Tomorrow marks the beginning of Glorious Goodwood, one of the highlights of the racing year, that quintessentially British race meeting famous for its charm, relaxed chic and those Panama hats.
With action replays, simulcasts and highlights packages broadcasting a major sporting event is a huge undertaking so we thought we’d take a look at how our friends over the pond manage the transmission of their biggest race meet, The Kentucky Derby.
Mira Replay delivers across the board at Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby
Most people know Churchill Downs as the home of the Kentucky Derby, one of the longest running and most prestigious thoroughbred horse races in the country. In fact, the Kentucky Derby draws more than 165,000 guests to Churchill Downs on race day. The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
Everyone who visits this legendary racetrack gets to experience The Big Board — one of the world’s largest video screens. That’s one of the places they’ll find, among other things, a simulcast of each race followed by replays of its most significant moments, from paddock to starting gate to winner’s circle and beyond.
Producing all of that video keeps the Churchill Downs production crew quite busy. We spoke to Colin Trask, simulcast production manager at Churchill Downs, who just completed his 16th Kentucky Derby production. Trask gave us some insight into the venue’s production operation and his team’s use of Mira Replay; Abekas’ multi-camera instant replay server for live events and sports broadcasting.
Colin Trask, simulcast production manager at Churchill Downs, just completed his 16th Kentucky Derby production, using the Abekas Mira Replay.
First, please describe your production operation.
We produce the simulcast signal that’s seen throughout Churchill Downs and at other racetracks and casinos throughout the country. Besides displaying the odds and wagering tools for the different race categories, we also show video of the races themselves. That video includes quick replays that run right after the race and, a little later on, long replays that show both pan and head-on views of the final 1/8 mile, a slow-motion gate break, and an ISO of the leading horses as they cross the finish line.
For a long time we’d been working out of a production truck because we used to travel around handling shows for other racetracks. We haven’t done that in several years, though, so it was time to replace the aging truck with a permanent studio full of upgraded equipment.
And adding Mira Replay was part of that upgrade. How are you using it?
Our Mira Replay server has a total of eight inputs and outputs. We’re set up to receive five inputs — the program feed, the ME/clean feed, a tilt pan camera, the winner’s circle camera, and an aux feed that records the edited version of the head-on replay. Right now we’re only using two of the other three I/Os as outputs — one to the production switcher and another for previews. We’re considering networking into our graphics computer, which generates many of the elements that we like to record. The beauty of the Mira Replay machine is that we can easily make changes like that because it’s flexible enough to adapt instantly to whatever configuration we choose.
What can you do with Mira Replay that you couldn’t do before? Is there anything about Mira Replay that’s especially important to your workflow?
One of the great things about Mira Replay is that it records continuously, so we capture everything. Our old machine only recorded when you hit the button, which made it easy to miss things. If the operator got distracted or otherwise missed a significant moment, it was gone forever. But now, if something gets past the operator, or if we decide we want a certain clip after the fact, we can go back and retrieve it. With so much going on in a live workflow, that’s a big advantage. We have to pay close attention to space management on our hard drive as a result, but it’s well worth it. There were numerous times on opening night and the next day — our first live runs with Mira Replay — when we were really glad we had that feature.
Being able to set an end point on all clips that are recording helps keep things streamlined. With Mira Replay we can set the end point on several clips all at once, whereas with the old server we had to set separate in and out points, one at a time, for each clip.
How was it to learn Mira Replay?
We’re set up for a single operator to run the machine almost exclusively through the GUI, as opposed to using the control panel. The server went live on the season’s opening night, a week before the Kentucky Derby. A last-minute switch meant that I had to step in to the operator position instead of the person who had been trained on Mira Replay. Thanks to a lot of support from Mike Kljucaric, the Abekas Product Specialist who answered all my questions, I got comfortable using Mira Replay within the week, so everything went smoothly on Derby day.
Any parting thoughts?
The Mira Replay server was an excellent value. It gives us the perfect combination of flexibility, speed, and performance. We got everything we would have needed from a more expensive machine at a more affordable price.
Abekas broadcast solutions are available in the UK exclusively from BPS
To purchase Abekas products and “Broadcast with Confidence” visit https://bps-tv.co.ukbrand/abekas/ for more information.
Latest version of video transport software also enables faster file transfers
Dejero, an innovator in cloud-managed solutions that simplify the transport of live video and real-time data across remote or mobile IP networks, today announced a major new release of LIVE+ Core, the software at the heart of its industry-leading products. Version 4.0 is debuting this week at NAB Show 2016, and adds significant new capabilities to the LIVE+ platform of products including closed captioning, an enhanced congestion control algorithm, and faster transport of files.
