PGA Tour Productions goes international with HD

By Ken Kerschbaumer

High definition has become the norm in coverage of PGA golf events domestically and now broadcasters around the world will have the chance to broadcast in HD as PGA Tour Productions recently made its international feed control room HD capable.

The room is used for creating the enhanced international feed. It is not a true world feed because it is not produced in the compound at the course but is, instead, a modified version of the incoming CBS Sports or NBC Sports signal.

“The real challenge was we had to tear everything out of the room and build it back in the 42-day window between our last international feed last year and the first one this year,” says Chuck Scoggins, PGA Tour Productions, VP operations.

David Dukes, PGA Tour Productions director of technical operations, says the facility previously distributed a center-cut, standard-definition version of the incoming HD feeds. PGA Tour Productions did a cost-benefit analysis of either taking an interim step and offer a standard definition 16:9 feed or make the leap to HD. “It didn’t make sense to go to the interim step because we would go HD within a year or two,” he adds.

The facility, based in St. Augustine, FL, handles about 39 events with another four PGA tournaments having a true world feed created on site. The old facility, based around a large CRT monitor wall and an SD Sony switcher and SD Avid Deko graphics gear, has been replaced with four TV Logic LCD panels and a Miranda Kaleido-X multiviewer, HD graphics, and a new Sony 8000G HD switcher. “The control panel is the same as the SD one but the guts of it were changed completely,” says Dukes. A Utah-Scientific HD router is also put to use.

Miranda’s Kaleido-X multiviewer continues to gain new customers, especially as flat-panel monitor walls become the norm. Sources can be repeated multiple times to displays in the same way as a routing switcher works.

“We can easily change layouts on the screens by dragging-and-dropping items using a mouse, without the need for an extra PC,” adds Dukes.

Every week the HD signals from CBS or NBC are brought into the control room and repackaged and re-produced. For example, some international networks have commercial breaks and others don’t. So during U.S. commercial breaks the PGA Tour Productions will continue to provide coverage. The incoming feed is recorded on an EVS for a slight delay to allow for items like an international leaderboard to be pushed out to viewers. The facility also has a voice-over room so a commentator can continue to call the action during U.S. commercial breaks.

Tandberg HD encoders then pump the 1080i/60 fps DVB S2 feed to Eurovision in Washington, DC where it is then sent to Geneva, Switzerland, via fiber. “Various flavors of the signal, anamorphic PAL, center-cut PAL, 16:9 NTSC, and HD at 50 fps and 60 fps, are spit out to international clients,” says Dukes. “Eurovision is tied directly into every European broadcaster on a daily basis and that makes it easy to communicate.”

One element that needs to make a final leap is audio. While CBS Sports provides a 5.1 Surround Sound mix NBC Sports still only offers a stereo mix. “Right now we’re also waiting for the HD side of things to pick up in Europe and we’ll eventually move to 5.1 Surround Sound.”