Hammond Communications Taps BirdDog P200 PTZ For NCAA March Madness Press Conferences

Following within the NCAA’s COVID guidelines Hammond Communications delivered over 500 press conferences and more than 100 hours of content during the 2021 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Hammond Communications utilized BirdDog P200 PTZ cameras for this cavalcade of interviews to ensure high quality while maintaining social distance.

The press conferences production operated out of a centralized media production room, which serviced several “interview pods” to maintain appropriate distance from players and coaches. These services were provided to support the NCAA’s March Madness Bubble approach to conducting the events at 11 playing venues across Texas and Indiana.

Hammond Communications chose the BirdDog P200 after consulting with Prusik Media and finding their success with UFC’s Watch Party and the support delivered by the BirdDog Team. The BirdDog P200, is a full NDI 1080p60 PTZ camera that combines BirdDog’s custom NDI silicon chip, 30x optical zoom, and Sony backlit sensor and image module. The P200 allows for simultaneous live SDI, HDMI, and full NDI outputs.

The production used multiple output methods from the P200, NDI for remote control and monitoring via Studio Monitor while using SDI for 1080i59.94 for media distribution and recording. With press conferences moving into smaller rooms, the PTZs allowed the press team to move into a much smaller equipment footprint, shifting from the traditional dais and riser press format to the P200s mounted above a 42-inch television hosting the virtual Zoom Press Room in order to connect the members of the media directly to the coaches and student athletes. Multiple 75 inch 4k displays were also deployed as backdrops to complete the press pod.

All press conferences were recorded on HyperDeck Studio Minis and transmitted at 1080i59.94 to Turner / CBS for network content and expanded coverage, to PSSI for satellite transmission via KU Uplink to off-site affiliates covering the participating teams, as well as to streaming services for a multi-faceted approach to media delivery. The ease of use of the cameras and web control panel allowed for a fast paced onboarding of crew onto this new format.

Hammond Communications has a long standing relationship with the NCAA dating back to 1985 when the company introduced the pool feed approach to the Final Four taking place at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. Hammond’s adapted knowledge from past tournaments allowed the production team to easily integrate the COVID safe system into this year’s model.

The response from the NCAA was positive for delivering the COVID safe press conference and continuing to involve the media as if it were a standard tournament year.

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