Cowboys Stadium Enhances In-Venue Video Operations

The Cowboys Stadium production crew will offer a better experience for fans of the Dallas Cowboys this year. A new Sony camera coupled with a Link wireless transmission system, Txtstation’s cellular-based polling system, and an additional replay system will deliver new content to the massive scoreboards that dominate the venue.

“We demoed the Grass Valley Dyno and Orad’s instant-replay system, and we’re deciding between those two,” says Dwin Towell, director of broadcast engineering services, Dallas Cowboys Football, of the new replay system, which is expected to be added by the start of the season.

Coming off last year’s Super Bowl, he adds, the production team is ready for anything (including inclement weather).

The centerpiece of the main control room is a Sony 3M/E MVS-8000 switcher, and the facility also houses three Chyron HyperX graphics systems, Click Effects content-delivery system, and three Harris NEXIO servers for commercial and long-segment playback. Evertz supplied all the routing, with most of the fiber coming from Evertz and Telecast.

The production crew already has an EVS system on board, and the decision to add a different system is based on economics: the Grass Valley and Orad systems are much cheaper.

“The user interfaces are also more modern, and we brought in EVS operators, gave them an hour of training, and they adapted pretty quickly,” says Towell. “The disadvantage is [the Grass Valley and Orad systems] can’t network to the EVS systems, but they can network to the Apple Final Cut Pro editing systems.”

The wireless camera will rove around the stadium and be used to capture fans in the stands and other happenings. It joins a dedicated 10 cameras used to produce the in-stadium show, and the director also has access to 12 camera feeds from the production truck handling the TV broadcast.

The use of Txtstation, a system that allows stadium personnel to create polls, contests, and more that fans can access via text messaging, reflects the growing ability of venues to handle cellular traffic. As venues like Cowboys Stadium add cellular capacity, fans can more easily respond to in-venue calls to action.

“Right now, we have a record bandwidth available, and, with Txtstation, we can add in interactive games that fans can play with,” says Towell. “We also had some inquiries about handheld video devices, but that would require a lot of work with metadata.”

Every team in the NFL is on a bit of an accelerated schedule given the lockout. For the Cowboys, that has meant that a lot of the current players initially will not be featured in advertising and some other packages. One change in operations, however, has been that, for the last two weeks, the team has held training camp at the stadium instead of in Oxnard, CA.

“They’re moving out, but it’s been a good experience, and it has been the longest continual time they have spent inside the stadium,” says Towell. “It’s been good for the team, like a home-turf advantage.”