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Harvard Athletics Upgrades Video Production and Streaming

With a *LOT* of help from with Blackmagic Design technologies
Harvard University, a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is well known throughout the world for its history, influence and prestige. And if Imry Halevi has anything to say about it, Harvard will also be known for its cutting edge athletic video production and streaming capabilities. 



Imry joined Harvard in the fall of 2012 as the university's Director of Multimedia and Production for the Department of Athletics, and he quickly set out to revamp the way the Crimson handled their video production and streaming. He began by upgrading Harvard's outdated video infrastructure, and as part of the new system he installed several Blackmagic Design products, including a Compact Videohub router, six ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K switchers, a Micro Videohub router, six UltraStudio Mini Recorders, an ATEM Television Studio and more than 25 Mini Converters.  

Centralizing the Control  

One of the first things Imry did to begin the upgrade was install a Blackmagic Design Compact Videohub router to power the control room for some of the school's more mainstream sports: football, hockey and lacrosse. The router is used for all back and forth traffic between the venues, as well as inside the control room for switcher and instant replay signals.  Compact Videohub includes 40 x 40 SDI routing in a 2 rack unit size with auto SD, HD and 3 Gb/s HD-SDI detection, re-clocking, with built in Ethernet, USB and serial router control interfaces. 




"The Videohub router has been amazing and a key piece of our new infrastructure," said Imry. "It's very easy to use and yet it allows us to connect everything in the control room and easily convert between sports. It is also so affordable and allowed us to stick to our budget for the upgrade."  

But before the Videohub could control all three of these sports, Imry actually had to combine two of Harvard's SD video control rooms that were running independently from one another. One was located in Harvard Stadium (home of football and lacrosse games) and the other in the Bright-Landry Hockey Center across the street. Knowing how expensive it would be to add new, upgraded equipment into each room separately, Imry instead turned them into one centralized control room.   

To do so, he ran 12 single mode and 12 multimode fiber optic cables from the hockey center to the new master control room in Harvard Stadium. Four HD-SDI signals are sent from the stadium and four HD-SDI signals come back to the stadium, with each signal carrying four audio channels. Blackmagic Design Mini Converters embed the audio signals in the HD-SDI signals, which are then converted to standard four-wire audio and two-wire intercom.   

In this control room, Imry also installed an ATEM Television Studio to provide a video sub-mix for hockey games, which is used by both the men's and women's coaches for scouting purposes.  From the new control room, the video production team produces two shows: an in house video board show and a live streaming show for the Web. This same setup has also been used by the Harvard team to produce lacrosse productions for ESPN3 this past season.  

More Pieces of the Puzzle  

The control room for the basketball court is still separate from the other three main sports, so the basketball control room features a Blackmagic Design Micro Videohub to connect all of the equipment that controls the basketball games.  Micro Videohub includes 16 x 16 SDI routing, auto standard detection for SD, HD and 3 Gb/s HD-SDI, re-clocking, with built in Ethernet, USB and serial router control interfaces.  

Imry also installed six Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorders for signal capture into Macbook Pros for streaming all of the athletic department's non control room productions, including soccer, field hockey, volleyball, water polo, swimming & diving, rowing, softball and wrestling. 



Taking Tennis to the Next Level


In addition to upgrading video for more mainstream sports, Imry began to investigate how to enhance video for other sports as well. In fact, Harvard recently began streaming tennis matches online with the use of six Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K switchers.  

"Our tennis coach approached me about streaming tennis matches online, so I did a lot of research to find the best solution," said Imry. "I needed something with a DVE channel and something that added audio, and I found that the ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K was by far the best solution for us."  

Imry purchased one unit for each of the six indoor tennis courts at Harvard's Murr Center facilities. Each court has a camera at one end for a wide angle shot, which is fed into the ATEM. Each switcher also has an audio input for the an optional commentators' feed, as well as another video input for a shot of the scoreboard, which is used as part of the score bug DVE effect.  

Imry is even able to link the ATEMs to share scoreboard shots. The tennis center houses two scoreboards, one scoreboard for each set of three tennis courts, and during matches, scoreboard feeds are input into an ATEM switcher, then connected to the other switchers via an auxiliary output. HDMI feeds from the switchers are outputted to a Teradek VidiU online streaming box for streaming directly to the web. Imry controls everything remotely with the ATEM Software Control Panel.

Harvard University is the first, and so far the only, school to stream tennis matches on the new conference wide Ivy League Digital Network.

"The ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K does what I need it to do at such an affordable price," said Imry. "The switcher is also very powerful and has a lot of scalability. I will be able to expand on what we are doing now as the seasons go on. Just like all of the Blackmagic Design products we've installed, I am very happy with it."

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Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, ATEM 2 M/E Production Switcher, ATEM 2 M/E Production 4K switcher, Videohub, Sports Broadcasting

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