Buffalo Bills Transform Training-Camp Coverage With TVU Networks
With TVU RPS, the team produces a live multicamera show controlled from home
With two preseason games already in the books, Buffalo Bills’ training camp is well under way in Pittsford, NY, a town 80 miles from the team’s home in Orchard Park. Given the distance between training camp and New Era Field, which houses the team’s studio facilities, not to mention a fan base that spans all of Upstate New York, the Bills decided to up their onsite–production game with TVU Networks’ Remote Production System (RPS).
The Bills had been relying on the TVU One cellular 4G/LTE portable IP video transmitter for several seasons. The backpack allowed the team to capture content from training camp, as well as from events like the NFL Draft and NFL Combine, and send it to its One Buffalo Studio at New Era Field for playout on the team’s network affiliates, website, and more. But, says Jay Harris, producer, media and content, the Bills wanted a way to cover the team’s various offsite events with more than just a single camera.
The TVU RPS provides a cost-effective alternative for at-home/REMI video production, giving the Bills the ability to produce a live, synchronized multicamera program in a remote location using mainly a team’s existing studio facilities at New Era Field and a public-internet connection from the field. The TVU RPS transmitter encodes up to six synchronized SDI sources and transmits high-quality, low-latency IP video from the remote location to a studio-based receiver, which outputs six synchronized SDI signals.
“We currently use a three-camera shoot for our daily Buffalo Bills show from training camp, and we use that system to great lengths,” says Harris. “It allows us to send stuff out [and] get a return feed so we can see what we’re looking at. And it’s all sent back to Orchard Park, so I don’t need a full engineer or full staff onsite because the tools that come with it allow control [from One Buffalo Studio].”
In addition to the Bills, the studio supports the Buffalo Sabres via connectivity to the NHL team’s Key Bank Center in downtown Buffalo. Between the two teams, it provides five hours of programming a day — two for the Sabres, three for the Bills — simulcast regionally on MSG Network, as well as on WGR Sports Radio 550 and ESPN Rochester 95.7 FM.
With so many hours to fill, Harris looked for a way to make the production more dynamic. With one camera, the team would have to get creative, especially when events were occurring all over the training-camp complex. With three cameras, Harris can have one operator shooting a press conference while another records a player interview or captures B roll of player workouts. And, because of the simplicity of the setup, only one production assistant — George Blas — is required onsite, rather than a full production crew.
“We can have various camera angles; we can have more guests on and give a different look to our broadcast. Before, we were just doing a one-camera shoot and trying to replicate a live feel,” says Harris. “But, if you’re stuck on just one shot for a very long time, [viewers] get bored, and you lose their attention. Now even a simple camera cut will be able to grab [their] attention again and refocus [them on] what we’re doing, which allows us to draw a bigger audience seeking Buffalo Bills news. We are the only program in town — both radio and TV — that is putting out this type of coverage.
Beyond training camp, Harris plans to use the team’s TVU system at the NFL Draft and NFL Combine and may potentially use it at away games. But, for now, he is pleased with simply enhancing training camp coverage for the team’s avid fan base.
“It’s allowed us to put a stamp on what we’re already doing,” he says. “We’re a team-produced show — we’re the eyes and ears of the team — and want to give fans the information they’re not getting anywhere else. Bringing the show out to training camp gives that feel that we’re right there. We’re right on the field, and we just have this dynamic look to the production. It’s all done with the simplicity of the TVU; it makes it look bigger than it actually is.”