Time Warner Cable SportsNet Revitalizes Studio With 23-Ft. Curved LED Display
Now celebrating its fourth season as the television home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Time Warner Cable SportsNet recently unveiled a refreshed studio home for such shows as #Lakeshow and Access SportsNet: Lakers.
After taking on the first half of its planned studio upgrades during last season’s All-Star break, TWC SportsNet completed the transformation during the offseason in time for the team’s regular-season tipoff on Oct. 28. The network emphasized video-display technology during the latter phase of the upgrades, installing an eye-popping 23- x 7-ft. Leyard USA curved LED display with 1.6-mm pixel pitch.
TWC SportsNet worked with Leyard USA and Diversified Systems to design a display that follows the 3-degree arc of the studio. The network is in the process of installing Vizrt Multiplay to integrate with its existing Liberovision technology.
“Most important, we can really take advantage of the extremely high resolution of this wall,” says Peter Bothe, director, studio operations, Time Warner Cable SportsNet. “We broadcast in 1080i, but we natively push high-resolution content into the video wall, and many different sources at once really enhances our production value and further allows our on-air talent and analysts to deliver better programming for our Lakers fans.”
The network also installed nine Christie narrow-bezel LED displays in a 3×3 array behind the main desk used for Lakers pre/postgame shows, as well as for MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks coverage.
“The Christie displays make the image on-camera pop so much more; graphics are more vibrant,” says Anthony Violanto, manager, studio operations, TWC SportsNet. “One challenge we’ve always had is Lakers purple and gold — it’s really hard to shade those colors for television — and using the updated display technology makes the studio feel much more Lakers.”
Previously, TWC SportsNet relied on Christie LX700 projectors with wide-angle lenses. However, when the studio talent approached the wall to interact with the rear-projected video, the quality of the video would drop off.
“Once our programming really started to take shape in how we were going to break down plays [on the video wall], it became clear that, in any future designs that we did, rear projection would not be an option,” Violanto explains. “That’s why, when we started specking out equipment for this new build, LED walls became a top priority for us.”
The network currently relies on the built-in processing power of the Christie LED displays, which can tile a single video signal to any size or confirmation. Because the displays serve as a backdrop for the main desk, they are used predominantly for simple elements and show cycles.
Currently, says Bothe, TWC SportsNet has only scratched the surface in its use of new video-display technologies. With all-LED lighting, the studio space is extremely versatile, and the network has experimented with different locations for the main desk, including in front of the Leyard USA wall.
Outside the studio, the network is fully leveraging Sony F55 cameras within its ENG workflows in the field after experimenting with the cameras at the end of last season. The cameras will be used to capture team events like Lakers Media Day as well as player interviews and pre/postgame coverage from the STAPLES Center or away arena.
“We’re really excited to be able to provide [high-quality] coverage of the Lakers for the fans who love that team,” says Bothe. “Lakers fans are such a passionate group of people, and we think that some of the changes we’ve made this year are really going to support their voracious appetite for all things Lakers.”
All photos courtesy of Time Warner Cable Sports