virtual set system, and more. The TC1’s virtual set generation and editing capabilities were maximized on this production.

The production control workflow also included a NewTek 3Play® 3P1 replay system, which allowed a replay operator and replay producer to provide SLOMO replays, and playback of aerial footage captured by the camera on a drone flying over the golf course throughout the broadcasts.

A NewTek Live Text CG system running on a laptop provided lower third supers and other on-screen graphics. And a NewTek Live Panel audio mixing control panel was used to combine all of the audio sources—including camera audio and natural/ambient sound—into the final program audio mix.

Remote IP Operations

“Using a simple, streamlined, get-it-done approach, we were able to cover an event that was never covered live before,” said Thaler. “The key was the way we were moving signals between the two sites in real-time, so that the Chicago and Florida production teams could work together seamlessly as if they were both at the same site.”

This included the use of the four Skype channels on the NewTek Talk Show to send our TC1’s program output as a ‘return’ feed to provide essential reference monitoring to the Chicago team. This mix-minus audio feed was then split to each of the anchor’s headsets, essentially serving as an IFB. TalkShow also enabled Skype interviews with guests to be fed back to the TC1 in master control.

The end-to-end LiveU transmission system was critical technology tying the two remote groups together because this was the method for relaying the camera “iso’s” and audio back to special LiveU LU2000 server in the control room.

This Linux server relayed the camera signals via NDI® for video over IP networking to the TC1 switcher where the TriCaster operator could mix these live camera inputs with all the other production elements, including features, such as historical vignettes and player profile clips.

Midtown Video

Lowell Thaler gives a special shout-out to Midtown Video, his Miami-based equipment supplier, systems integrator, and a dependable source of production services and expertise. In addition to providing video and audio production equipment as turnkey solutions, Midtown Video also contributed several NewTek/LiveU-savvy technicians to Thaler’s crew to ensure that the live productions ran smoothly.

“Golf tournaments present logistical challenges to traditional broadcasts because there are essentially miles of wiring and cabling that have to be run to support acquisition,” said Fernando Iglesias, Midtown Video’s VP of Operations. “It wouldn’t be feasible or cost-effective to do these cable runs, or to deploy a high-end HD production truck, for an event like this.”

“But with the LiveU transmission system, the broadcast cameras connect directly to backpacks so that the cameramen can move freely around the golf course without any need for long-distance, labor-intensive fiber runs,” Iglesias explained. “Combined with the NewTek production and NDI networking systems, this IP-based approach is extremely cost-effective compared to traditional HD-SDI broadcast.”

Midtown Video also provided technical support needed to turn one of the LU600 HEVC units into a “data bridge” so that the Chicago crew would have a solid Wi-Fi hot spot on the golf course. This enabled them to have dedicated bandwidth to ensure they could reliably send a Skype program return feed to the Chicago team—a critical transmission connection—and not rely on the venue’s existing Internet bandwidth.

“While it’s true that NewTek and LiveU products are game-changers that are making high-end broadcast production accessible at a much lower price point, it’s still important to have the support of a supplier like Midtown Video that really understands how to implement unique workflows that achieve the production’s creative and technical goals,” said Debby Miller, co-president of Midtown Video.

Paradigm Shift

According to George Klippel, Sales Director, Channels for LiveU, Inc., “Many of the products and technologies that enabled this live streaming production were either not yet available or ready for primetime, just a few years ago. Today, by pairing LiveU and NewTek technology, Thaler Media was able to produce a broadcast quality product as if they were on-site with a full production unit and crew, all while considerably reducing the costs and streamlining the workflow.”

For Lowell Thaler, the success of this remote IP streaming production is a proof of concept for a vision he’s had for a long time. He plans to apply this proven methodology to a wide range of future events that would otherwise never be feasible or cost-effective to produce or broadcast live.

“Our 2018 Western Amateur live stream has proven to skeptics that live shows and events that have never been broadcast before can now be produced and streamed, with high-end broadcast quality, very affordably, reliably, and successfully, and for video producers like me, that opens many doors of opportunity.”

