In addition to CBS Sports headquarters and football streaming, the new studios carry linear CBS shows
As CBS Sports and CBS Sports Digital continue to grow their combined portfolio of live sports programming, the two entities are looking for new ways to effectively share studio and control room resources. With that in mind, CBS Sports Digital has relaunched its studios in Fort. Lauderdale, FL, and Stamford, CT, in time for the Fall 2022 football and Italian football seasons with major technology upgrades to sets and control rooms.
” We were looking at [studio operations] on a much higher level, not just our streaming shows, but also CBS Sports, football shows and anything related to the CBS family,” says Aaron Gillespy, Director, Engineering, CBS Sports Digital. “And we wanted to build facilities that would not only serve us today, but could change and adapt in the future.”
In addition to 24-hour live studio programming on CBS Sports HQ, the facilities also play an important role in streaming coverage of the UEFA Champions League, Serie A and other international football clubs on CBS Sports and Paramount+. Upgrades from both studios created a parallel setup across the Fort. Lauderdale and Stamford locations for a cohesive look for Serie A productions, CBS Sports HQ, Fantasy football todaySportsLine programming, and more.
“From a linear perspective, we saw a great opportunity to collaborate and bring the streaming and linear teams together,” says Mike Francis, Vice President, Engineering and Technology, CBS Sports. “We don’t have the footprint of additional studio space here at the CBS Broadcast Center and the BMW Building. [in New York City]. Being able to have a multi-purpose facility that we can leverage has been great for linear production teams while creating a better product for streaming.
Inside the workshop: LED Wall With Three-Curves offers versatility and quality
With a three-curve LED wall on set and nimble control room designs, the two near-identical studios can transition seamlessly from show to show in minutes.
“The beauty of these installations is that we can mix and match,” says Gillespy. “We can have football in the morning, CBS Sports HQ in the afternoon, more football right behind, then highlights for HQ or other groups in the evening. Because it’s LED with minimal decor, just flick a switch to switch between shows.
With the 35 million pixel and 1.8 DPI LED wall, CBS Sports HQ and other broadcasts can produce a higher quality studio design that matches the level of linear programming from CBS and CBS Sports Network.
The studio is equipped with five Sony HCP-P50 cameras with Canon CJ15ex4.3B, CJ17ex6.2B and CJ20ex5B lenses; three Ross Video CamBot robotic camera bases; an Egripment TDT crane; and an ARRI Artemis 2 camera stabilizer with Vislink Tx/Rx and RCP wireless control.
513 Partner/Principal Tom Lenz was hired to design the studio, and the systems integration was done in-house, led by Keith Pryor, CBS Sports Senior Digital Systems Administrator. Other key vendors include Fuse and DetailLED solutions for LED panels and Showman Fabricators for scenery manufacturing.
“After doing rehearsals for the first time with graphics, it didn’t feel like we were looking,” says Gillespy. “But thanks to the flexibility of the LED wall, within a week the graphics group had created a whole new look for the set, giving it an absolutely different feel. Within two weeks we had gone through three or four iterations of a look different for the set it would have taken us months to change in the past there was no paint color change or equipment swap it was just the graphics group that designed it and which had brought the change almost instantly.
Inside the Control Room: Serving Live Productions Large and Small
The control room is built around a Ross Ultrix Accuity mixer and includes Ross Xpression for on-air graphics and Ross Tessera for studio LED displays, Evertz DreamCatcher replay systems, a Grass Valley routing/orchestration system GVOrbit and a Calrec Brio audio console.
“You have the ability to move from a more linear style production for football with a fully equipped control room and studio to head office production, which is on a more efficient scale on back-to-back broadcasts,” says Francis. . “The [CBS Sports Digital] the team did a great job of making it a flexible control room space. Smaller scale shows can run as few as a few people, or we can fill each bench with a full crew like you would see in a larger linear network production. They did a great job of flexibility.
To meet the tight launch schedule at the start of the American Football and Italian Football seasons, the studio has gone live in HD-SDI, but the entire facility has an upgrade path to SMPTE ST 2110 as well as to 4K and HDR.
“We landed on HD-SDI to meet that deadline, but there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t use 2110 for both at all times,” says Gillespy. “Everything has a snap upgrade path. The wall itself supports 4K, the processors support both 4K and HDR, the lenses are already 4K, and the cameras run at 1080i but with a license available for 4K. So everything is ready to go if we decide to go in that direction.
From Connecticut to Florida to New York to the Cloud: Connecting Everything Together
Flight. The Lauderdale and Stamford facilities are linked together and with the CBS broadcast center via the same RTS communications system. In addition, the three facilities are connected to each other for IP video transport.
Additionally, CBS Sports Digital’s use of Grass Valley GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) for cloud-based master control and broadcast is one of the most innovative aspects of its live production operation. It not only provides a central workflow for both studios, but also allows master control operators to manage multiple game streams directly from home.
“We’re completely cloud-based for this part,” says Gillespy. “All correspondence from the cloud stays in the cloud; there is no reason to bring him back to the premises. The master control, the [SCTE-35] the advertising insertion, the slate and the launch of the whole [production] or knocking it down is all in the cloud. This is to the point that, while all 32 UEFA Champions League teams are playing at the same time, one operator is running four events each from their home.
“We can create a channel depending on the need for this event,” he continues. “If there is a hot period and we need to support CBS Sports, it’s a click of a button, and we can launch a new channel as you wish. Everything is very agile, very fast, very redundant and multi-regional .
With the new studios up and running, CBS Sports’ linear and digital TV teams are exploring next steps and possible synergies between the two. Although Francis says there are currently no official plans to produce a linear television production for CBS or CBS Sports Network broadcast from Fort. Lauderdale or Stamford studios, he notes that “the capacity is definitely there in terms of equipment and workflow.
“We work more and more hand in hand every year, whether it’s a major event or potential studio collaborations,” he adds. “I think it brings the digital side to a level of ease consistent with what we do on the broadcast and cable side. That, coupled with increased connectivity and having common technologies between us, will open up opportunities for everyone. Especially as football programming becomes more prevalent on our digital and linear platforms, having more resources in the CBS family is going to help our production teams.
Stay tuned to sportsvideo.org for more in-depth coverage of CBS Sports Digital’s cloud-based broadcast and master control workflows.