American Airlines Center Expands Routing Capabilities with PESA Cheetah Router and Touch72 LCD Control Panel
American Airlines Center in Dallas, home of the NBA Dallas Mavericks and NHL Dallas Stars, recently upgraded its routing infrastructure with a variety of PESA products. Installed last summer, the new system is built around a PESA Cheetah 288×288 digital video routing switcher and includes PESA’s new Touch72 LCD router control panel.
On any given game day, there are close to 100 technical employees on site, including broadcast personnel, at the 20,000-seat venue. Beyond its live in-house video presentations, the AAC has a number of video-related responsibilities, including providing live feeds of game coverage to NBA and NHL officials via high-speed fiber networks. Other equipment used at the arena include Sony cameras (two with Canon 72x lenses), a Sony production switcher, Click Effects graphics servers, and Lighthouse screens with 4mm pixel pitch.
While the AAC has access to multiple cameras from the broadcast feed, it tends to use footage from its own six-camera setup for in-house video presentations. Inside the venue, four HD cameras capture the action, including one handheld on each end of the basketball court or hockey rink and two cameras with 72x lenses operated from the stands. There are also two handheld SD cameras (upconverted to HD) outside in AT&T Plaza to cover concerts and other pre-game activities.
Three control rooms housed in the American Airlines Center produce its in-house video presentations. The primary control room handles all cameras and live video for the arena, including game action shown on 72×30-foot screens on either side of the arena and four HD video screens hung in the center. The secondary control room manages all live switching to the AT&T Plaza, an area outside the arena that features large HD video screens and often hosts pre-game concerts. Located in the press area, the third control room is tasked with graphics for the main screens and other displays throughout the facility.
According to Randy Breedlove, manager of broadcast services, the American Airlines Center had been relying on multiple routing platforms to service the entire facility. “It became obvious to us that we needed to get all of this consolidated,” he recalls, “and we needed to get into the embedded digital audio realm.”
The Cheetah 288×288 frame is currently populated at about 128×128. Half of the connections are equipped with embedded audio, which is important to the AAC because of its integration with broadcasters during basketball and hockey games. Beyond the main stereo announce audio for the facility, embedded audio provides access to additional audio sources – including the television broadcast, English and Spanish radio coverage, and effects feeds – through the same coax connection.
Breedlove says the embedded audio is a feature that has improved the arena’s video workflow. “It’s very useful to have any audio feeds associated with the broadcast in addition to the arena feeds,” he adds.
While the facility will “definitely grow” into the Cheetah router, Breedlove says his engineers were initially drawn to PESA because of its PERC3000 router control solution with Cattrax software for system setup, maintenance, and monitoring. “The software is powerful but not complicated,” Breedlove explains. “It’s very user friendly. That was a huge part of our decision.”
The new routing system was also an opportunity to upgrade to LCD router control panels with PESA’s Touch72 LCD, which features 72 programmable LCD push button switches in an 2 RU configuration, along with a color touch-screen display. Each push button can be configured as a source, destination, level, or salvo. Up to 16 characters and individual background colors can be used to identify each switch, and names are dynamically updated on each affected LCD switch as the system configuration is changed.
The AAC has already installed one Touch72 LCD, and Breedlove says three more will be installed in early 2014. “We are very happy. It’s so intuitive,” he adds. “It really has changed how you can control routers now. You can take full advantage of all the sources in a plant. PESA definitely delivered there.”
For Breedlove, the most important feature for the new router was reliability. “That’s one of the things that attracted us to PESA,” he says. “The router is the heart of your plant. You take for granted it’s going to work. We were sure PESA built a device that was rock solid. It was a very easy decision to go with PESA.”