Equipment List:

NewTek TriCaster TC1 multi-camera production system
NDI® for video over IP networking
NewTek 3Play® 3P1 instant replay system
NewTek Talk Show 4000
LiveU LU600 HEVC and LU500; six units in all
LiveU LU2000 server
NewTek virtual sets; green screens
5 Sony F55 cameras
NewTek LivePanel audio mixing control panel
NewTek Live Text CG live graphics system
Drone system for aerials

Shooting behind the scenes with Sony F55 camera and LiveU LU600 portable transmission system

Thaler Media, Honda Classic Live, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Thaler Media Streams Live from Hospitality Tents at The Honda Classic 2018 Golf Tournament

Midtown Video, NewTek and LiveU go above and beyond to make this unique venture a reality

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLA.

Streaming live from multiple locations

Streaming live from multiple locations

While sports networks pay handsomely for the exclusive rights to broadcast major golf championships, such as The Honda Classic 2018 tournament, Thaler Media President Lowell Thaler recognized that there was another really interesting “show within the show” that had heretofore gone unnoticed—the hospitality tent parties taking place near the greens at the PGA National Golf Club.

Sponsored by major brands, like Gossling’s Rum and Tito’s Vodka, these hospitality tents provide beverages, refreshments, and entertainment to the event’s special VIP guests, as well as a great vantage point to watch golfers as they take their shots nearby and on big-screen displays.

With his professional background producing live video for major golf associations, such as The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), Thaler envisioned deploying roving camera crews and talent to cover the most colorful moments taking place at these party tents. By live streaming the video to a platform like Facebook Live, he would be able to hold the line on production and distribution costs while reaching a targeted, global niche audience.

When Thaler approached event organizers about live streaming from their hospitality tents during that Honda Classic 2018 weekend (February 22-25, 2018), The Honda Classic Live project was immediately greenlit. Ken Kennerly, the Executive Director, saw the value proposition that this social media exposure posed for their tent sponsors and fans watching at home. It also had potential to entice new tent sponsors for the next event.  

At that moment, The Honda Classic 2018 was only two and a half weeks away and Thaler didn’t have all the production equipment he needed to make it happen with uncompromised quality. So, he quickly placed a call to Midtown Video—the Miami-based video equipment dealer and systems integrator that had sold him two Sony F55 CineAlta systems—seeking equipment solutions and support.

NewTek TriCaster TC1 switching, streaming, recording the action

NewTek TriCaster TC1 switching, streaming, recording the action

Upon learning of Thaler’s intriguing production plan, Midtown Video’s VP Operations, Fernando Iglesias sprang into action, recommending the optimal gear for this unique streaming application—including the NewTek TriCaster TC1 16 input, 4k/60fps capable IP-based production switcher, and LiveU’s LU600 portable transmission system and companion LU2000 bonded video transceiver. Midtown Video also rushed his order to ensure prompt arrival.

As equipment began arriving from LiveU and NewTek, Iglesias and his team unpacked the boxes, set up the devices, and tested the end-to-end workflow. They then packed it up into two fly packs, and personally drove it from their Miami facility up to a hotel ballroom, in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, that Thaler had arranged to use as the master control room for this Facebook Live event.

During The Honda Classic Live 3-day shoot, the LiveU LU-600 transmission backpacks enabled Thaler’s camera operators to back-haul their HD signals from the Sony F55 cameras covering the hospitality tents—over bonded cellular service—to the LiveU-2000 transceiver in the nearby ballroom.

From there, the signals traveled over an NDI LAN into the IP-centric NewTek TriCaster TC1, which was used to 1) switch the live show, 2) iso-record it for later post production, and 3) deliver the high-quality live stream to Facebook Live. Representatives from Midtown Video, as well as NewTek and LiveU, all provided valuable on-site tech support to Thaler and his production crew during the entire production weekend.

Despite the short lead-time and very little pre-show publicity, The Honda Classic Live

coverage still managed to garner 6K views per day, and 18K views over the three days. Upon seeing the success of The Honda Classic Live streaming, The PGA of America now voiced interest in doing similar productions in their own golf tournaments’ hospitality tents.

