Game Creek Video’s Yogi Brings YES Network Into IP Era
Massive unit will operate in dual-feed mode for home games, handle Fox Sports World Series coverage
For Yankee fans, there can be only one Yogi (no offense to Jellystone National Park residents), and the YES Network is giving the Yankee legend a year-round tribute: Yogi, its new 4K production truck from Game Creek Video comes with pinstripes and a cutting-edge infrastructure that will serve the YES Network and Fox Sports well into the future via its IP implementation.
“Yogi is our second IP effort after Encore two years ago,” says Jason Taubman, VP, design and new technology, Game Creek Video. “And, like Encore, it is IP for capacity’s sake: we have 12 12-channel EVS units, need to support dual-feed operation, and can do a World Series-level production and operate in 4K. That really pushed baseband routing over the cliff. We can also see the light at the end of the tunnel with the SMPTE 2110 standard that will allow edge devices to natively support IP. I feel like we will be living in a fully IP world pretty rapidly.”
Yogi comprises two 53-ft. expando units: an A unit with a recommended work area of 64 x 24 ft. and a B unit with 72 x 19 ft. The two units will bring something new to Yankee Stadium as well: the ability for the YES Network and a visiting Fox regional network to work together, the YES Network calling the A unit home for its productions and the visiting network in the B unit.
The A unit features a Grass Valley Kayenne K-Frame production switcher, a Calrec Apollo audio console, a Boland monitor wall, and Evertz multiviewers. There is also a video-shading area for four operators and support for up to 20 Sony HDC-4300 cameras operating in 4K mode.
“We changed the replay area in the A unit a bit. It will have 12 12-channel EVS XT4’s, an upgrade from six-channel EVS units. That gives it a lot of replay horsepower.”
Each EVS server will be able to have two operators, each operating independently.
“We are also using the IHSE KVM system,” says Taubman. “That allows us to put replay-server controls wherever we need them to go.
Fiber connectivity will play a big role, enabling the A and B units to be tethered to each other in about 10 minutes.
The B Unit Packs Punch
“The B unit is a big sandbox with a big monitor wall for production, a second Grass Valley K-Frame production switcher, and a Calrec Brio 64-channel audio console that is connected via Calrec Hydra2 to the mothership,” says Taubman. “The promise of Brio with the Hydra2 integration is that all the audio resources and associated I/O with the other desk is available. Hydra2 makes it more dynamic.”
The B unit has an engineering area that can handle another 12RU of gear, and a small video-shading area. RTS intercoms are in use in both trucks, and Taubman says the use of Omneo and Dante IP-based routing makes the intercom capabilities pretty slick.
“We also jettisoned analog audio monitors,” he adds, “which allows us to reduce the infrastructure, as all of the analog patchfields and wires have gone away.”
Yogi’s first event was on March 20 at TD Garden in Boston. It then went down to Florida so that YES Network could kick some tires during New York Yankees Spring Training games. The unit is now in Martinsville, TN, for a 4K NASCAR production that will be seen on FS1 via DirecTV. Its first Yankees game will be on April 10 at Yankee Stadium, and then Yogi will be used for all Yankee home games, away games that are within reach, the MLB All-Star Game in Miami, and the postseason.
According to Taubman, the B unit will be home to Fox regional sports networks when they visit Yankee Stadium, and then it will convert to an overflow unit for Fox Sports’ coverage of the MLB Playoffs.
Mike Webb, VP, broadcast operations, YES Network, notes that he and his team were involved from the very early stages of the project and are more than happy with the way things turned out. The truck also ushers in a new era for the YES Network: not only does it have a production facility that can do 4K from day one, but the B unit has been designed to allow true dual-feed operation so that visiting Fox networks can call it home.
“Game Creek did a nice job on the dual-feed portion of the truck,” says Webb. “They knocked it out of the park.”
He adds that the YES Network will always operate out of the A unit (as usual) and the B unit will make life easier when it comes to dual-feed operations because both networks will be on the same EVS network.
“Their operators will have access to everything we do, so it is simply ‘go get it and have a nice day,’” he says. “The production switcher is pretty much a full switcher that is tied to the mix effects on our switcher. And the Calrec Brio in the B unit is tied to our audio console.”
Webb notes that the biggest improvement to the YES broadcasts is the addition of the Sony HDC-4300 cameras. Three of them are licensed for high-speed needs: two recording at 360 fps and one at 480 fps. And, because the cameras are now all the same model, it will be easier to match color across the entire camera complement.
“We played with the 480-fps 8X camera eight times [during Spring Training],” he points out. “It is really cool as it allows the producer and operator to ramp the frame rate up and down so they can slow things down as the ball gets closer to the tip of the glove. We will ship that 8X unit around for all of our games, and the two 6X cameras will be used at our home games.”
Another change is on the audio side. The YES Network will leave Dolby E behind and embrace embedded audio for everything. And the Evertz IP router gives the team more flexibility because they can easily move signals around on the fly.
The YES Network won’t be the only network to call Yogi home. It will also be home to Fox Sports’ MLB All-Star Game coverage as well as to some of the playoff and World Series coverage.
“This was the first collaboration we had with Webb and YES to co-build a truck, and it went really well. We are super-impressed with it as it looks great and feels good,” says Brad Cheney, director of technical operations, Fox Sports Media Group, who is with the truck this weekend for a 4K production of a NASCAR race in Martinsville, TN. “The B unit is a really spacious control room and gives us a lot of flexibility for our postseason coverage, where we can use it to expand replay operations.”
The Game Creek Video integration team is hard at work finishing up two additional trucks. Edit 3, a carbon copy of the Edit 2 unit, will hit the road soon with Riverhawk for MLB Network’s 4K coverage. And the B2 unit has been revamped and will join Chesapeake for MASN pre/postgame coverage. Oh, and Maverick and Riverhawk recently returned home to be outfitted for 4K productions via expanded Evertz routers and Grass Valley K-Frame production switchers.