New Home for Orlando Magic a Technical Marvel
The Orlando Magic took to the hardwood of their new home on Oct. 10 for the first sporting event to be held in the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. For Rick Price, technical operations manager for Orlando Magic Broadcast Services, the preseason game gave him and the team (as well as Harris Broadcast and other key technical providers) a chance to start the shakeout process and begin to fulfill the promise of the building.
“This building is about sponsorship opportunities and fan experience,” says Price. “And, with an LED Daktronics technology package on the building and the uniqueness of the center-hung scoreboard, it achieves both of those goals.”
Also helping in those efforts are more than 1,100 flat-screen HDTV sets throughout the building that are all independently addressable, courtesy of Harris Broadcast’s InfoCaster digital-signage system.
From a technical standpoint, Harris Broadcast was the system integrator, with installation of the digital-signage system handled by Professional Communications Systems (PCS) and the control room and scoreboard system put together by Diversified Systems. Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams Inc. (WJHW) was on board as an audio/ visual/sound consultant.
Their work over the past three years has transformed both the fan’s and broadcaster’s experience from the old Amway Arena (built in 1989) to one with all of the niceties. Local broadcasters, for example, can easily plug their cameras into signal-transport boxes around the arena. And the truck parking area is large enough to handle NBA All-Star Game–size events on a daily basis. The venue has six truck bays and can accommodate 16 trucks in the garage.
“We were cognizant of the need to be able to accommodate All-Star Game–like events from the beginning,” says Price, “and NBA VP of Engineering Mike Rokosa was involved early on to drive that.”
The fan experience at the Amway Center is defined by the quality of the Daktronics scoreboard technology and the flexibility of the Harris InfoCaster system and Daktronics control system.
“We have the only scoreboard where every display has 6-mm pixels,” says Price. “As a result, you don’t see a different image quality [between the different displays] on the center-hung scoreboard, and that allows us to do some unique things with imagery.”
Images can be mapped across multiple displays on the scoreboard (the lower ring has four scoreboards, and the upper ring has eight smaller ones) or even wrapped around it.
“When the [secondary] scoreboards have different resolutions from the main scoreboard,” Price notes, “it can make them look second-rate.
Another unusual aspect of the board is its ability to display live video on the upper scoreboard ring. And each of the four main scoreboards can display signals from different sources.
The scoreboard and digital-signage control rooms are located in the upper
rafters of the building, affording plenty of workspace and a bird’s-eye view of the action. A Ross Vision production switcher with five mix effects is used to control the scoreboard programming.
Game coverage relies on four wired Sony HDC-1500 cameras and a Link wireless camera system (two additional, robotic cameras are planned). Three Harris Inscriber G7 graphics systems are available for building elements, and Harris Velocity and Apple Final Cut Pro editing systems can be used to build video packages. A Harris Nexio Production Playout Center, with nearly 900 hours of HD storage, handles replay applications.
The Playout Center is a shared storage platform, giving it greater flexibility versus competing products, according to Chris Chesley, manager, sales support, for Harris Broadcast’s Professional Services Group. “It also allows instant access to clips,” he says.
The video side of the experience is complemented by a Meyer Sound system featuring six line-array stacks made up of 66 Milo high-power curvilinear loudspeakers and 24 M3D subwoofers.
“Early on, we said the most important thing we could put it in this building was an amazing sound system,” says Price. “It’s the one thing you can’t sell, but, if people walk away from an amazing visual experience where they had a bad audio experience, they won’t be impressed. And it was always frustrating, because we would create this great content that the fans could see but they would never be able to hear it properly.”
With plenty of new toys to play with, Price and his team will have their hands full in the upcoming months. But the long days in recent weeks already appear to be worth it, as long-time broadcasters have reacted positively to a new home that makes it easier than ever for them to create and distribute content.
“One of the local broadcasters told me this place did us right,” he says, “and that was a large compliment.”
No doubt the first of many.
Coming Friday, Part Two: Digital Signage.