When Thaler set up a technology demo to wow PGA of America executives as to what the TC1 and LiveU workflow could do to get the business, Iglesias and others again drove up from Midtown Video to Palm Beach Gardens to provide further technical support and ensure that the demo went off without a hitch.

LiveU and NewTek representatives also flew in again to make sure the PGA of America demo successfully showed off their integrated solutions’ capabilities. According to Thaler, all three companies worked tirelessly in tandem to help him achieve his production goals and potentially launch a whole new event streaming business.   

“Without the LiveU and TC1 systems, I could not have pulled off this high-quality production as cost-effectively,” Thaler said. “The workflow is a fraction of the cost of renting an HD production truck. With the LiveU LU600 backpacks and NewTek NDI networking, I can send camera crews wherever I need them—even thousands of miles away—and direct the shoot remotely from my studio control room in Florida.” The savings on travel, labor and other production costs make it very appealing to cover these smaller, niche events that would otherwise not be cost-effective to cover.”

“The LiveU Wireless At-Home Production solution gives customers the ability to roam around, go behind the scenes, and get reaction shots from people at outdoor venues, and then send it back to a central location for production and distribution to online viewers,” said George Klippel, LiveU Director of Channel Sales. “It wouldn’t have been possible to do with a large camera connected to a fixed cable position and securing a production truck would have been cost-prohibitive.”

“Customers can affordably and efficiently create much more engaging, exciting and memorable content for viewers using this mobile workflow. We’re excited to see what Thaler Media produces next with the help of our technology,” Klippel added.  

“It was remarkable how quickly the production workflow all came together. Whatever I needed, the folks at Midtown Video said, ‘No problem,’ and took care of everything. After they sold me the equipment, they could’ve said, ‘Well, here ya go. See ya,’” Thaler said. “But, instead, they took a genuine interest in helping me succeed and making my interesting, unconventional show idea a reality.”

“What Midtown Video [and Thaler Media] provided to the good folks at The Honda Classic 2018 was nothing less than a snapshot of the future of video production,” said Scott Carroll, director of PR for NewTek. “What they achieved—high-quality programming at a fraction of the cost of traditional baseband methods—would have been unimaginable a few short years ago. LiveU to TriCaster, with NDI as the backbone, is an extraordinarily powerful combination that they ably demonstrated.”

University of Miami Baseball Stadium

The University of Miami Baseball team is using a new pitching analysis system that could catapult the team to Omaha for the College World Series, a goal of their beloved coach Jim Morris, set to retire after 25 winning years. University of Miami Baseball home games are played on campus at the 5,000 seat Alex Rodriquez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida.

To enhance the system with high-image quality cameras worthy of in-game coverage, UM called on Midtown Video’s CTO Jesse Miller. He specified four HD Panasonic Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras with 30x optical zoom lens. Every movement of every pitch is recorded from at least two angles, offering a comprehensive and detailed view of the pitcher’s technique. Video images can then be studied for coaching and player review sessions.

The cameras are contained in tinted ‘CoolDome’ active cooling enclosures for outdoor protection.  They are controlled remotely from the press box with a sub-compact joystick controller and quad-split monitor system. While the dugout and home plate cameras are close enough for copper, fiber optic systems from AJA and SerialComm extend signal and control to the outfield camera.

Since 1973, UM has been of one college baseball’s elite with 25 College World Series appearances, four National Championships, and 29 NCAA Regional titles. UM Athletic director Blake James calls Morris “a legend”. In his final year as coach, Morris hopes to get one more national trophy.

Midtown Video is a leading video and audio systems integrator located around the corner from the U and a South Florida technology innovator for more than 30 years. One of the founding partners is a proud ‘Canes fan and UM graduate.  

Florida International University Baseball Stadium

Of all the sports teams that Florida International University fields, its Panthers baseball team is arguably the most successful, having reached post-season play one out of every three years, on average. The team practices and plays all of its home games in a state-of-the-art stadium that accommodates 2000 Panthers fans. Until recently, however, the stadium’s sound reinforcement system lagged behind its other features, a situation that was remedied by local AV integration firm Midtown Video. Based on the buzz about Danley Sound Labs’ innovative loudspeaker technologies for sports complexes and the recommendation of a trusted local rep, Midtown Video installed its first Danley system at the FIU baseball stadium. Everyone involved is abundantly pleased with the results.

