Growing expectations from fans have put pressure on arenas to greatly enhance
the visitor experience both before the game and during breaks the name of the game
is entertainment. To this end, it is important to provide more than just replays of goals
and baskets between periods. The mandate for Staples Center was to be able to produce a
high-energy live show during a game, including the ability to go down into the crowd with
roving camera and talent and do fan interviews and contest segments live to the display
boards. The result is that a modern video control room in an arena must grown from the
very basic systems installed a few years ago to a sophisticated live production facility.
The challenge, as with all live broadcast production, is to provide a sophisticated set of
sources and effects that can all be operated quickly and easily in a live to
air environment. The producers and directors need to be able to continuously change
the look of the displays, while being able to rapidly assemble highlights from play that
has just ended, interspersed with appropriate archival material often in only a few
While video tape must still be used (we specified two digital VTRs in addition to
BETACAM SP and S-VHS legacy decks), we decided that the bulk of the storage and playback
would be from hard disk.
At the time of designing the control room for Staples Center, the industry was at a
crossroads with analog, digital, and HDTV all as possible directions. While many arenas
were still installing and operating analog technology at this time, we felt that a new
analog installation would be virtually obsolete within two years and, therefore, made the
decision to go digital. We opted for SDI (SMPTE 259M at 270 Mb/S) rather than HDTV due to
both cost and practicality the output of the room will never be broadcast, and the
resolution of the center LED video displays is a little less than 640 x 480. The only
analog signals are inputs and outputs to two analog VTRs (to support legacy tape
formats) and the wireless camera system. Even the Triax camera CCUs are equipped
with SDI outputs.
further tried to future-proof the design by ensuring that the bulk of the processing and
storage equipment was 16:9 compatible, and that the cameras and monitors were all 4:3/16:9
switchable wherever practical. The Ross production switcher has a built-in aspect ratio
converter that will allow mixing of formats and scaling the final output to a 16:9 format.
Since the center screens are 4:3 displays, the switcher can fill in the blanked horizontal
strip with graphics (typically advertisements).
The principal function of the room is to produce live clips during games for viewing on
the jumbo display screens that are hung in the center of the arena. These clips will
generally consist of live interviews from the floor, game replays, game highlights, and
advertisements. The display screens are mounted on four sides of an eight-sided
scoreboard, and consist of Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LEDer displays. Each is about
15 x 12, has a brightness of 2,400 Nit, a dot pitch of 8mm, and a resolution
of about 576 x 480.
An auxiliary function of this room is to generate content for display on five in-house
CATV channels (for display on concourse monitors and in the suites), as well as three
additional LED display screens (one in each of two main lobbies and one on the outside of
The final function of this room is to provide basic non-linear editing to produce
highlight reels, etc.
All video signals within the control room are SDI (serial digital), except
for monitoring and the input/output connections to two analog VTR's (for legacy
compatibility). External camera, video, and audio signals from the central patch room are
distributed to a set of ten equipment racks via an overhead cable tray system. All cable
distribution from the equipment racks to the equipment consoles and monitor wall is via a
raised computer floor system. A 26-monitor monitor wall and custom operator consoles were
provided for production staff.
The heart of the system is a Ross
Synergy digital production switcher. This switcher has a number of unique features
including: Squeeze and Tease (a 2-D DVE built into each bus); a built-in
aspect ratio converter that allows seamless switching and mixing of 4:3 and 16:9 signals,
with the output of the switcher being in either format; and very tight control and
integration with the Pinnacle DVExtreme so that DVE moves can be operated from the
switcher joystick, programmed into console macros, and layered with the internal T&S
key system is the clips/replay package from Dixon Sports Computing. This consists of four channels of Leitch VR-300 video servers with a
central storage array controlled by a custom software application running under Windows
NT. This application allows one operator to capture and log up to four active camera feeds
live during a game. This material is available instantly for replay recording can
continue while replay is in progress. Clips are automatically entered into a database, and
collections of clips based on various parameters (player number, type of play, ranking,
etc.) can be instantly assembled for air.