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Ross Video Team May 25, 2020 10:00:42 AM

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Living Live Podcast: Next-Level Game Day Production


On this episode of Living Live with Ross Video, host Tyler Kern was joined by Ross Video Director of Global Sports and Live Events.

Kern and Cottam centered their conversation on a key trend in the world of sports – the persistent growth and elevation of the in-home viewing experience, its impact on in-person, live sporting events, and how teams and leagues can elevate their fan experience and engagement strategies to wrestle control back from in-home options and innovations.

Specifically, Cottam highlighted how game day production at the event, itself, can bring fans back into arenas and stadiums across the globe.

“There’s a huge push to engage fans in that overall experience. … You’ve got your traditional production control room, where you’re cutting different cameras and showing different replays and things like that, (and) you’re showing statistics” he said. “And they would be different statistics and different camera shots (than) a typical broadcast would provide.”

Essentially, it’s critical to think about how staff can engineer a production specifically targeted at fans in the venue, then about how that production can be presented through cutting-edge LED displays and more.

The integration of more broadcast-centric equipment and AV solutions can also help, providing a cohesive, integrated system that provides consistency across productions and a simple way to ensure teams and stadiums are using cutting-edge technology to the best of their ability.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTOR: Kevin Cottam

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Podcast Transcript

Tyler Kern:

Hey, and welcome to Living Life With Ross Video. I'm Tyler Kern. I don't know about you but I vividly remember the first time that I went to a live sporting event, just being there in person, seeing the grass and having that experience. But these days, sports franchises are battling improving technology for the at home sports watching experience. And so teams are looking for ways to elevate their in stadium experiences. And we're going to be talking about that on this episode.

Tyler Kern:

And joining me today is Kevin Cottam is the director of global sports and live events for Ross Video.

Tyler Kern:

Kevin, thanks so much for joining me today.

Kevin Cottam:

Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So what are some of the ways that teams are really looking to elevate their live in game experiences when it comes to what they're doing with that experience and with the technology they have at their disposal?

Kevin Cottam:

Yeah. Well, one of the biggest ways is through video production. The LED displays that they have throughout. So pretty much every park will have or venue will have a main display or a center hung display, and they also have all the auxiliary displays. So cutting in game presentation, a video presentation that they've got all kinds of technology as far as the playback graphics they have. They also utilize all these different displays to try to add a lot of different data visualizations to the game day experience and being able to show fans out of town scores, a lot of next gen statistics, how fast the players moving, who's on the field when. There's a lot of different ways that you can enhance that production. Also, social media is another way that they're utilizing these days to engage fans. But really it's all through that video production and the LED displays that are in the venue.

Tyler Kern:

And you mentioned maybe the various aspects and the various ways that screens are used, but around the stadium or around a venue, there are so many different styles of screen. Whether it's ribbon boards around kind of underneath a second level or something like that that are showing the score or the time, things like that, or the main jumbotron and that sort of thing, like what you mentioned. There are all of these various places around the stadium for content to be shown. How can teams really best be utilizing all of the real estate they have around a stadium to the best of their abilities to create that experience?

Kevin Cottam:

Well, yeah. As you mentioned, there is all kinds of different displays, different size displays as well in a venue. Like I mentioned, we had those main displays or the center [inaudible 00:02:34] they'll typically have another display close to them, an auxiliary display, for instance. What Ross Video offers is basically a system that allows you to drive all of those displays all with realtime 3D graphics that can be connected to data and you can actually show that data on those displays and control them either through one system or multiple systems. So you can kind of divvy up the work. But it is a very scalable solution to be able to drive that with the real time graphics and also trigger all kinds of other events within the park.

Kevin Cottam:

So our expression tests are a system is used to drive those displays. And then we also have our dashboard control system. That's used to not only trigger those but also to trigger that tester system, but also to trigger other content, other third party devices within the park to manage it all. Because as you mentioned, there can be quite a few displays. In some facilities, we're driving as many as anywhere from 10 to 20, even 30 displays in a facility. So to be able to trigger them all and be able to manage them all, we use that dashboard control system.

Tyler Kern:

So yeah, that seems like a really big aspect of this to me. It's just the ability to bring everything into one scenario and really unify all of this under one roof, so that it's a little bit easier to manage, to maintain and to make sure that you're able to fire things off when they're supposed to happen at that exact right moment. That seems to be a big aspect of this is just bringing everything into that unified solution.

Kevin Cottam:

That's actually what we call it. So we do have our Tetra LED display control system. We also have our products in the control room. But when you combine the two, we do call it a unified venue control system because you have the ability to integrate the control room equipment with the LED control equipment. So utilizing the same graphics platform for your traditional CG, your LED main display, your LED ribbon boards, your AUX displays, your suite feeds and concourse feeds or external signage is all with the same platform. It's got the same design set. It's got the same data links. It's got the same integration with all the other devices so that you can basically trigger it all very, very quickly and accurately across multiple, really any number of displays. So that's really something that we brought to the table is being able to sync up as many displays as you want, frame accurately through our expression tester system, and then trigger that along with all kinds of other third party devices, even mechanical devices or water cannons, those types of things we all bring in to our dashboard control system.

