James Raymond of Napa Valley TV works with high school students on the broadcast of a school football game.
NAPA, Calif. - Imagine a 6,400-seat sports stadium complete with a grand entrance, press boxes and concession areas. Now imagine that stadium on game day, excitement in the air, fans eager to see their favorites teams go head to head.
This was the scene in November 2013, as the Vintage and Napa High School Football teams took the field at Memorial Stadium in Napa, Calif.. What made that day special for the local community was the fact that the match was the first live multicamera sports broadcast in Napa County’s history, airing on the community’s local public access cable television network, Napa Valley TV.
Since the late 1980s, NVTV has serviced the county of Napa, providing public access, education and government programming to approximately 25,000 households across the communities of Napa, St. Helena, American Canyon and Yountville. In addition to offering group training classes to schools through a partnership with the Napa Valley Unified School District, as well as “Boot Camp” classes in the summer, any member who lives or works within the county has the ability to take monthly production training classes. All in all, NVTV trains an average of 400 residents and students a year.
Because of its commitment to the local community, NVTV has maintained its studio, control room and equipment, making upgrades whenever possible. In 2011, the channel made the switch to a completely digital workflow both in the studio and field. In 2013, it made the transition from SD to HD live switching, and achieved one of its biggest milestones to date: Napa County's first live, multicamera sports broadcast.
And at the heart of that event was NVTV’s flypack, consisting of Blackmagic Design’s Atem Production Studio 4K live production switcher, SmartScope Duo professional waveform monitor, HyperDeck Studio Pro SSD recorder, H.264 Pro Recorder and Mini Converters for HDMI-to-SDI and SDI- to-analog conversion.
CREATING A SYNERGISTIC WORKFLOW
“Prior to implementing the Blackmagic Design flypack, we used standard-definition live switching equipment,”said James Raymond, executive director of Napa Valley TV.“However, we wanted a more synergistic live production HD workflow, making it easy to set up, operate and teardown.
NVTV's production flypack is anchored by a Blackmagic Design Atem Production Studio 4K switcher.
“Blackmagic Design delivered. It was all about the features provided, coupled with the affordable cost and the size of the equipment. Everything was very compact and powerful. I was immediately impressed with the products and the price points.”
According to Raymond, simplicity and functionality were the main goals when creating the Blackmagic Design-based live-production workflow. Now, NVTV benefits from having a complete multicamera production set up in virtually any off-site location within an hour.
Atem Production Studio 4K acts as the brain of the flypack and provides connections for up to eight SD, HD or UltraHD 4K video cameras, disk recorders and computers. Features include chroma key, transitions, media pool, downstream keyers, audio mixer, multiviewer and 6G-SDI and HDMI 4K video connections. The team switches from a laptop running the Atem Software Control Panel, which further saves on space and cost.
“We have the Atem’s multiviewer HDMI output sent to an external computer monitor so we can easily see all of our camera feeds, which is extremely helpful,” said Raymond. “I also really appreciate the Atem’s input preview. It's nice to have a small screen and the ability to call up each input. This is immensely helpful in troubleshooting to quickly verify an image on screen in the event we have any issues through our production chain.”
During broadcasts in the field, three cameras are connected to the Atem Production Studio 4K via HD-SDI at 1080i or 720P resolution, and sometimes a fourth camera is plugged into an HDMI input. The master output is fed to a HyperDeck Studio Pro SSD recorder, along with an HDMI feed as backup.
The master output is then fed from the HyperDeck Studio Pro into Monitor One of the SmartScope Duo, which acts as the program monitor. SmartScope Duo’s second monitor is set as the waveform monitor, so the team has a live scope during production. SmartScope Duo provides independent waveform monitoring, so NVTV can select among waveform, vectorscope, RGB parade, YUV parade, histogram and audio phase level displays. Each monitor is independent and can display any combination of scope or picture view.
During events, the team runs HDMI out from HyperDeck Studio Pro to a rack mounted streaming server, which sends the signal to the station headquarters for live broadcast. One of the outputs is also fed into a streaming video unit for live streaming on NVTV’s website.
NVTV also runs an output from Atem Production Studio 4K to an H.264 Pro Recorder, which is hooked up via USB to the laptop.
“The H.264 Pro Recorder works seamlessly as a backup recorder, which records via H.264 file encoding into the laptop,” Raymond said. “We simultaneously record to the H.264 Pro Recorder as we record to our HyperDeck Studio Pro.
“We use the HyperDeck Studio Pro for any taped playbacks that will be aired at a later date. Once we are done recording any non-live events, we import the raw footage back at the station and make any edits. Then we export and upload it to our file server and schedule for playback at a later time. The HyperDeck’s SSD recording is great and saves us time. We simply plug the drive into the computer and start editing.”
Now, NVTV uses the Blackmagic Design flypack for all offsite multicamera productions, from non-profit gala fundraising events and forums to sporting and community events.NVTV plans to increase its coverage of high school sports to include weekly high school football, soccer, basketball and other various games run by local students.
“Blackmagic Design has provided a cost effective solution for all of our offsite productions. The simplicity makes it easy to use and effective,” Raymond said. “The Atem Production Studio 4K’s resolution provides crystal clean HD images, and I love the output capability of the unit. Allowing HDMI, SDI, loop throughs and more mean we have multiple outputs and no need for HD-SDI distribution amps. And the 6G-SDI and 4K HDMI connections mean we are future proofing our workflow for UltraHD when we are ready.”