Big East Ramps Up Production Efforts For Upcoming Baseball Championships

Considering the high profile nature of Big East Men’s and Women’s Basketball, it might come as a surprise to many that the Big East focuses the majority of its internal live production efforts each year on a conference championship event that is not basketball.

Because the entire men’s basketball tournament is televised and 11 of the 15 women’s basketball tournament games are televised, Big East staff who work to produce and distribute content for, the online home for the Big East Digital Network, focus the majority of their efforts on creating content to distribute outside of the live broadcast window.

But with up to 14 early round conference tournament games, an opening ceremony and a home run derby event that are produced live exclusively for the Big East Digital Network, it’s the Big East Baseball Championship that garners the most live production focus for conference staff.

With just under a month remaining until the 2012 version of the baseball championship begins at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., here’s a behind-the-scenes look into how the production will improve this year.

Production Hardware
One of the biggest upgrades to last year’s production was the ability to have a traditional centerfield camera position – previously prohibitive without the 600-plus feet of cable needed to run from the press box to centerfield.  But that upgrade came with a sacrifice:  The conference’s production unit (NewTek’s Tricaster XD300) only had three video outputs, which meant the first-base side camera position had to be eliminated.  Thanks to an upgrade in October 2011 to the Tricaster 850 Extreme, which has 8 outputs, that will no longer be the case.  This year’s production will now have four camera positions:  high home, upper first base side, lower third base side and centerfield.

Instant Replay
The Conference will use NewTek’s basic instant replay system, TimeWarp, for the first time this year. This solution is the first instant replay solution implemented as a part of the league’s in-house live production efforts.

Thanks to the creative efforts of the BIG EAST’s first-ever digital network intern, Shane Harrison, this year’s baseball championship will have a full custom graphics package.  In year’s past, the league used a pre-made template provided by the Tri-caster for its score graphic; now, the broadcast will feature a custom score graphic, lower thirds, a defensive alignment graphic, a starting lineup graphic and more.  On top of that, this year’s score graphic will automatically update the inning, score, balls, strikes and outs thanks to the implementation of a device called the ScoreBot.  The ScoreBot serves as a live data transfer intermediary between the stadium scoreboard and the Tricaster’s Live Text software.  When the scoreboard is updated in the stadium, it will now reflect instantaneously on the broadcast.

Student Assistance
Though technically not listed as the host institution, USF’s proximity to Bright House Field in Clearwater proves to be an invaluable benefit to the BIG EAST’s live production efforts.  USF provides full-time staff, interns and students to fill in various positions of the production – mostly as camera operators.  Over the past two years, USF has continued its investment in content production, hiring new staff and training students to handle various video responsibilities throughout the course of the year.  Previously, students were asked to learn on the fly; this year, they’ll come in with much more experience.

Hired in 2007 when the BIG EAST first took its baseball championship to Clearwater as a member of USF’s broadcasting team, Garrett Walvoord will again be providing play-by-play commentary.  Joining Garrett this year will be two-time Emmy award winning sportscaster Al Keck.  The two will share in the play-by-play and color commentary responsibilities throughout the course of the week.

As is always the case, is the best place to get access to any and all content, live or on-demand, for the 2012 BIG EAST Baseball Championship.  It’s here that you’ll find even more video, including post-game interviews with players and coaches, highlights from every game and much more.  Fans can also get access to exclusive photo galleries, live stats, box scores and recaps from every game.

This story appears courtesy of Ben Fairclough, Senior Director of External Affairs at The Big East Conference.

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