Once Studio 70 was in place, TKA Chief Technology Officer Rob Danley started planning a way to use it to broadcast TKA Lions’ football games to the larger community.
“We have a great team and everyone loves to watch the games, even if they can’t always attend,” he explains. “A few years ago, we started live streaming the games with a very basic setup, but Think Simple has helped us take it to a new level.”
Truly a powerhouse, the Lions went undefeated in 2016 and earned the Southeastern Football Conference championship.
With the help of Think Simple and United Data Technologies, Danley and his staff began the video upgrade by running 12 strands of single-mode fiber optic cable about ¼ mile from the studio to the announcer’s booth in the stadium, ready for hookup of a Blackmagic 4K Video Hub and related gear.
In the meantime, Think Simple technicians upgraded three of the school’s older HD cameras with Teradek wireless transceivers and larger batteries, so the student broadcast club could put them anywhere on the field during a home game. They also installed two more Blackmagic Hyperdecks in the studio, to allow solid-state recording and archiving of the games. The new system was ready for the fall, 2016 season.
For the fall of 2017, Think Simple replaced these older cameras with Blackmagic 4K cameras, also equipped with Teradek wireless transceivers.
“Today our kids are able to sit in the studio control room and produce the game just like the TV networks,” Danley says. “They can talk to people on the field, direct the shots, add graphics and special effects. They even produce live halftime commentary, using our three studio cameras.”
The broadcasts have been very well received by parents and the community, and better still, the productions give the student crews on-the-job training in live production.
Think Simple also installed a new sound system in the stadium, using Community loudspeakers, down-firing subwoofers and QSC amplifiers. “We put microphones in the stands for the band, and they sound massive coming through the speakers,” says Think Simple partner Will Gilbert.
“I was surprised to see the subwoofer, which is the size of a small refrigerator,” Danley says. “The sound is amazing, remarkably clean and free from distortion.”
The staff did notice one problem soon after the system was installed: one of the wireless cameras kept cutting out, losing its connection with the receiver in the booth. “It turned out to be a problem with bandwith – the manufacturer had not allocated enough spectrum to serve three cameras,” Danley recalls. Think Simple sent a technician who measured the frequency of the radio transmissions on game nights and then worked with the factory on a firmware upgrade.
“I love that they stuck with it until they had a solution, and that’s made it possible for us to produce a great show,” Danley says.
For next year, he says, Think Simple has worked out a way to live-broadcast away games. “We’ll take our cameras on the bus, then using cellular technology, link to the cloud and relay the video to the studio. From there, we’ll use our streaming server to show the games to the community.”
Danley says he plans to continue using Think Simple for additional projects. “I got to know their engineers and installers and was impressed on how they handled themselves when we had a problem. I never had to call or browbeat anyone, never got any runaround. They just took care of it…They’re good guys who know what they’re doing.”