Kevin Cottam:

So when that time does happen and that big moment happens, you've got a button push on your dashboard control system or your production switcher to trigger pretty much any event within the facility and sync it all up. So we've taken something that used to take multiple people at a count to three, two, one, and they'd all push their buttons to one person firing it from again a dashboard panel or a production switcher. So we really simplified that entire process.

Tyler Kern:

Right, right. I think that makes a lot of sense, especially just as you think about large events that happen in a stadium setting a touchdown, a home run and things like that. Having the ability to immediately trigger a lot of different scenes in various aspects I think makes a lot of sense and really helps unify that process. Are there ways of managing or are there ways of measuring the effect that implementing Ross's solution into a stadium atmosphere like this, a live production element, is there a way to measure how successful this is in terms of engaging fans and really upping and elevating that experience?

Kevin Cottam:

Yeah. Well, there's always just getting the feedback from the fans. A lot of leagues actually have different ways that they're rated on their game day production and their fan experience. Several of the NFL teams that we've worked with have reported back that they've gone from very low in the rankings to very high after utilizing our solution. Also many NBA and MLB teams have also mentioned sort of gaining room in the ranks as far as their game day production goes. I don't know if really sinking everything up is, that's a definite benefit to everything, but I think it's really the creative tool set with the expression tester system that it allows them to really be creative and sort of push the limits of their creative vision. I think that's really where things go.

Kevin Cottam:

We've even helped a lot of clients builds interactive games. So instead of just playing back a few video clips, depending on the answer, they're actually playing games within the stadium, which has been a huge hit with fans. But yeah, there's all kinds of different ways that teams do get that feedback from fans. And it's really gratifying to see how many teams have actually moved up in the ranks. And I know one team that we started working with a few years ago went from dead last to first right away. Again, we're not taking credit for any of that. We're just enabling them with the equipment and the feature set and the ability to do what they want creatively. So we don't want to take too much credit for it. We're just helping them out and trying to solve the problems and give them the tool set that they need to be successful.

Tyler Kern:

Do you have any big projects coming up or teams that you're working with that you're excited about, whether it's large scale stadiums or events or anything like that, or is there anything that you're working on right now that has you excited about the future?

Kevin Cottam:

Yeah. Well, there's a, there's a whole lot. The sports and live events team is involved with e-sports, we're involved with horse racing, all the venues sports. So sort of the big five would be the NFL, MLS, NBA, NHL, MLB. So we're going to be [inaudible 00:08:15] at a Cincinnati Reds stadium new production pretty soon whenever MLB does get back to play. But that's going to be another HDR facility. So we're excited about that one. We're working with the NFL Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. That's a really large size project that we're super excited about.

Kevin Cottam:

And then of course, we're working with the Rams and Chargers at SoFi Stadium. That stadium is massive. I think it's $3-$3.5 billion project thus far. And it's got this massive Oculus display that's in the center and there's actually LED on the exterior and interior of this display along with all the ribbon boards and all that type of stuff. So that one we're really excited about. That one's probably been about three years in the making. So we've actually seen it get lit up in the past week and they're running graphics on it. The Rams use it to actually show their schedule for the upcoming season.

Kevin Cottam:

So yeah, we've got lots of projects in the hopper. We've also got a few happening globally because what we're finding is that we've been doing this for a long time in North America, and it seems that in North America there's a lot bigger budgets to do this type of engagement. But we're also seeing that start to happen out in overseas and throughout Europe and the UK and whatnot. So lots of really fun projects on the horizon. Can't wait.

Tyler Kern:

So yeah, I think it's really incredible getting to hear about these huge and these large scale stadiums that are implementing Ross video Solutions, but is this something that can also be implemented on a smaller scale at a smaller stadium or smaller live event space? Is there still the same ability to utilize these solutions for a huge benefit?

Kevin Cottam:

We talk about all these large stadiums all the time, and they've got the large budgets. They're spending billions of dollars, not necessarily just with Ross. I just mean for the overall construction of the entire facility. But we also work with a lot of smaller teams. So we work with a lot of college sports because some of those college sports are even larger than the pros but a lot of tier two, smaller leagues, things like that. We work with the CFL and in Canada. We work with the CHL as well. So a lot of smaller teams, and what we can do is really take equipment.

Kevin Cottam:

So on the say SoFi Stadium where we're using multiple, dozens of basic render engines to drive that facility, we can take sort of an all in one system, like the carbonite graph or, sorry, the graphite and be able to use that to both do the control room production, the traditional CG clip playback as well as drive LED displays. So we can really fit the smallest sort of productions right up to the biggest in the world. And they all have the same feature set. So it's just a matter of really hardware and real estate that you're trying to cover. Other than that, it's the same feature set. So we can really drive any any facility for any different type of production. So the system is very scalable.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Well, from the biggest stadiums that are being built in the world to even some of the smaller ones, Ross Video has those solutions that are able to meet the needs that you're looking for when it comes to your live events. So it's an exciting time. It's exciting time to be part of this business. So Kevin Cottam, thank you so much for taking some time today to talk to me about it.

Kevin Cottam:

Right. Thank you.

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