Pac-12 Networks Brings Onsite, At-Home Production to Men’s Basketball Tournament

Data circuits offer souped-up connectivity between Las Vegas and San Francisco

Transmission has been the calling card for the Pac-12 Networks through its first four years, but, this week, during its coverage of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it is taking connectivity to the next level.

Using two of its Mio boxes, the P12N crew is leveraging a new partnership with the Zayo Group to use a TX 1-Gbps data circuit directly back to its San Francisco studios. Combine that with a TX 900-Mbps data circuit and a 1.5-Gbps video circuit from The Switch, and P12N is working with more bandwidth than it could have imagined.

The Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament is being held this week at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament is being held this week at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“We’ve never had this good of a network connection back to San Francisco,” says Scott Adametz, director, system architecture and technology, Pac-12 Networks. “It’s like an Ethernet cable that spans 500 miles. It’s the dream.”

The pipe that P12N is working with is so large that the engineering team is throwing all kinds of new elements at it. There is a 6X super-slow-motion camera working the games, and P12N is encoding and compressing the 6X signal and doing the actual ingest and replay on an EVS server in San Francisco. Operations has also linked the Evertz DreamCatchers in the truck onsite with DreamCatchers in the studios. That allows teams on both ends to browse each other’s content.

“We never would have been able to fit that on a circuit before,” says Adametz. “We are totally connected with our home studios and MGM. It’s been rock solid, just amazing.”

The Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of Pac-12 Networks’ marquee events, so there’s still a full onsite production at MGM Grand. A 53-ft. truck from NEP Broadcasting is onsite, but the transmission pipes allow P12N to virtually double production and enhancement capabilities and enable a wealth of tools and staff in San Francisco to be used in real time.

In the arena at MGM Grand, P12N has 15 video sources at its disposal for game coverage and another five covering locker rooms, scoreboard, and press conferences. Among the cameras are eight manned, two above-the-rim robots, two super-slo-mos (one a center-court handheld, the other a hard slash), three POVs, a roaming RF unit (featuring a Teradek wireless transmitter), and a 4K camera for high-speed and super-zoom replay that will be integrated into live game and studio coverage.

Onsite, P12N has five EVS units (two LSM, three RO) for instant replay, in addition to two DreamCatchers (one for 4K, the other for DC Logger file transfers to and from San Francisco). Clips recorded and edited in San Francisco will be imported into the truck EVS servers via an XFile3 on the truck, and DC Logger will be used to import/export clips to Evertz DreamCatchers in San Francisco and in Las Vegas in real time.

On the audio side, the event is be offered in 5.1 surround and will include microphones on selected coaches for added access.

In San Francisco, P12N artists will enhance the live game production with LiberVision and ChyronHego Paint and have access to the DreamCatcher network.