Duke Gets Into the Live-Video Game With New Production Trailer

The competitive nature of college sports is hardly confined to the playing field. So, when Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools like Clemson, Florida State, NC State, and North Carolina began digitally producing and distributing live Olympic-sports events on ESPN3, Duke Athletic Director Dr. Kevin White wanted to know what his school needed to do to get into the live-video game.

Earlier this month, the Blue Devils program officially rolled out its new 24-ft. production trailer and produced its first live event — a women’s basketball game — for ESPN3. Duke is now, very much, in the video game.

Duke Director of Video Chad Lampman oversaw the design and build of the school's new 24-ft. mobile-production trailer.

Duke Director of Video Chad Lampman oversaw the design and build of the school’s new 24-ft. mobile-production trailer.

Ironically enough, its chief foe has been helpful in getting them there.

“I know we’re rivals, but [UNC’s Assistant AD for New Media] Ken [Cleary], [UNC video specialist] Kyle [Lang], and I are good friends, and we talk all of the time,” says Chad Lampman, director of video at Duke University. “Kyle handles a lot of their ESPN3 productions, so we lean on him a lot. He’s been great. He came over for our first production and sat and helped us out if needed. You have a lot of questions when you’re doing your first ESPN3 production, and to have someone with experience was invaluable.”

SVG PHOTO GALLERY: The Gear Inside Duke’s New Production Trailer

The trailer is built around the core-equipment model that most of the schools working with ESPN3’s College Initiative have been implementing: Ross Video’s Carbonite production switcher and a two-channel Ross Video Xpression graphics system. Its gear arsenal also includes a NewTek 3Play (four-in, two-out) for replay, a Behringer audio mixer, Blackmagic video routers, and Clear-Com audio routing.

Duke will produce approximately 17 live events for ESPN3 this spring using its new production trailer.

Duke will produce approximately 17 live events for ESPN3 this spring using its new production trailer.

It is built for a four-camera shoot — Duke uses Panasonic AG-HPX600PJs with Canon lenses — and features camera transmission with the Multidyne SilverBACK II, which can send HD video back and forth over just one fiber, a huge factor given that Duke’s campus does not currently feature many fiber lines between its athletic venues.

According to Lampman, talks at Duke about investing in a live-video-production solution heated up last spring following the conference’s annual meetings.

The school elected to go with a mobile trailer for two reasons. One, the department’s current video infrastructure was not enough to meet the standards ESPN sets for its ESPN3 productions. The only facilities properly wired are football’s Wallace Wade Stadium and basketball’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Those venues’ events are sufficiently covered by ESPN’s broadcast-television deal with Duke.

Second, it would have been unwise to start running fiber throughout campus now since Duke already has in place an extensive athletic-venue–renovation plan that will begin to take effect at the end of this calendar year. Waiting the two years for a new football press box with a centralized video-control room for all athletic venues was too long to hold out.

This trailer, essentially, serves as a stopgap to help get Duke going in video production and can serve as the video hub for all venues during the renovation phases.

The trailer is built around the Ross Video Carbonite production switcher and a two-channel Ross Video Xpression graphics system.

The trailer is built around the Ross Video Carbonite production switcher and a two-channel Ross Video Xpression graphics system.

“We won’t lose a step at all during those renovations,” says Lampman, who worked with integrator WH Platts on the design and build. “This trailer bridges that gap, and we can still do all of the productions that we need to do.”

Having done two ESPN3 productions, Lampman’s small production crew ran through an exciting three-day stretch last week that included a women’s basketball game Thursday night, a men’s lacrosse game on Friday night, and a women’s lacrosse game on Saturday afternoon. This weekend could be its most-viewed production to date, with the trailer producing Duke’s Spring Football Game.

Lampman, who serves as director on Duke’s ESPN3 live events, estimates that the school will produce approximately 17 live events this spring, including the defending-national-champion men’s lacrosse team, women’s lacrosse, and baseball. A typical game-day crew features a director, a technical director, a graphics person, a replay operator, an audio operator, and a shader. Lampman typically pulls from a pool of four Duke staffers (one full-time and three part-time) and a few local freelancers.