CEI Brings HD to FedEx Field

Communications Engineering Inc. has been supporting the Washington Redskins’ control room at FedEx Field since it was built, and the company will spend this summer upgrading and expanding it, along with the stadium infrastructure. By the start of the football season this fall, Redskins fans will enjoy a fully hi-def stadium experience, complete with HD programming shown on new LED displays and Daktronics video boards throughout the stadium.

“The Redskins wanted to put a better show out there on the video displays,” says Frank Giliotti, VP of technical services for CEI. “To do that, we had to upgrade the equipment and give them better equipment that would give them the tools to do so.”

With the exception of minor upgrades to the switcher, router, and replay system in 2008, the control room hasn’t been upgraded since it was built 12 years ago. Turning that facility into an HD-ready workspace requires a complete retrofit of the facility.

“Integrating an HD control room into a 12-year-old facility where the rest of the facility is not HD-capable is a challenge,” notes Matt Weiss, senior managing engineer for CEI. “We’re upgrading everything within the facility in order to be able to do HD everywhere.”

CEI worked with the Redskins to determine a budget and set about choosing equipment. Not only will the new facility be able to receive and record video and audio feeds directly from production trucks, but it will be able to receive video signals from a dedicated replay system, cameras, and other external audio and video sources. As part of the project, truck-dock connectivity will be upgraded to fully fiber-optic.

The key components of the project include upgraded Apple edit system; a Click Effects multichannel HD clip-server system; upgraded EVS slow-motion–video system; an Evertz multiviewer system; a GMS wireless camera system; Grass Valley servers; Harris video-routing equipment; Image Video tally system; Tektronix video monitors; Wohler audio monitors; new operating consoles; and LG and Planar HD displays. Sony HD cameras will be used with Fujinon lenses, along with Sony HD video-recording and -playback equipment. The Ross production switcher will be upgraded as well.

“We were able to build this facility with no corners cut,” Weiss says. “The Redskins were willing to pay to do this room right without cutting anything that would degrade the fan experience.”

CEI is responsible for all aspects of the HD upgrade, including project management, space planning, final design, equipment procurement, systems integration, interfacing with the Daktronics video boards and data processors, installation, testing, and training.

“Not only are we redoing the whole electronic part of the control room, but the whole space is being gutted and renovated,” Giliotti says. “We designed that part of it as well, from the raised floor and lighting to new A/C and power distribution.”

CEI has provided game-day engineering support for the broadcast and audio/video systems at FedEx Field for years and will continue to do so through this upgrade. The project is expected to be complete by late summer.

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