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Toronto Blue Jays Inject Energy Into Rogers Centre With New 1080p HDR-Capable Control Room, Videoboard


Toronto Blue Jays Inject Energy Into Rogers Centre With New 1080p HDR-Capable Control Room, Videoboard This is the club's newest scoreboard since 2005, newest control room since 2011 By Kristian Hern ndez, Senior Editor

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - 7:00 am

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In the home stretch of the 2022 MLB regular season, the Toronto Blue Jays are one of three Wild Card teams in the American League. With half of their remaining 12 games to be played at Rogers Centre, the club expects an extra boost of adrenaline not only from the home crowd but also from an in-venue show driven by a brand-new 1080p HDR-capable control room and centerfield videoboard.

The Toronto Blue Jays have upgraded their control room at Rogers Centre for the first time since 2011.

I'm really happy with how everything turned out, says Mike Christiansen, director, technical production and broadcast services, Toronto Blue Jays. I'm proud of the way that our crew adapted to going from half of an HD frame to this gigantic display.

Shifted Timeline: COVID Delays Project Two Years The project implementing the franchise's newest scoreboard in 17 years and the newest control room in more than a decade has been three years in the making. After the contract was awarded to Alpha Video in 2019, the process was brought to a screeching halt in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. And the plan ended up being transformed: originally calling for an IP-centric control room, it transitioned to a 1080p, HDR-capable baseband facility.

During the pandemic upheaval, the organization was in and out of Rogers Centre: in the shortened 2020 season, playing 21 games at TD Ballpark, its Spring Training home, in Dunedin, FL, and, in 2020 and 2021, 49 total games at Sahlen Field, home of the Triple A Buffalo Bison. In the offseason prior to the 2022 season, the Blue Jays and the crew at Alpha Video completed the project to wow fans with a new look in Toronto.

EVS is driving the replays to the new LED displays.

Our design team worked with [Anthony James Partners Director, Broadcast,] Mike Martin to put together a baseband equivalent to what we had planned on doing in IP, says Jeff Volk, VP, Alpha Video. After two years of starts, stops, and multiple redesigns and other things, the goal was to be ready for Opening Day.

The lockout at the beginning of the regular season brought no new challenges to the project, but Christiansen, Volk, and the rest of the crew working on the control-room integration still needed to overcome the lingering effects of the pandemic. Health and safety restrictions imposed by the Canadian government made it a bit difficult for an American company to go back and forth across the U.S.-Canada border.

To avoid increased supply-chain issues or other delays, Alpha Video partnered with Unity SI - a trusted company located 35 miles north of Rogers Centre in Newmarket, Ontario - which served as its conduit in Canada. The partnership was fruitful, with the Canadian company helping Alpha fulfill multiple tasks: the heavy lift of revamping the control room, installing the Ross Video XPression-based LED used for the video displays, refurbishing the infrastructure of the new mobile unit docking bay, and upgrading broadcast cabling in numerous positions.

The in-venue crew is tapping Ross Video's XPression graphics system.

We leaned heavily on [Unity] to be our boots on the ground, notes Volk. I can't stress enough what a great job [President/CEO] Doug Waldron and the team at Unity did as our partner.

For Christiansen, it was extremely important to work with a systems integrator that was reliable and committed to the project: We knew that [COVID-19] might be a challenge, but we went with Alpha based on their work in other control rooms. I think it was important that I had a personal connection with them as well.

Behind the Scenes: A Peek Into the New Broadcast-Control Room Heading into this endeavor, Christiansen and his crew of Senior Manager, Technical Production, Christina Gunn and Broadcast Engineer Steph Gagnon were specific on the vendors and products they wanted for this new space. Whether from experience or the need for surefire solutions and services that elevate the game presentation, Volk was more than willing to help bring this equipment to the control room or lower bowl.

Mike and his team had very strong ideas about who they wanted their partners to be, he adds. They wanted Sony as their camera manufacturer. They wanted to continue being EVS users, so they have one of the more advanced EVS replay environments that we've installed on the baseband side.

Ross Video's Acuity production switcher is at the center of in-venue shows.

The 1080p, HDR-capable control room is anchored by Ross Video's Acuity production switcher and XPressions graphics system. Replay is handled by two XT-Via replay servers at 8 channels each and a 6-channel XS-Via playback server, along with IPDirector and XTAccess. Daktronics DakStats provides real-time statistics for all LED displays. Riedel control-room communications equipment includes DSP-2312 SmartPanel and Artist 128 digital intercom network. Evertz EQX16 router is at the core of the rack room. Other notable gear in the space: Adder Technology Adderlink Infinity Dual for KVM; AJA HI5-4K-PLUS for HD/SD-SDI HDR-to-HDMI video and audio conversion; and FS-HDR for HDR material.

The show is run with 11 cameras: five Sony HDC-3500's, five Sony BRC-H800 robos (one for home bullpen, one for away bullpen, one high home, one on the roof, and one in the ress conference room) controlled by Sony's RM-IP500 PTZ camera remote controller, and a Sony PMW300 with DTC Solo7 Broadcast Nano COFDM Tx and Pro-RX receiver. All cameras are outfitted with various Fujinon lenses.

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