X Games Live: NewTek Doubles Up on TriCasters for Video Board, Streaming Productions
NewTek’s TriCaster has a two-fold presence at Summer X Games this year, producing video-board shows for the outdoor venues at L.A. Live as well as ESPN’s live companion Webcast. However, the most notable difference this year is not in the quantity of video being produced with the TriCaster but rather the HD quality.
“This is our third X Games, but it’s the first year that it’s been fully HD,” says NewTek SVP of Strategic Development Philip Nelson. “It’s a fully HD pipeline and workflow, which is huge. If you look at the quality on the screens here, it’s not even a comparison [to the previous SD].”
NewTek has set up a central control room near the Street & Park Event Deck, where two adjacent TriCaster 850 Extreme HD systems are producing the video board shows and the Webcast concurrently.
X on the Video Boards
The TriCaster 850 Extreme, along with its external control surface, drives the video-board shows for both the Street & Park Event Deck and Lot 7 (site of the Big Air and Rally Car events), taking in up to eight simultaneous video inputs from ESPN’s primary production. The in-venue Staples Center and Nokia Theater are produced in their respective control rooms.
In addition to the TriCaster, the video-board operation uses a NewTek 3Play multichannel HD replay system and a NewTek LiveText character generator.
The setup is a miniaturized version of a traditional front bench, with a director/producer calling cameras and monitoring the two primary monitors, while a technical director operates the TriCaster’s 850 CS control surface. An additional operator runs the LiveText CG.
Both the video board and Webcast teams have access to an EVS server on hand at the TriCaster control room. In addition, the two shows share a single engineer, who shades cameras for both shows.
X on the Web
ESPN’s on-site Webcast, being produced by Boombox Productions, features a similar setup to the video-board show but does not include a 3Play system. The live Inside X Webcast, hosted by Brandon Graham, features athlete chats, daily preview and recap shows, competition highlights, and course overviews.
In addition to a hard camera on the primary-host set at L.A. Live, the production has deployed a roaming wireless handheld for live interviews as well as a handful of ENG cameras for event preview/recap packages.
In addition to the daily Inside X Webcast, ESPN will stream a special live Webcast, dubbed X Cast, on Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. ET as part of its ESPN Everywhere initiative. Hosted by Kier Dillon, X Cast will feature live original content from L.A. Live, athlete interviews with viewer questions submitted through Facebook and Twitter, head-judge commentary, and live chats with ESPN X Games analysts. This will be available on the Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
“We are encoding two things: a stream for YouTube Live directly in the TriCaster and then Livestream is taking an SDI output out of the TriCaster to their own encoder box,” says Nelson. “So we can stream to two places at once.”
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