Iowa High School Begins Sports Coverage Using ‘Granite’ Control Center

Webster City High School in Webster City, Iowa, has begun live coverage of its varsity athletics, which is a new challenge for the student video production facility that had been focused primarily on a weekly newscast.
            WCTV’s 10-15 minute newscast—which has been produced by students for 14 years—is distributed on an internal cable system and a local community access channel, as well as on iTunes and other Interneimgt sites. Its sports production began in late 2012, and the school so far has covered all six of its home girls volleyball matches and is currently shooting boys’ and girls’ home basketball and wrestling contests.
            When the school decided to cover varsity athletics, it also decided to make the transition to full HD production. To make that transition, it selected Broadcast Pix’s Granite 1000 Video Control Center to replace the program’s GlobeCaster switcher and other core SD production equipment.
            The transition occurred in two phases, with the first phase being the purchase of the Granite system, as well as three Canon HD studio cameras and other equipment for the 2010 school year, according to Mark Murphy, director of technology. The second phase added cameras to the gym and connected the control room to the new facility via fiber in time for the 2012 volleyball season. The system will also be used to broadcast concerts, special events and commencement, Murphy said.
            The gym is equipped with three ceiling-mounted Panasonic HD cameras and four wall-mounted cameras. The permanently installed cameras and fiber infrastructure that connects the gym to the control room saves hours of setup and strike time for every event, Murphy said. All cameras are controlled robotically by students using the Granite system, which is in the control room located next to the school’s 400-square-foot studio about 1,100 feet away from the gym.
            The students like the Granite system, particularly the PixButtons, which include built-in displays to show the device icon and file name of a clip or graphic, according to Murphy.  “It’s very easy for them to know what source they’re on and where they’re going,” he said.
            In addition, the high school uses a number of the built-in Fluent workflow tools, and recently began using Fluent Macros for its wrestling coverage. During some tournaments, there is action on three mats simultaneously and a camera covers each mat. A macro creates a split screen to provide footage from each match.
            Murphy says the Granite system has “really helped” with the school’s live coverage of sporting events and dozens of newscasts. “Our production workflow [has] become smoother,” he said. “Technically, the quality is better, and the convenience of an all-in-one package is really a great thing,” he added.

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