AEG Digital Media Serves as Home Away From Home for NBATV
The L.A. LIVE complex in downtown Los Angeles is more than just the Staples Center. And this past week, with the NBA on-site for a wide variety of NBA All-Star Game–related activities, the entire facility was running at full speed: from the hotels to the plazas, movie theater, Convention Center, and the AEG Digtial Media (AEGDM) TV-production facilities.
The production facilities served as home base for 10 NBA TV programs. It was a logical alternative to locating the NBA TV operations in a production truck on the Event Deck, where trucks from Turner Sports, Game Creek, NCP, and NEP were handling the events that took place in the Staples Center. It also gave NBA TV an optimal set location overlooking Staples Center and L.A. LIVE.
“We wanted the atmosphere of being in the middle of the Staples Center,” says Chris Brown, director of technical operations for NBA Digital.
The AEGDM facilities also simplified cabling needs since the facility is tied into the fiber network that puts all the venues and hotels on the same fiber ring. So, when player and coach media events were held in the JW Marriott hotel, the production team could easily get video and audio back to the NBA TV control room at AEGDM.
The control room features a Sony 8000 production switcher, and two EVS servers and a Grass Valley digital disk recorder were on hand for tape playback and transitions. NBA TV also brought in Chyron Duet graphics gear and worked with a Studer console in the facility’s audio room.
“We thought of using Apple Final Cut Pro editing suites,” says Brown, “but, if we needed anything edited, we could use the editors for NBA.com, who were working in a Bexel trailer on the Event Deck.”
Besides the fiber connectivity across the venue, there was a need for Internet connectivity to help players and other NBAers take part in NBA Scene. Participants, armed with Flip HD cameras, sent video clips back to the NBA Overtime production trailer via 4- to 5-Mbps Internet pipes.
“Speed is the key,” says Brown. “There was also another 6-Mbps connection in the edit trailer so clips could be uploaded straight to Atlanta via Aspera.”
Brown credits AEGDM Technical Manager Shawn Kelly with playing a key role in making things run smoothly: “Kelly is intimately familiar with the campus and what it can do.”
The Magenta Carpet Show (sponsor T-Mobile called for a change from the usual red) also was an important part of the pregame festivities. Two musical acts took part in the event, which was carried live on NBATV from 2 to 4 p.m. PT and then on TNT from 4 p.m. until game time. The event was recorded to EVS servers so that TNT could pick up relevant interviews and performances.
The AEGDM facilities were complemented by a horde of production trucks and trailers on the Event Deck, which is across the street from the Staples Center.
NEP SS24 handled the rookie game on Friday and the All-Star Game on Sunday; NCP X handled All-Star Saturday night. The entertainment truck (halftime, pregame, etc.) was Turner Studios 1, and Inside the NBA operated out of NEP SS18 (the regular-season NBA truck). Game Creek Freedom handled the world feed, and SDTV handled a feed to China. Lyon Video’s Lyon-11 played a role at the Convention Center, handling events from the NBA Jam Session.
For transmission, the NBA relied on its fulltime fiber network with all encoding on-site with Intelsat, courtesy of Tandberg gear. Seven diverse transmission paths protected the world feed, including two HD and SD plus an SD multiplex carrying four isolated camera feeds.
“Outbound, we have a longstanding deal for a full-time transponder from Intelsat into each region, and the EBU [European Broadcast Union] picks up the feed for the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Europe,” says NBA VP for Broadcasting Peter Skrodelis. Direct circuits from the NAB operations in Secaucus, NJ, to China were also used.
“For the game and the All-Star Saturday night, the team at Turner and the NBA knows what they are doing,” says Brown. “NBATV and the entertainment is always the wildcard and needs a place to fit in.”
With the help of AEGDM, they fit in just fine.