Coral Gables is one of Miami, Florida's most colourful and storied neighbourhoods. Nested in the historic area is the University of Miami (UM), a research institution with an impressive student enrolment of 17,000 and the renowned Hurricane's Athletics program.The ESPN sports channel officially launched its ACCN (ACC Network) in August 2019 and leveraged the cable/satellite network to broadcast Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sporting events, including the University of Miami's own Hurricanes NCAA Division I sports. The new strategy stacks efficiencies throughout the workflow, production, and broadcasts chains. For example, rather than ESPN rolling a broadcast truck to the campus, University of Miami can now contribute its own, live, linear HD production to the network.
To build a system that was robust, compliant with ESPN's exacting HD specs, and flexible enough to support the new programming opportunity, the Athletics Department at the University of Miami completed a massive upgrade of its digital broadcasting facilities in the Hecht Athletics Centre on UM's Coral Gables campus.
Midtown Video, the established integration firm and UM's long-time vendor-partner, was commissioned for the design, installation, systems integration, and management of an end-to-end workflow that enables centralised production of games being played in multiple athletics venues across its campus. A Dante system now connects the audio from various locations. Two control rooms – Control Rooms A and B – were also on deck for updates.
The Midtown Video team—including AV Specialist Alex Guirola, and Video Systems Engineer Hernan Polo—was led by the company's Chief Technology Officer Jesse Miller, CTS. Miller brought vital knowledge of the AV industry and applied his best-practices acumen to identify the products that offered the best mix of price and performance for UM.
For the Midtown Video Team, the biggest challenge on this complex project was scaling. "We had to introduce Decimators in order to change certain 1080p signals to 720p signals to match the rest of the incoming sources," Miller explains. The team's deep knowledge and access to the right tools helped UM hit every goal."
One of the best-of-breed products selected was Datapath's VSN1172 videowall controller tapped with 16x SDI inputs, 2x DisplayPort inputs, and 4x HDMI inputs. The VSN1172 powers the stunning 14-monitor videowall, with two rows of 55-inch monitors.
According to Miller, Datapath's VSN1172 was chosen for a variety of reasons, namely its "stability for a broadcast environment." Miller also appreciates "Datapath's variety of input types – SDI, DisplayPort, and HDMI spread out on the same wall."
Datapath's solution played another pivotal role: helping the client optimize existing technology rather than a complete rip-and-replace. The end result is a smart mix of upgrading older products and integrating brand new technology and incorporating it all into the same video application in the University Control Room.
The success of the project was summarised by Drew Thomas, Director of Production Services for the University of Miami. "The control rooms and other infrastructure that Midtown designed, built, and integrated covered all our bases in the most streamlined, ergonomic, and cost-effective way," he said. "They really nailed it."