Daktronics Scoreboard, Control Room Built by Twins Fans at Alpha Video Set for Debut
For Andy Price, the Minnesota Twins’ senior director of Broadcasting & Game Presentation, the April 12 home opener at the Twins’ new ballpark, Target Field, will be the first time he and his team will be able to take their 57-ft.-tall x 101-ft.-wide Daktronics HD-X LED scoreboard out for a regular-season spin.
Fans will ooh and ah at seeing their favorite Twins on the massive scoreboard, but Price expects his favorite moment to be something different. “I’m looking forward to the first time we see the reaction of an 8-year-old boy or girl who see themselves on the video screen,” he says. “It’s so different than what we had before.”
Target Field’s new scoreboard-control room came together with the help of system integrator Alpha Video, located right down the road from the stadium (and staffed by enthusiastic Twins fans). Jeff Volk, director, sports and entertainment group, for Alpha Video, headed up an effort that signals a new day for Twins fans in terms of a video and audio experience.
“It’s night and day,” he says. “The Metrodome was very much outdated, and the old video board was a postage stamp compared to the new video board.”
Chris Williams, managing principle at venue designer WJHW, worked with the architects and engineers on getting the control room laid out and describes the new control room as a jewel box.
“The control room is sandwiched in the upper deck, and the highest ceiling is only 7 ft. 3 in. high so it’s a very tight space,” he says. “The good news is, there is plenty of square footage and more frontage to the field so there is a good view of the field.”
The control room is separated into three areas: an equipment/machine room, the main production area, and two Apple Final Cut Pro edit suites.
“We actually have three full editing systems, but we put one on a laptop and loaned it to the coaching staff,” says Price. The system will make it easier than ever for coaches to cut down game video for players and coaches.
In terms of equipment, the Twins’ new video operations include Sony HDC1450 cameras with Canon lenses, two Sony PDW-F700 XDCAM cameras with Nucomm wireless transmitters, a Canon BU45 camera system, six channels of EVS XT slow-motion replay systems with full IP Director implementation, Chyron Hyper X3 character generators, and a Ross Vision 3 production switcher. Evertz router and multiviewer, Sony flat-panel display technology, and a Riedel Artist intercom system are also on hand.
The installation reflects ongoing trends in the venue-control-room industry, Volk notes. “More and more control rooms are moving towards entire tapeless workflows. Target Field will be largely tapeless from ingest and capture.”
Price adds that the EVS system will push content to the Apple editing systems so that highlight packages can quickly be turned around. “The workflow changes how we will look at in-game elements.”
Other trends include improved interoperability of the video-control room to displays. “The production switcher is increasingly becoming what controls everything,” says Volk. “A couple of pushes, and the switching controls the Daktronics processing equipment, making for a tighter show and taking out the element of human error.”
Graphics packages were built by local graphics house Pixel Farm. “They’ve done phenomenal work and built everything from the game open to headshots and fan prompts,” says Price. “They’ve gone above and beyond what we expected.”
Many fans will look forward to the new visuals, but it’s the new sound system that piques his interest. “The one horrible piece in the Metrodome was the sound system,” he says. “And I’m looking forward to hearing it with 40,000 people in the house so that people in every seat can hear clearly.”
Also new is the Daktronics Venus scoreboard control room. “It’s the debut in professional sports, and it has a much improved user interface,” Williams says. “It will give a fresh look to scoreboard systems.”
Broadcasters working from Target Field also will find some enhancements. Triax and fiber cabling to camera positions is standard, and there is room for up to eight production trucks in the parking lot. Unfortunately, there is no roof over the compound.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything better than working with Alpha Video on this project,” adds Price. “There is no doubt they have a great sense of pride in this project, and they’re season-ticket holders, so they will be here to see it in action.”