“The old system consisted of six horns that did not sound great and really tore into the VIP area nearest to home plate,” explained Rafael De Cardenas, Project Manager with Midtown Video. Jesse Miller, Chief Technical Officer with Midtown Video, was responsible for designing a system that would fit the constraints of the stadium and stand up to Miami’s humid and stormy climate… all while sounding pleasant and impactful. “I know Danley to be an excellent manufacturer for large venues, and another integration firm that I respect successfully installed one of their systems at the FIU football stadium,” Miller said. “On top of that, our sales rep from Bencsik Associates, Jon Ferren, recommended we look into a Danley system for FIU baseball. It seemed like a good opportunity to try our hand with Danley.”

Miller designed and De Cardenas managed the installation of a professional audio system consisting of six weather-resistant loudspeakers powered by an eight-channel DNA 10k8 PRO amplifier, delivering 1250W per channel. One SM-80 sits atop the center press box, two levels above the field, firing down on the seats behind home plate and the field itself. Two OS-80 loudspeakers, each far from the SM-80 and also mounted on the roof, cover the seating on the first- and third-base sides. Finally, three GO2-8CX loudspeakers fire down into the VIP crowd section and adjoining corners.

Inputs to the system include announcement mics, wireless field mics, and a novel custom line-level transmission system that allows coaches to play music from their phones from anywhere on the field, in the stands, or in the dugouts. BSS Soundweb processing brings the inputs together and provides the means for a simple interface that allows non-technical users to intuitively change individual input volumes.

“The Danley system is crystal clear, and the dispersion pattern is exactly as advertised,” Miller reported. “We were able to create volume zones that provide approximately equal SPL across the seating, while still providing respectable coverage on the field.” De Cardenas added, “The old horns and the new Danley boxes are a night and day comparison. It was truly stunning to hear that kind of musical sound quality in a stadium setting. Our jaws were on the ground!”

Germain Arena, Estero, FL

jrblades

So, here’s something that might surprise you: The Eastern Conference Hockey League, Florida Everblades have been competing and winning titles on the ice in Estero, FL since 1998. More than 3.6 million fans have attended over 640 regular season games at the Germain Arena.  This fall, they called on Midtown Video to upgrade the video production system with HD switching, streaming, and live slow-motion replay featuring the NewTek TriCaster and 3Play.

The Germain Arena features 7 cameras to capture the action including a wireless camera for crowd reactions and a pair of goal cameras for thrilling highlights and official reviews.

bladesvslynx020808a_0035

The Everblades’ 3 action cameras are capable of transmitting High Definition signals, but the previous control system and cable infrastructure limited all signals to analog composite SD.  Midtown Video unlocked the HDMI output of the action cameras and helped Germain implement fiber optic cabling for the HD upgrade. Fiber cables have the capacity to carry an HD signal for miles, and transfer up to 1 petabyte of data per second at the speed of light in glass.

To stretch the control room budget, Midtown expanded the 4-input TriCaster 460 with an AJA Kumo router, allowing up to 16 sources to populate the TriCaster with a simple right-click of the mouse.  The legacy cameras and fiber optic HD cameras are enhanced by an army of rack-mounted Blackmagic converters to enter the Kumo as a mix of SD and HD-SDI signals.

germaine-4436-cropped

As part of the system upgrade, Germain Arena’s Manager of Video and Creative Services Mark McClellan and his team received comprehensive onsite training by our Director of Technical Services and certified NewTek trainer, Virge Castillo.

germaine-arena

Nestled in a suburb of tropical Ft Myers, this 8,284-seat multipurpose arena hosts a wide variety of choice entertainment and sporting events such as concerts, comedians, boxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, and even circuses. When there aren’t three sheets of ice covering the rink, the 2012 ECHL Champion Florida Everblades share the arena with the Florida Tarpons, an American Indoor Football championship team. We are expecting another winning season for the Everblades and spectacular video coverage for all the events at Germain Arena.