VIDEO BOARD CONTROL ROOM ST 2110 UPGRADE

TypeSPORTS VENUE PRODUCTION FACILITY
Date of CompletionSEPTEMBER 2022
CapabilityEIGHT-CAMERA
ClientUniversity of Minnesota
Sports Venue Production Facility | University of Minnesota.
Copyright - © Brad Rempel/University of Minnesota

In partnership with its video production arm, Gopher Digital Productions (GDP), the University of Minnesota’s athletics department wished to undertake an ST 2110 upgrade and expansion of the video board control room at its Huntington Bank Stadium.

The ST 2110 upgrade would enable GDP to leverage the new IP infrastructure to achieve both greater capacity and flexibility, and to deliver connectivity to remote camera positions within the stadium, while also integrating with the existing technical operations centre (TOC) without the need for any physical expansion.

Alongside eight new camera channels with upgrade paths right up to upconverted UHD and HDR, the IP implementation would give UMN’s team the functionality and flexibility needed to future-proof the stadium’s broadcast capability for years to come.

WORKING WITH AN EXPERIENCED COLLEGIATE SPORTS PRODUCTION TEAM

Named after UMN’s sports teams, the Golden Gophers, GDP is responsible for all in-venue video board operations at stadia across the university campus. This includes Williams Arena (basketball), 3M Arena at Mariucci and Ridder Arena (hockey), Maturi Pavilion (volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling), Jane Sage Cowles Stadium (softball), Siebert Field (baseball), Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium (soccer), and the jewel in the crown, the 50,000 capacity Huntington Bank Stadium, home to UMN’s football team.

GDP is also responsible for collegiate sports channel the Big Ten Network’s student presence on campus, and produces all on-demand video content for the athletics department website  GopherSports.com, the Gophers’ official YouTube channel, and other outlets.

Following a competitive tender process involving several broadcast systems integrators, ES Broadcast was awarded the contract to undertake the control room upgrade.

With the UMN and GDP technical team having lived and breathed the ST 2110 upgrade project for more than a year, close collaboration with their stakeholders was essential to ES Broadcast’s engineering design team gaining a clear understanding of project requirements and deliverables, building on those outlined in the initial tender brief.

From this, technology recommendations were made and agreed, factoring in not only core technical functionality but also future needs, as well as budget.

CREATING A HYBRID IP/SDI BROADCAST ECOSYSTEM WITHIN HUNTINGTON BANK STADIUM

The key challenge of the upgrade was to unite disparate analog and digital elements, as well as SDI and IP elements, in one unified and centralized ecosystem.

To achieve this, an Imagine Communications Platinum routing system was chosen. As well as comprehensively delivering the hybrid SDI/IP functionality the UMN team needed, the choice of router ensured continuity and familiarity for existing operators within the department, who had worked with an Imagine system before. By refreshing to a new generation of hardware in the same family, the team’s learning curve to master the new system was greatly reduced.

ES Broadcast’s engineering team added embedded SDI audio, MADI, and DANTE functionality to the router platform. This allowed for easier expansion and integration to other systems that were limited by the pre-existing analog infrastructure. Equipment that was being retained was reconfigured at this stage to ensure it would work within the new environment and to expand the capabilities of legacy systems that would still be present post-upgrade.

The design utilized the Platinum SX-Pro Multiviewer inside the Platinum router frame to provide an efficient way to accomplish the solution requirements while also minimizing the rack space required. Meanwhile, new high-density patch bays were installed to wrap the router I/O as specified, with the bays designed to allow for future expansion.

IP AND SDI CONNECTIVITY UPGRADED THROUGHOUT VENUE AS PART OF ST 2110 UPGRADE

Enhanced connectivity throughout the stadium was also essential, both with all new and retained hardware, and with the new camera channels which would be installed.

Imagine Communications Selenio Network Processors (SNPs) were selected to meet the specification of the control room build. Adept at bridging hybrid SDI/IP environments, the SNPs provided not only the fiber transport but also the up/down/cross conversion and frame-sync functionality required within the control room.

Imagine Communications’ use of Native 2110 encapsulation and de-encapsulation met both the SMPTE 2110 and fiber conservation requirements. The SNP platform also provided a software-defined field-programmable gate array (FPGA) for additional functionality beyond the specified requirements for remote multiviewers and conversions, with the inclusion of additional software licenses as UMN’s requirements continue to evolve.

Replacement of the existing audio mixers with DANTE-enabled devices provided connection to the new routing solution as well as DANTE-enabled PA systems. The use of embedded audio, MADI, and DANTE replaced most of the previous analog infrastructure, substantially reducing the need for analog audio patching and opening up rack space in the TOC for new hardware as well as for future expansion.

In tandem with the IP infrastructure upgrade, new fiber was installed to expand SDI connectivity within the venue. Careful planning from ES Broadcast’s on-site engineers and consideration given to university facilities ensured minimal impact to the building for the work to be completed outside of the broadcast booths.

USER-FRIENDLINESS A KEY CONSIDERATION IN CHOOSING GRASS VALLEY K-FRAME SWITCHER

A streamlined transition for operators and technical staff onto the new system was of paramount importance to GDP. A Grass Valley ST 2110 K-Frame switcher, with its user-friendly system components, was therefore selected for the upgraded control room at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Grass Valley was also the choice for cameras, in the shape of eight LDX 92 channels, with license options included for 1080p and HDR functionality, in line with GDP’s projected development pathway.

To support the camera systems, SMPTE cabling was provided to accommodate the camera connections to the power inserter. In total, 12 SMPTE 2110 cables of various lengths were installed to accommodate the range of applications covered around the venue. The existing tally system, meanwhile, was reconfigured to interface with new hardware.

IP UPGRADE LAYS FOUNDATIONS FOR FUTURE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS

Since project completion in late 2022, the control room has gone from strength to strength with UMN using it as its master control center for all facilities on campus at athletics events on a weekly basis.

The upgrade has provided the UMN and GDP teams with the additional capacity and flexibility they desired at the outset of the project, while improving their connectivity across the stadium. It places UMN in a strong position to consider future hardware upgrades now that the underlying infrastructure of the facility has been established, and ES Broadcast remains in consultation with UMN around plans for future expansion.

KEY EQUIPMENT

  • Grass Valley LDX 92 camera channels
  • Grass Valley ST-2110 K-Frame production switcher
  • Imagine Communications Platinum routing system
  • Imagine Communications Platinum SX-Pro multiviewer platform
  • Imagine Communications SDNO routing control
  • Imagine Communications SNP IP gateway, frame sync and HDR
  • Arista 100G switch fabric