Abekas Mira Server Anchors Old Dominion University’s HD Upgrade

The control room at Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant Convocation Center originates a wide range of sports content, from Harlem Globetrotters basketball to USA Boxing. However, the Constant Center, located in Norfolk, VA, is most often home to the ODU men’s and women’s basketball teams and the wrestling team, and the student-athletes are now featured in HD-quality video. The control room recently underwent a full HD upgrade, under the watchful eye of Julie Kindinger, audio/video production coordinator for the center, and an Abekas Mira digital video-production server anchors the new HD workflow.

“We did a whole lot of research among our team of three,” Kindinger explains. “But we also hired an outside consulting company to assist us with our upgrade, to make sure that we didn’t forget the little things.”

High Quality, Low Cost
While Old Dominion does not have the budget of the Dallas Cowboys to produce its live scoreboard shows, Kindinger and her team are committed to producing a quality show. Their HD upgrade included the purchase of five Panasonic cameras, three AG-HPX500s and two AG-HPX170s, and a Click Effects Crossfire single-channel HD 4U clip server.

For the production server, it was critical to Kindinger that the HD version could continuously record. When she read about the release of the Abekas Mira server in an SVG newsletter, members of the team responsible for the upgrade went to the NAB show in Las Vegas to take a look at it in person.

Continuous Content
“For our HD server, we wanted to make sure that it was going to always be recording,” Kindinger says. “That was one of our big problems with the system we had in the past: if we were playing back a replay and another big play happened, then we wouldn’t be able to get it. There aren’t all that many HD replay options that are always recording, and most of them would have taken up too much of our budget. The Abekas really gave us the best bang for our buck.”

When the ODU Monarchs take the field or court, the Mira server continuously records from three HD 720p cameras televising the event; the fourth channel on the Mira can be used for instant replay of any of those recorded cameras. A DMAT-AB hardware control panel from DNF Controls allows the user to quickly access any of the recorded content to create slow-motion instant replays or create highlight play lists.

Kindinger’s team produces five-camera shoots, complete with replay and graphics, for every men’s and women’s basketball game that takes place in the Constant Center, as well as the football games played at Foreman Field, which is connected via fiber to the center.

“We’ll produce a full show starting pre-game all the way through post-game based on that five-camera shoot, and we have a mix of local freelance professionals and ODU students that we use to staff it,” Kindinger says. “Some students are in the broadcasting major, but some are not. We have an accounting major who just loves it.”

Team in Training
Kindinger trains all of the students herself, with the help of her local freelance crew.

“I’ll try to pair them up as best I can, so that some of my guys with less experience are working side by side as a grip with my local freelance guys,” she explains. “For basketball, we don’t have grips and utilities, so we use pre-game and setup time for the non-freelancers to learn from the freelancers.”

For smaller events, such as wrestling meets and high school basketball tournaments, ODU does not hire freelancers, so students get the chance to work with the handheld cameras and fly solo on some of the production duties.

In addition to the Abekas Mira production server, Click Effects clip server, and Panasonic cameras, ODU’s HD upgrade included Anton Bauer mounts; Telecast camera, audio, and intercom fiber transport; Neutrik connectors; a Clear-Com intercom system; a For-A HVS-1000HS EOU switcher; a Miranda Kaleido-X16-D DVI; a Yamaha 01V96VCM-CA digital mixer; and Evertz transmitters and distribution amplifiers.