Rutgers’ RVision Takes Big Ten Transition in Stride
The Big Ten’s two newest members have done pretty well for themselves, both on the field and off. On the gridiron, the University of Maryland and Rutgers University logged seven wins each and will play in bowl games later this month. In the video-production arena, both have made a smooth transitions as new partners with the Big Ten Network (BTN).
At Rutgers, fiber infrastructure has been laid to connect the university and its athletic venues to BTN’s mothership in Chicago, and gear has been upgraded to take live productions delivered by Rutgers’ RVision team to the next level.
“A lot of it wasn’t that foreign to us,” says Colin Osborne, director of RVision, which has been streaming live events to the Rutgers Athletics Website for some time now. “We were doing a lot, but, with the Big Ten coming in, we knew we had to upgrade. It worked out well because, once we were fibered up and we got the flypack from BTN, our setup now is just seamless.”
Prior to Big Ten realignment, RVision was stuck in a bit of a SD/HD hybrid world, producing many of the program’s Olympic sports in standard definition but shooting them with hi-def cameras. Now event staffs are growing, students are being integrated, and shows are going Full HD with added replay capabilities.
“Rutgers has exceeded our expectations in every area,” says Mark Hulsey, SVP, production/executive producer, BTN. “The amount of time and effort that they have put in has been outstanding. Every event we’ve put on has gone off exactly how we hoped it would.”
RVision works out of two locations, a 20-ft. production trailer that the school owns and a control room located inside the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), the school’s basketball venue.
The trailer is built to meet the standards of BTN’s flypack and includes a NewTek TriCaster 860 production switcher, a NewTek 425 3Play for replay, LiveText (BTN supplies its schools with Photoshop templates to brand on-screen graphics), RTS intercom system, and Clear-Com wireless headsets. For event coverage, R-Vision deploys Sony 350 cameras, Sony HXRNX5U cameras, and a Panasonic HPX-500 that is traditionally used on press conferences.
The control room at the RAC, meanwhile, features a Ross Carbonite production switcher, Ross Xpression for graphics, a NewTek 425 3Play for replay, and Daktronics Show Control.
“These upgrades opened up the opportunities to do a lot of things we couldn’t do previously,” says Osborne. “We were able to stream events now in HD with replay. When it came to Olympic sports, we didn’t have that capability.”
With the expanded capabilities comes the need for more production personnel, opening opportunities for students to work on live shows. This is a bit of a challenge for Osborne, though, because Rutgers does not have broadcasting or production in its academic curriculum.
“That’s been the biggest difference for us, the involvement of the students because we have more positions to fill,” he says, adding that he hopes to implement a training program to get students up to speed more quickly. “Getting students involved and keeping them involved has probably been the toughest part.”
The complete synchronization with BTN truly lies on the newly laid fiber network. Strategically placed fiber locations around campus direct signals straight to BTN in Chicago, some of which are used for “at-home” workflows when BTN comes in to produce such events as men’s and women’s basketball games.
There are fiber drops at High Point Solutions Stadium (football), in the football team room (for press conferences), and in the truck dock at the stadium. BTN also worked with Bexel to build a small studio in a room in the stadium press level where everything can be controlled via IP by BTN from Chicago. All R-Vision’s team needs to do is place lavaliere microphones on talent. The studio can even be powered up from Chicago.