BeckTV Integration Enables University of Florida’s GatorVision to Join SEC Network
BeckTV, a design-build systems integrator, is working with the University of Florida to adapt its GatorVision on-campus broadcast control room for live HD sports broadcasting on the upcoming SEC Network.
After providing initial systems integration, installation, and support to develop and deploy the state-of-the-art control room in 2012, BeckTV is now continuing its ongoing partnership with the school’s University Athletic Association (UAA) for the expansion. With a scheduled launch in August, the SEC Network will be operated by ESPN and is dedicated to covering the sports and success of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Initially launched for the Florida Gators’ 2012 football season, the GatorVision control room is located in the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications building. In partnership with the UAA, BeckTV designed the facility to support HD shows for the Daktronics video boards and the GatorVision streaming video platform from six major sports venues located throughout the campus — the football stadium; the basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics arena; and baseball, soccer, softball, and lacrosse stadiums. The control room also provides an important hands-on educational component for radio/television students in the College of Journalism and Communications.
With the launch of the new SEC Network, GatorVision will now be responsible for producing and publishing more than 40 broadcasts per year to the network’s digital platform, increasing its workload from an average of 70 shows a year to well over 100. To accommodate this workload, BeckTV has configured the new control room with dual control panels for the Grass Valley Kayak switcher, with one panel supplying feeds to the Daktronics displays and the other to the SEC Network.
Also, the UAA has expanded its complement of Sony PDW series camcorders to eight — six for tier 1 events such as marquee football games, and at least one for tier 2 events. This expansion will enable GatorVision to produce up to three shows at once; such as an SEC Network broadcast, a video program sent to the Daktronics screens, and a separate digital webcast for another event happening at the same time in a separate venue.
“We’re very happy that we contracted initially with BeckTV on our control room project, because they engineered a fantastic design that can be easily scaled for additions such as the SEC Network feed,” said Brad Noblitt, director of engineering for the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications and WUFT-TV. “It’s risky and complex to take a control room that has been operating well with known sources and then add new systems to it without disrupting existing programming — a puzzle that requires the highest levels of integration expertise. We knew we had the right partner in BeckTV with its ability to put the puzzle pieces together and ensure the project is done correctly from the outset.”
The SEC Network will bring a vital new element to the GatorVision control room’s educational mission, which from the beginning has given broadcast students hands-on experience with professional-scale audio and video equipment. In addition to the Grass Valley switcher, both the GatorVision and WUFT control rooms share resources such as routers, intercom, audio, and playback equipment. Since the new control room can mirror the College’s downstairs production facility, broadcasting students in the WUFT studio are able to shadow live productions taking place in the upstairs facility. “Now, with the SEC feeds, our students will be able to learn and experience switching for a live, real-world broadcast — something very few other journalism schools in the country can provide,” Noblitt noted.
“The University of Florida is a real trailblazer, not only in college sports broadcasting but also because of the powerful educational component it’s providing for tomorrow’s broadcast engineers — which is so critical with today’s chronic shortage of engineering talent in the broadcast field,” said John FitzRandolph, vice president and senior engineer at BeckTV. “We are proud to continue our ongoing partnership with the UAA for this exciting new phase in the history of GatorVision, a true win-win-win for students, sports fans, and the university.”