Blackmagic Design Gear Powers USA Softball GOLD National Championships Live-Streaming Production
GlobeStream Media live streamed USA Softball’s GOLD National Championships using a variety of Blackmagic Design products – including URSA Broadcast cameras and an ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K live production switcher – to capture more than 500 hours of fiber channel broadcasts across nine softball fields.
Held at the Heritage Yards softball complex in Plano, Texas, the six day long tournament featured more than 70 softball teams from across the United States competing in both the 18 and under (18u) and 16 and under (16u) age divisions. GlobeStream Media, a Texas-based global provider of broadcast live streaming production services, used a full range of Blackmagic Design products to live stream 247 softball games over the course of the tournament.
The complete Blackmagic Design workflow included URSA Broadcasts and Micro Studio Camera 4K; Blackmagic Camera Fiber Converters and Blackmagic Studio Fiber Converters; ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K and ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K; ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel and ATEM Camera Control Panel; Smart Videohub routers; HyperDeck Studio Mini and HyperDeck Studio Pro recorders; SmartScope Duo and SmartView 4K monitors; Teranex Mini Audio to SDI converters; Blackmagic Audio Monitor; MultiView 4; and DeckLink capture and playback cards, including DeckLink 8K Pro.
To stream individual games during pool play and early bracket rounds, GlobeStream Media relied on a Micro Studio Camera 4K mounted behind home plate.
“When USA Softball and the City of Plano approached us about live streaming the tournament, one of the initial discussions was about where the cameras were going to be,” explains President and Cofounder of GlobeStream Media Brett Casadonte. “On each of the nine softball fields at Heritage Yards, they wanted a single camera mounted on the backstop to provide an elevated wide shot of the field from behind home plate. We knew right away that the camera needed to be small and lightweight, yet still provide a high quality image, so our attention immediately turned to the Micro Studio Camera 4K.”
For each division’s consolation and championship games, GlobeStream Media switched to a four camera setup, using three URSA Broadcasts with Camera Fiber Converters and Studio Fiber Converters to capture the action, along with the Micro Studio Camera 4K.
“We went with Blackmagic Design cameras because first and foremost, they produce a very good quality image. Equally import, however, is workflow. Using the Camera Fiber Converters and Studio Fiber Converters, we were able to take a standard SMPTE fiber cable and deliver camera control, tally and talkback, plus power and return program feed to our camera operators over a single cable,” notes Casadonte. “The time and cost savings in setup were tremendous and allowed us to easily convert a softball field setup for a single camera live stream in the morning to a four camera multi cam broadcast in the afternoon. If we had to run separate power cables, XLR cables for crew comms, tally cables and a pair of SDI cables for video in and out, the conversion simply wouldn’t have been possible.”
Temperatures were also top of mind for Casadonte, with Texas summers known for their heat.
“Whatever cameras we used for this production quite literally had to be able to take the heat,” says Casadonte. “They had to run for 10 to 12 hours straight each day in 95ºF and above temperatures. The build quality and reliability of Blackmagic Design’s cameras gave us confidence that the Micro Studio Camera 4K could be the workhorse camera we needed and wouldn’t wilt in the hot Texas sun.”
For the rest of its live streaming setup, GlobeStream Media connected the Studio Fiber Converters to a Smart Videohub 20×20 that sent the camera feeds to an ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K for switching. The team also relied on a SmartView 4K, HyperDeck Studio Minis for recording primary and backup versions of the program, SmartScope Duo for signal monitoring, ATEM Camera Control Panel to manage color for the cameras, and several DeckLinks.
“ATEM switchers have been a mainstay on all of our productions, and it’s not a stretch to say we’ve built our business on them. When the ATEM Camera Control Panel came out, it was a great addition that made outdoor live sporting events so much easier,” says Casadonte. “With it, we’re quickly able to fine tune color and exposure on our cameras so that the look is consistent and seamless across our production.”
With consolation and championship games for each age division taking place simultaneously on two fields, GlobeStream Media relied on an ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K, ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, Smart Videohub 40×40, SmartScope Duo, HyperDeck Studio Minis, HyperDeck Studio Pros, MultiView 4, Teranex Minis Audio to SDI and a Blackmagic Audio Monitor.
“What really sets Blackmagic Design apart from other solutions is its holistic approach to production,” notes Casadonte. “When you make the full range of products from cameras to switchers, you’re able to create solutions that are greater than the sum of their parts. Blackmagic Design has created an integrated production workflow that is not only straight forward, easy to setup and fun to work with, but more importantly, allows us to get the job done efficiently and cost effectively.
“The Blackmagic Design broadcast ecosystem, with built in tally, talkback, and camera control capabilities; integrated standards conversion; and intuitive, easy to use software makes broadcast productions truly plug and play. That was critical for us during this tournament because we only had a few short hours on the last day of the tournament to convert a softball field from a single camera live stream for semifinal matches in the morning, to a multi cam broadcast setup for consolation games and the championships in the late afternoon. With Blackmagic Design, we were easily able to pull it off,” concluded Casadonte. “There are no do overs in live production, so you really need to have gear that is rock solid, reliable and that you trust to deliver time and time again.”