Ducks Fly Together During A/V Overhaul at Honda Center

The 22-year-old facility enters the HD era this season with new 1080p video displays from Daktronics and video-control room from Diversified Systems

Honda Center, still affectionately known to fans as The Pond, opened its doors in 1993 to house the Mighty Ducks; an NHL expansion team owned by — who else? — Walt Disney Co. Although the ‘Mighty’ is long gone, the Anaheim Ducks maintain the same commitment to the fan experience inherent in the Disney brand.

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The new LED center-hung display highlights the Honda Center overhaul.

Prior to the 2015-16 NBA season, the Ducks unveiled a host of Honda Center upgrades geared toward enhancing the fan experience on game day, including a dazzling new center-hung video display and crystal-clear front-of-house audio.

“It was a great project to be part of,” says Kevin Starkey, VP/COO, Anaheim Arena Management. “Ownership was ecstatic. I think our fans are ecstatic, and, at the end of the day, that’s what you want: you want a great experience for your fans. They focus on that big video screen; it’s like looking at your TV at home. It’s just a very high-quality resolution, and [we’re] really happy with how it looks.”

The new HD LED center-hung video display — designed, manufactured, and installed by Daktronics — is truly the focal point of the venue overhaul. The structure measures 28.5 ft. tall by 36.5 ft. wide and comprises 10 displays, including four main rectangular displays. The two side displays measure 20 ft. high by 31 ft. wide; the two end displays are 20 ft. high by 20 ft. wide. Rounding out the video-display structure are four corner wedge displays (each 20 x 2 ft.), an upper ring (3 x 118.5 ft.), and lower ring (3 x 112 ft.). Each of the 10 video displays incorporates a 6-mm pixel pitch.

“It’s been incredible for hockey,” says Starkey. “The picture is just amazing, and the guys are getting better and better at really maximizing the equipment in the room in each event. Each production gets even better, so it’s exciting.”

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The upgraded and enlarged video-control room handles 1080p feeds.

The Ducks tapped Diversified Systems to lead the charge on the video-control room and front-of-house–audio system. Diversified personnel accompanied Ducks folks to last year’s NAB Show to vet, demo, and compare equipment from various manufacturers.

“We were able to get demos on all the equipment at NAB, and then we just sat down with them and offered an engineering perspective: what’s your workflow? how do you work? how do you want to work? how many positions do you currently have?,” says Brad Fisher, senior account manager, Diversified Systems. “And then, [we] looked at the new technology and how it would impact staffing the room for productions.”

The 1080p control room features a Ross Video Acuity production switcher; Evertz EQX and EMR routing, terminal gear, and multiviewer; and Evertz DreamCatcher replay servers. For graphics, the team selected a combination of Ross Video XPression systems, Click Effects servers, and legacy ChyronHego graphics systems. Postproduction gear includes the Quantum StorNext file system, Levels Beyond Reach Engine for asset management, and 10GigE attached network switches and workstations. The Ducks added Ikegami HDK-95C cameras with Fujinon 55x lenses.

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New speaker arrays from JBL replace box speakers that had been in place for more than seven years.

Prior to the video-control room overhaul, the live-production area was cramped and difficult to maneuver. Honda Center’s operational staff was moved around, and the venue’s director of operations was relocated; his office was then transformed into the current rack room. Instead of having five or six racks within the live-production area to hold gear, the venue now has 16 in a separate rack room.

Diversified also worked with the team on audio testing, eventually opting for JBL Professionals VTX line arrays, Crown Power amps, and Yamaha audio consoles.

“The clarity now and the coverage are phenomenal,” says Starkey. “I get down to Row A with the configuration of the speaker cluster; it covers every area of the facility, and it is incredibly crisp.”

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An Ikegami HDK-95C camera

The project at Honda Center, completed prior to the 2015-16 NHL season, is the second major upgrade in the arena’s 22-year history. It also represents a coming home of sorts for Diversified Systems SVP Duane Yoslov, who helped to build the original control room in 1993 as part of Sony’s Jumbotron group.

“Honda Center has done a tremendous job at keeping that facility current and relevant and really not left behind,” he says. “Working across the sports market and going into pretty much every professional facility in the country, you see wide variations of commitment to upkeep, and I’d say that the Honda Center has done exceptionally well at keeping that facility current and relevant.”