UK-based video control solutions specialist, SNP Productions has supplied eight Mac-Mini Catalyst media servers for Miami and Los Angeles-based Roca Video (http://www.rocavideo.com) and their client Univision Network's broadcast studio for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Roca Video is the exclusive video production company for Univision Network, the largest Spanish language TV channel in the US and who is covering all 64 World Cup matches live as well as producing their regular sports news show, “Contacto Deportivo” from their temporary South African base.
The studio is located at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) at NASREC, adjacent to the new Soccer City stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, where the tournament kicked off and where the final will be held on July 11th.
SNP was approached by Roca Video, through their chief engineer and UK-based technical video consultant Ian Henderson, who was asked to specify the equipment needed for the studio. Henderson and SNP's Simon Pugsley co-designed the Catalyst system, which integrates in to the studio set, designed by Univision's Will Rothfuss.
The elegant and stylish studio design features seven 65 inch plasma screens positioned behind the presenters, which show a single 13,440 x 1080 pixel wide screen image of different locations including: Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Rustenburg, Johannesburg and the various stadiums - all at different times of the day. Univision required a dynamic 'virtual' location with the ability to change the background scenery prior to each match broadcast and studio coverage.
SNP specially configured seven of the Mac-Mini servers with solid state hard drives and supplied Catalyst v4 licences to provide a single 1080p HD DVI feed to each of the 65 inch plasma screens. The servers are networked together and controlled by a grandMA light console via ArtNet, operated by Alba Vallés Novella, engineer for the project.
All the content is supplied by Univision Network's roving RED cameraman Champ Barton, who visited numerous locations across South Africa involved in hosting the matches. The RED camera footage was then edited down to 6 minute loops, which are stored on the Catalysts' solid state drives.
The challenge was to expand the 4000 pixel wide RED image by just over 3 times to the match the 13,440 pixel resolution required to cover all seven 1920 x 1080 plasma screens. That's why Henderson recommended Catalysts from SNP Productions as the best solution.
The seven Mac-Mini Catalyst servers are specially configured to allow synchronous playback of a 4096 pixel movie file which is imported and edited from the RED camera. Each server displays an offset portion of the whole RED movie file, on to one of the seven 1080p 65in plasma screens.
The eighth server runs a series of monitors around the studio, positioned above the plasma screens. The monitors display animated flags representing the countries playing the live match as well as Univision and FIFA branding.
A further Univision MacPro Catalyst server provides control to a number of set lighting features including a total of 57 VersaTUBES, 68 Colour Kinetics Powercore LED fixtures and Barco O-lite LED screen, also supplied by Roca Video.
The O-Lite LED screen is configured as a ticker-tape banner and displays up-to-the-minute scores and branding, fed from a laptop via an Active Silicon HD-SDI capture card in to the Catalyst.
Henderson says, "I asked SNP to supply the Catalysts as Simon (Pugsley) offers a very efficient service and I also like his approach to packaging the equipment."
Henderson and Vallés Novella spent a week at SNP's new warehouse in Milton Keynes making use of the new facilities while preparing and configuring the whole system prior to departing to South Africa. Henderson concludes: “This was an invaluable opportunity to assemble and fully test the entire system".
Will Rothfuss worked closely with Univision lighting designer Allan Warhaftig to develop the stunning concepts that have made SNP and Roca Video's implementation and design of Univision Network's studio one of the most visually versatile broadcast hubs of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
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