Sony Outfits Core Production Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports

While much of the attention at Disney World’s newly rebranded ESPN Wide World of Sports complex has focused on the ESPN’s Innovation Lab and 3D-production efforts, the facility’s new production center may be the most impressive of all.

The Production Center, which was integrated by Sony’s Solutions Group, serves as a centralized hub for producing live events at the Orlando, FL, complex (formerly Disney’s Wide World of Sports), including Atlanta Braves spring training and more than 300 youth events this year. In addition, the new Production Center will serve as a training facility for personnel to gain experience in 3D sports production.

“It was three-way deal: Sony, Disney, and ESPN,” says John Garmendi, national account manager, Sony Broadcast & Production Systems Division. “We got involved both as a technology partner and as a systems-integration company through Sony Solutions Group, and, over a few months, we put this production center together.”

The facility houses eight Final Cut Pro-based edit suites based on Grass Valley K2 servers and feeds highlights from Wide World of Sports events back to the main server system in Bristol, CT. At the Production Center, a Sony MVS6000 switcher controls 42 Sony BRC-Z330 pan-tilt-zoom HD robotic cameras scattered throughout the complex at the various playing venues.

“We’ve got [the robotic cameras] out at the [Champion Stadium] baseball field in environmental enclosures with air-conditioning and hardened casing just in case they’re hit by a fly ball,” says Garmendi. “They’re pretty much indestructible.”

In addition, Sony has outfitted the center with 10 PMW-EX3 XDCAM handheld camcorders for its ENG needs, four HDC-1400 EFP cameras, and FWD 42-in. LCD monitors. The production hub also features 16 channels of bidirectional video along with audio ingest, playout capabilities, and graphics systems.

Sony’s Solutions Group also set up a full-fiber infrastructure between the production center and the profusion of sports venues around the complex. Sony also integrated the digital signage around Wide World of Sports, including two Daktronics video displays, one at the Milk House indoor basketball facility and one at the welcome center.

“Disney and ESPN brought us in and said, hey, we want to move into real digital signage,” says Garmendi. “You won’t believe this, but they actually used to do the tournament brackets out [on the playing fields], just using chalk boards. Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from that.”