Trail Blazers Upgrade In-House Video With Diversified Systems

The Portland Trail Blazers NBA franchise was one of the first in sports to bring its broadcast operations completely in-house, and, this year, that house received a major upgrade. With the help of Diversified Systems, the Trail Blazers upgraded their “High Post” facility — from which they produce pre-game, post-game, and halftime shows — to full HD and 5.1 surround sound.

“We’re a little bit different from some sports teams that hand somebody else the keys to the production,” says Mike Janes, director of engineering and technical operations for the Trail Blazers. “We actually do the driving. We produce and deliver completed programming to our over-the-air partners as well as Comcast SportsNet.”

Those partners include Comcast SportsNet Northwest and an affiliate network of over-the-air stations in Oregon, California, and Washington.

High and Low
The Trail Blazers produce all of their content from two production facilities in the Rose Garden Arena. (The team also uses mobile-production trucks to support the on-court action, provided mainly by Mira Mobile.) The “Low Post” facility is a small control room that houses all elements of the scoreboard production. The High Post, the subject of the current renovation with Diversified Systems, is a more traditional television-production facility, originating pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows and weekly magazine shows as well as providing commercial insertion for the telecast.

Rose Quarter Arena has housed broadcast facilities for 15 years, with hybrid fiber-optic cable installed.

“That was very farsighted and kept our cameras working far beyond their practical limits,” Janes points out.

This year, however, it was time for a change. He and his team decided to upgrade the broadcast facility to be fully HD, which involved the addition of HD cameras, a new monitor wall, expanded routing, and a 5.1-capable audio facility, among other changes. Janes decided on Sony HDC1400 cameras, an SSL audio console, Harris routing and processing gear, and EVS servers.

“The monitor wall is all Evertz VIP cards driving LCD monitors,” explains Adam Salkin, engineering manager for Diversified Systems. “The monitoring is equal to what you’d find in a production truck. We used two rows of 11 24-in. LCD monitors for this project, and, with two separate dual quad splits, we can simultaneously monitor 124 sources. It looks quite impressive.”

Familiar Territory
Because Diversified Systems was also the integrator on the Low Post control room, Salkin’s team was able to avoid many of the challenges usually involved in a project that must integrate into an existing system.

“We had all of the drawings of the Low Post system,” he says. “Very often, when you’re building out a facility, you don’t have that luxury; the documentation either doesn’t exist or is very weak. That is one thing that was not a problem on this particular job.”

The biggest challenge in this project was the timeline.

“We began the design in April, we pretty much had equipment done by the first of June, and we needed to be done by Sept. 27, in time for the season,” Janes explains. “That’s pretty tight. The manufacturers have all stepped up in terms of getting us delivery, because most of the gear now is built to order.”

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