Oklahoma’s SoonerVision Raises the Bar on Live Event Coverage

While archrival University of Texas is both basking in the praise and dodging the daggers that have come courtesy of the Longhorn Network, the University of Oklahoma is laying the foundation for its own venture by massively overhauling the video offerings of its SoonerVision HD.

One of the top video-production teams in the college sector, Oklahoma is slated to produce approximately 220 events in HD, far surpassing last year’s total of around 150.

“This is by far the most ambitious schedule we’ve ever taken on in a year,” says Brandon Meier, associate AD for video production at OU, “and that’s saying something, considering how ambitious we’ve been in recent years.”

Major Equipment Upgrades
Olympic sports will see a new level of coverage because SoonerVision will not be settling for simply single-camera shoots. The goal is a network-quality broadcast each time the Sooners hit the air.

According to Meier, the university invested nearly $2.5 million to boost its live-video offerings through a new control room, additional cameras, a larger switcher, and a crop of new EVS replay systems.

“It’s the exact same equipment, if not maybe even a little better than you’re going to see on the NEP trucks and the Game Creek trucks and any of the other trucks that ESPN and Fox are using,” he says.

The Sooners went all in. Among the top-of-the-line additions were two Grass Valley Kayenne switchers, six new Sony cameras (three HD1400Rs and three robotics), a telestrator, and an EVS XT3. They even considered a SportVision-type of 3D graphics system before cutting it to stay under budget.

Fully Wired Campus
The Oklahoma video department now operates out of a pair of control rooms located in the bowels of Gaylord Family – Memorial Coliseum, which is connected via fiber to all of the school’s other athletic facilities.

SoonerVision game feeds are produced out of one of a pair of control rooms located in Gaylord Family – Memorial Coliseum.

One control room is dedicated to an event’s live venue video-board show; the second is where SoonerVision’s game broadcast feeds are produced.

Of the 220 broadcasts, 150 will be live events, with 25 of the game telecasts fed to regional Sooner Sports Network affiliates. Those events also will go to the All-Access area of SoonerSports.com. An additional 25 will be broadcast live on Oklahoma Cox channels 3 (SD) and 703 (HD), and those also will be available on the All Access platform.

The Kids Are Alright
With the rapid rise in digital networks across the college athletics landscape, there has never been a better time to be a budding television-production student.

With all these games to cover with all this new gear, SoonerVision boosted its student staff from 40 to 60 and had the luxury of sifting through nearly 120 applicants.

With seven full-time administrators on staff, Meier estimates that 90% of SoonerVision game-production crews will be made up of students. As the season progresses into the spring. that total could reach as high as 95%-100%.

Meier laughs, “I tell them, there’s no better part-time job on campus.”