Harvard Bolsters Control Room to Handle Dual Productions; Invests In Closed Captioning

Construction in the athletic department at Harvard University certainly shows signs of growth as the Crimson have completed renovations on its centralized control room that will now allow for the department’s video production team to produce multiple events from the same space.

Harvard's revamped centralized control room is now capable up hosting productions on multiple events.

Harvard’s revamped centralized control room is now capable up hosting productions on multiple events.

Renovations have included an additional switcher and replay server and a larger router, giving the Harvard video team the flexibility to produce multiple combinations of video board and live streaming shows simultaneously. In the past, the control room could only be used for one event (i.e. a football live stream or an ice hockey video board show). Preparing for a busy scheduling ahead, Harvard invested in the technological changes needed.

“Looking ahead to the schedule we saw that there would be a lot of overlaps between hockey and football,” says Imry Halevi, Director of Multimedia & Production, Harvard Athletics. “We had a decision to make, it was either not provide adequate coverage which serve our fans well or the environment of the games well, or we could invest the money and look at this as a long-term investment because it provides us with more flexibility in scheduling games moving forward.”

The control room now features two switchers (the main switcher is a NewTek TriCaster 8000 and the secondary is a NewTek TriCaster 460), two NewTek 3Play 4800 replay servers (8-in, 2-out), and a Blackmagic Design Videohub router (72×72). A dual-production control room can get chaotic, so Harvard has turned to a Clear-Com 4-channel party line intercom systems.

A software upgrade introduced for the TriCaster back at NAB also makes it possible to do two shows from each TriCaster, meaning that the Harvard control room could actually max out at four simultaneous events, if it were ever necessary.

In addition, Harvard has also made a commitment to providing closed captioning on all of its live events. Its something that is not necessarily required just yet from the FCC on straight to the web live sports productions, but, for Halevi, it was an important leap to make.

“I always want to be at the forefront,” says Halevi. “I want to make sure that we represent ourselves well and if there’s a technology or solution or accessibility factor out there, we have the opportunity and the resources. Secondly, I go to many conferences and listen to what people are talking about. This was the first year where I heard an overwhelming chatter about caption. Never heard it before but now at multiple conferences I’m hearing it. Maybe the technology is accessible enough for those of us at the college level. That made me think that its time for us to start looking.”

Harvard is working with Vitac (who is providing human captioners), has obtained its captioning encoders from Link Electronics, and is streaming its events out via a Teradeck Cube, as it has the ability to maintain captions, a function not available when streaming straight from a TriCaster.

Halevi anticipates that closed captioned productions will begin the upcoming fall season.

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