“We are continuously evolving the software that powers our LIVE+ video transport platform based on the feedback we actively seek from our loyal and passionate customers,”
said Brian Cram, CEO at Dejero.
“They drive us to keep innovating in video quality and transmission reliability, while challenging us to simplify the transport of content from remote locations. The LIVE+ Core 4.0 release further demonstrates our commitment to helping them tackle the news and content delivery challenges they face daily.”
With closed captioning now required in many markets for live, near-live, and pre-recorded on-air and online content, LIVE+ Core 4.0 supports HD-SDI and SD-SDI feeds carrying CEA-708-B closed captioning. Closed captioning streams fed to a LIVE+ Transceiver, VSET or GoBox at one location can be transported over IP networks and output to a LIVE+ Broadcast Server or Transceiver at another location. The feature is also compatible with LIVE+ Multipoint streams when simultaneously sharing live content amongst broadcast stations.
Version 4.0 features an enhanced congestion control algorithm that responds and adapts to changes in throughput across IP networks, while quickly responding to loss in bandwidth. This provides more stable and reliable throughput on congested or constrained satellite networks and Ethernet links. The maximum transport bandwidth has also been increased to 30 Mbps making it much faster to transfer recorded video and other files from the field to the broadcast facility, helping news crews and video professionals meet their deadlines.
Also with this update, LIVE+ Core supports the new user-changeable SIM module available for LIVE+ EnGo transmitters, integration with GV STRATUS video production and content management system, and adds real-time analytics that appear in LIVE+ Control.
The software update is available at the end of April and is free to all Dejero customers with support plans.
Customers interested in updating their existing LIVE+ transmitters and servers should contact the Dejero support team at BPS on 020 8941 1199 to schedule an update.
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LIVE+ Control adds real-time analytics, flexible usage reporting and GV STRATUS integration
Dejero, has also introduced this week a series of new enhancements to its LIVE+ Control management system. The update, linked to the release of version 4.0 of LIVE+ Core software, has been unveiled at NAB Show 2016.
“LIVE+ Control is a powerful operational tool to centrally and remotely manage a broadcaster’s contribution assets,”
said Brian Cram, CEO at Dejero.
“With the latest update, we’ve added to the management, monitoring, and routing capabilities to provide users with even greater insights into the usage and performance of their field transmitters.”
LIVE+ Control simplifies the workflows of going live from remote locations and transporting recorded content to the broadcast facility over bonded IP networks including cellular, Wi-Fi, Ethernet or satellite. The simple-to-use web interface allows operators to quickly identify, geolocate, and remotely control transmitters, configure on-premises and cloud servers, monitor both the mix and the health of the IP network connections, and route content to SDI or online playout workflows.
The latest update enhances monitoring and reporting capabilities, displaying real-time analytics of network connection performance and overall transmission quality for each Dejero transmitter. This information allows operators in the broadcast facility to assess the shot and optimize transmitter settings before beginning the remote broadcast. Combined with geolocation information, the success of historic shots from specific locations can also be reviewed to help plan future shots.
Users can now define, filter, and save specific reports, aggregating transmitter details and usage for historical live streams, recorded clips, and file transfers to understand utilization patterns by hour, day, month or year. Reports can be customized to focus on specific transmitters and timeframes, providing stations and groups with the level of detail they require.
As previously announced, Dejero has collaborated with Grass Valley to embed LIVE+ Control into the GV STRATUS video production and content management system. This allows users to move recorded clips from a LIVE+ Broadcast Server to the STRATUS Express server. Files are automatically transcoded to the desired format for previewing and use. Working together, Dejero and Grass Valley are simplifying the overall file-based workflow to meet the needs of news production.
Dejero is demonstrating the enhancements to LIVE+ Core along with the new functionality of LIVE+ Control right now at booth N2918, NAB Show 2016, so if you’re in the desert pop in and see for yourself.
Sky Sports uses two, eight-channel Mira Instant Replay servers and two Mira Control Surfaces in their Sky Sports News HQ newsroom.
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The Mira Instant Replay servers are operated by a team of news production assistants round the clock, seven days a week. The Mira operators are not traditional live Instant Replay production team members, so need an intuitive, easy-to-use and comfortable interface.
