X Games Live: BSI Is in the Air at L.A. Live

Four venues holding dozens of simultaneous events in the middle of one of the largest downtown metropolises in the world can make for a crowded RF landscape, but Broadcast Sports Inc. (BSI) has been up to the challenge thus far at X Games 17 this week in Los Angeles.

“This is the first time they’ve consolidated all the events into a single location,” says BSI technology development manager Clay Underwood. “So it becomes pretty complex to service all those different venues from one truck in one central location. When there were two venues, we didn’t have one truck trying to deal with everything. Our responsibilities were separated and our facilities were separated.”

BSI All Over X Games

BSI is providing a variety of elements to ESPN for X Games this year, including FR hookups for two wireless handheld cameras, a wireless SteadiCam, a wireless 3D handheld camera, a 2D and a 3D FlyCam system, and 10 in-car/on-board Rally Car cameras. Also on BSI’s X Games plate are 27 wireless microphones and 24 PL intercoms, and 10 IFBs for ESPN talent.

BSI has set up eight receive sites throughout LA Live: two inside the Staples Center, one inside the Nokia Theater, one on the Park & Street Event Deck, one on its trailer, one in the Nokia Plaza, and two in Lot 7 for the Big Air and Rally Car competitions. These receive sites take in the RF signal and send it back to BSI’s truck over fiber.

“We basically turn RF into light and we send it down a fiber-optic cable, then bring it into our truck and turn it back into RF,” says Underwood. “In the truck we can centrally select which of those receive sites we want the RF to run through. We designed a system that does all that automatically, so it’s hands off. We bring back all that RF and plug it into a receive card that we designed, which makes a decision 10,000 times per second about which bit of data is valid.”

BSI Goes Inside the Car

BSI is also handling RF duties for eight of the 16 cars in the Rally Car Racing competitions with in-car/on-board cameras. A total of 10 systems will be deployed with the two frontrunners getting both an in-car and on-board camera.

“We are able to remotely switch up to four cameras at once,” says Underwood. “It’s under ESPN’s directorial control but we’re actually doing the physical pushing of the button that switches between the cameras.”

While 10 systems on eight cars is a massive undertaking, it is actually a step back from previous years, when ESPN utilized in-car reporters during the competitions. BSI was tasked with simultaneously providing comms and wireless mics for the two reporters, who would sit inside the car’s navigator seat.

Talking Through Walls

X Games’ unique inside-outside setup at LA Live creates some unique challenges for BSI operations.

“One of the big challenges here at Summer X is being inside buildings as well as outside because radio transmissions obviously don’t travel through the walls of the buildings,” says Underwood. “So for every person that needs to talk on a PL, we have to have a PL inside of the building as well as outside. Then we have to mix them all together so that the truck views is as a single PL.”

“Normally when you do an event like golf, it’s just a big outdoor event where we can put up our big 60-foot mast and send out the transmission and everyone gets it,” he continues. “But here, its much more complicated.”

RF, 3D Finally Learn to Get Along

BSI is also providing two HDSDI links for ESPN’s 3D FlyCam inside the Staples Center for the Moto X events. One of the initial vendors brought on by ESPN in the early days of its 3D network, BSI has made tremendous progress in the field of wireless 3D transmission over the past 18 months.

“We’ve spent a lot of time building our own miniature transmitters and making sure that the video coming out of them is absolutely synched together,” says Underwood. “There can’t be a bit of latency. Everything has to be decoded at exactly the same time.”

Check out more of SVG’s comprehensive live X Games 17 coverage from Los Angeles by CLICKING HERE.