Comcast Media Center
Versus launched as Outdoor Life Network (OLN) in 1995, rebranded to its current moniker in 2006 and has since become one of the fastest-growing sports cable networks in the country. Versus is the exclusive cable TV home of the NHL, IndyCar Series, Tour de France, World Extreme Cagefighting, Professional Bull Riders and airs college football from top conferences such as the Pac-10, Big 12 and Mountain West.
The growing demands pushed the legacy system to the limits. The broadcaster launched a shared HD channel with sister network Golf Channel in December 2007, known as Versus/Golf HD. To accommodate its own dedicated HD Channel, which launched in December 2008, Versus needed its own network operations facilities.The broadcaster, which is wholly owned by Comcast, built its new network operations center within the Comcast Media Center (CMC) in Denver. With the amount of live events rapidly increasing, it needed a network operations and transmission facility to accommodate both HD and SD playout, as well as provide for the blackout requirements of the various sports franchises.
The project had an aggressive schedule with only a few short months to design, build and cut over the master control and transmission systems within a greenfield space at CMC. After a thorough, competitive bid process, Diversified Systems was selected as the integrator for the project. Diversified was up to the challenge and brought the project in on time and on budget. Paul Koopman, vice president of engineering for Versus, says Diversified was “tremendous to work with and exceeded our expectations for the job.”
The system had to tie in seamlessly with the Versus Stamford, CT, file-based production facility. Using server technology from Omneon along with automation and asset management from Avid’s Sundance Digital, Diversified and the team from the CMC created an efficient and highly reliable system that leverages the workflow established in production. The flow of the space and the adjacencies of the various functions such as master control, feed coordination, ingest and media prep were primary concerns in laying out the floor plan. After several revisions, the team created an environment where the operations staff could visually monitor the aforementioned functional areas from a centralized work area without unnecessarily disrupting the operators.
Using Evertz’s MVP multiviewer, EQX router and its SNMP-based control system VistaLink, faults are alarmed and brought to the attention of the operator. At a glance, supervisors have a view of all functional areas and are able to confirm all channel programming and monitor the automation rundown.
Special consideration was given to the challenges of audio up/downmixing, allowing for proper preservation of stereo, SAP, ambient sound and 5.1 surround audio information. Linear Acoustic, Evertz and Omneon provided the key devices for maintaining content in its original state and storing ingested programs in the highest quality. As an example, this allowed released programs to be provided in native HD with the best downconversion of video and audio for SD release.
Submitted by Diversified Systems
Versus/Comcast Media Center (CMC): Paul Koopman, dir. of broadcast eng. Versus; Paul Catterson, sr. dir., broadcast eng. CMC; Lisa Gallagher, dir. of ops. CMC; Rich Rivera, sr. proj. eng. CMC; Jeff Hagney, broadcast applications eng. CMC
Diversified Systems : Mark Sackett, proj. mgr.; Jacques Verdier, sr. sys. eng.; Walt Thomas, installation supervisor
Technology at work
Avid Sundance Digital: Titan automation system
Avocent: KVM systems
Evertz: QMC MC switcher, MVP multiviewer; EQX routing switcher, Digital Peripherals
Linear Acoustic: Audio processing
Miranda: Vertigo XG graphics
Omneon: Spectrum servers
RTS/Telex: Intercom and communications
TBC Consoles: Consoles and monitor wall