The operator makes programming decisions based on the live content on, and creates a playlist for, each Sky Sports channel in real time. All eight playlists are simultaneously played back to the video wall on the set of the Sky Sports News HQ studio where presenters can remotely control the rolling of the clips using an HTML 5 app on their tablet devices.
The Sky Sports Cricket Department has also used an eight-channel Mira server and controller to create montages to appear in on-set monitors in their programming.
Ian Brash, Technical Manager for Sky Sports News:
“In use for up to 20 hours a day for over a year the Abekas Mira systems have been reliable with no on-air faults. The Miras have adapted to every change of workflow as the creative requirements have evolved.”
Junaid Sheikh, CEO of Abekas, adds,
“We are very pleased that the Mira Instant Replay servers are meeting the demanding expectations of Sky Sports technical and operations staff, it’s gratifying to see that Abekas’ company and product reputation is being recognized by marquee European broadcast customers like Sky Sports.”
Mira gets connected with version 5.6 release.
The new release for Mira Replay and Mira Production servers includes integrations designed to simplify your production workflow. Mira customers can download the new software free of charge:
- Evertz routing switcher – control the router from your Mira
- Ross Dashboard – browse and playback Mira clips
- Ross OpenTruck – rapid reconfiguration from event to event
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Broadcast with Confidence
Live TV—there are no second chances. That’s why when you absolutely, positively need the show to go on, you should rely on Abekas products and reputation. That’s a reputation earned from years of delivering cutting edge technology and dependability you can trust. This is why Abekas has earned the respect and kudos from thousands of customers the world over.
Abekas designs, manufactures, sells, and supports a complete line of professional HD/SD digital video/audio equipment.
The Abekas product line includes: digital video/audio production servers; digital video/audio delay machines for live-broadcast profanity elimination; digital video/audio disk recorders; digital video special effects systems; and digital video/audio editing equipment.
Abekas equipment is intended for use in the worldwide professional television marketplace encompassing live production, post production, live broadcasting and computer video markets.
SFA State University Installs Abekas Mira Instant Replay Server
Korbin Pate, coordinator, athletic video productions, SFA, inside the department’s new centralized control room
SFA’s control room connects to four venues on campus and is designed off the ESPN3 production model. Lumberjacks produced nearly 40 games with newly constructed centralized control room.
Korbin Pate never could have imagined it would all happen this quickly. The coordinator of athletic video productions at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA), a Division I “mid-major” and member of the Southland Conference, was directing a men’s basketball game that was streaming live to ESPN3 when he received a text from Chris Mycoskie, an assistant commissioner at the conference office: “You’re on ESPNU!”
Working in a control room that, just a handful of months ago, was an empty space inside the university’s William R. Johnson Coliseum, Pate was directing a nationally televised broadcast.
“It was everything we envisioned and more when we went into this agreement,” says Pate, who has served as the athletic department’s video coordinator since graduating from the university in 2012.
Working with designer and project overseer, Idibri, Pate and the athletic department designed a control room and connected 24 strands of fibre to soccer, volleyball, basketball, and football venues.
“We believe this is the only way for a school like us to keep up,” says Pate, “and we think this will continue to be a trend across the industry.”
Access Hollywood Creates On-Screen Magic with 20 channels of Abekas Mira Server
When Access Hollywood relocated to their new premises in Universal City the production team received a graphics boost with the addition of 20 channels of Abekas Mira Production Video Server. With three daily shows the Mira Servers are kept pretty busy. The Access Hollywood team produce a morning show, an afternoon show and a live show that is aired at 6:00pm on the east coast and then airs at various time slots across the country and then the world.
The 20 channels of Mira Server are divided into three working groups. Four channels are used to feed on-set displays and provide graphics backup. Eight channels are used in a video/key configuration to play back graphics throughout each show. Four channels are dedicated to the switcher that controls the Mira directly to recall opening graphics and transitions with audio. The remaining four channels are used for graphics backup.
“The Mira is the perfect tool for the job. It’s easy to use and technically very reliable. Getting everything ready for the switch to the new facility in July this year was a struggle, but we made it happen thanks to products like the Mira that just work as advertised,” said Erick Diaz, Technical Operations Manager, Access Hollywood/NBC Universal.
With a free software upgrade, all Mira Servers can now provide up to nine user-defined media file export destinations with single-button export operation from the Mira Control Surface. These user-defined media export destinations can target any network device connected to a Gigabit Ethernet port and/or a USB2 or USB3 port in the Mira Replay Server.
The full Abekas range, including the Mira server are all available to buy via the BPS website here. Or phone our sales staff for more details on 020 8941 1199.
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