Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic’s facility expands live production capabilities
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic in Bethesda, MD, is a 24-hour cable sports network. Systems integrator Beck Associates helped design, integrate and install all equipment and consoles in the network’s new origination facility, which is almost double the size of the previous one. The new facility includes a studio, a central equipment room with more than 50 racks, fi ve master control rooms, a production control room, three post-production editing rooms, a news content playback room and nine editing suites.
The facility needed to provide greater fl exibility in program distribution, while improving the quality of service to viewers; expand live production capability and allow for a seamless transition to HD in the near future; and help Comcast SportsNet go tapeless.
The new system is wideband digital at its core. Harris’ NEXIO server system provides storage, editing and playout of news content. The server offers extensive third-party integration and open standards for a high degree of interoperability.
Servers play out program material in SD and HD. Program content is brought in via fiber or satellite and played directly to air or recorded on SD or HD NEXIO servers for later playback. News content is also acquired via satellite or fiber. Material is ingested into the server in SD, edited on Harris NewsFlash high-res craft and news editors and stored on NEXIO.
NewsFlash eliminates the need to wait for transfers, dubs or field tapes. NEXIO can play out NewsFlash clips as soon as they begin copying to disk. Working in conjunction with Avid iNEWS, content is played back to air using Harris’ MOS Playlist Manager. NEXIO Pilot controls and monitors. HD master control helps produce HD programming.
Networking is key in the new facility. Most devices can communicate with one another over Ethernet. More than 90 percent of the communications between devices in the facility is over a TCP/IP network. This eliminated a great deal of serial cabling, the space required to support it and the associated hardware.
The facility houses more than 150 Sony displays of various sizes. Many displays needed to be multiplexed from different sources. To lower costs, multiple, smaller monitor muxes were installed, resulting in a fl exible, high-res display.
The new facility supports multiple forms of Dolby audio, both internally, and in its transmission paths. HD content is recorded and played back via server or Sony HDCAM tape with Dolby E intact.
The transition was smooth, and editors now ingest, cut and air stories without ever seeing tape. The facility produces half of its games in HD.