Promar TV Delivers Venezuelan Baseball Worldwide With Blackmagic Gear

When Promar TV was named official production company of Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional (LVBP), the Venezuelan broadcaster took the opportunity to upgrade its production facilities and build a 23-ft. tactical OB truck with a wealth of Blackmagic Design gear.

Already Venezuela’s largest production company and television station, Promar TV now broadcasts every game of the LVBP, which is not only the highest level of baseball in Venezuela but the largest professional baseball league in South America.

In addition to capturing each game in HD, Promar TV manages broadcasts for national and foreign networks, including ESPN and Fox Sports. Flexibility, scalability, and price were the key factors the broadcaster considered in selecting a production switcher.

“We’ve been in the production business for a long time,” says Jorge Santiago Kossowski, engineering manager, Promar TV. “We were looking to improve our truck for the baseball season starting last October. We looked at a lot of switchers, a lot of equipment, and we ended up with what we thought was the most suitable and the best and inside our price range. … Blackmagic just has incredible prices, and, inside that price range, it’s really hard to find something else.”

Promar TV selected an ATEM 2M/E Production Studio 4K switcher, using the auxiliary outputs to send individual feeds and customize broadcasts to networks’ on-air looks. According to Kossowski, the ATEM makes it easy to have several operators working on the switcher at once to ensure one network’s commentators do not accidentally appear on-air elsewhere.

“Broadcasts [can be] customized by adding one more camera in each commentators’ box,” says Kossowski. “We are able to put each station’s commentator on-air by using the aux bus on the ATEM; it was very easy using different operators, one for each station.”

This past season, Promar TV needed to accommodate an LVBP rule change that allows a manager to challenge an umpire’s decision. The production company provides the instant replay, comprising multiple camera angles, to the umpire at each game. The production challenge, says Kossowski, was to keep this feed separate from the broadcast and the in-venue videoboard while giving umpires the control to repeatedly play back angles.

The OB truck also features a Universal Videohub 72×144 router. Kossowski finds the router especially helpful in handling the sheer number of feeds coming and out of the truck.

“It’s very compact, which makes it ergonomically ideal for our new OB truck,” he says. “But the main reason for purchasing the Videohub was that we were able to put all 216 cables through one piece of equipment, making cabling a lot easier.

“Before,” he continues, “we had cables running everywhere. When there was a hiccup and we didn’t know what caused it, we’d have to troubleshoot 144 cables. That’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. With the Universal Videohub, everything is centralized, and, if we need to find something, we know it’s going to be there.”

Blackmagic Design also supplied four Teranex 2D processors, seven HyperDeck Studio devices to record games, several UltraStudio 3D I/O devices to help with editing and monitoring, and numerous UltraScopes and mini converters. Although Promar TV captures each game in HD, not every network is HD-capable. The company relies on the conversion capabilities of the Teranex processors to offer each game in both 16:9 and 4:3.

From ESPN and Fox Sports to local Venezuelan broadcasters, LVBP game broadcasts have a wide variety of on-air looks. With Blackmagic gear at the heart of its new OB truck, Promar TV is prepared for anything individual networks require.

“This season, we expect to work with eight directors, all with their own style and all who like to arrange the cameras, VTRs, multiviewer, and such to fit that style,” says Kossowski. “The ATEM gives us the flexibility to do this without compromising the workflow or the quality of the broadcast.”