Sinclair Broadcast Group – Bally Sports

Sinclair Broadcast Group: Bally Sports

Preparing for the Future with New, IP-based Media Operations Center to Support RSNs

After successfully rebranding 21 Fox RSNs acquired from Disney to Bally Sports—which alone was among the largest undertakings in the history of the RSN business—Sinclair Broadcast Group faced the added challenge of building a backend technical infrastructure to support the needs of its 19 Bally Sports RSNs as well as YES Network and Marquee Sports Network. Partnering with Encompass Digital Media to house the new media operations center in its Atlanta HQ, Sinclair turned to Diversified to help design and build the 25,000-sq.-ft., native end-to-end SMPTE ST 2110 facility.

While the logistical challenges of transitioning so many RSNs to a new IP-based media operations center in just a few short months would be complex under normal circumstances, conducting this multi-network, multi-venue transformation across the country during a pandemic presented larger and unprecedented hurdles. Still, Diversified was able to leverage talent from its Intelligent Technology, Media Production, Media Workflow and Emerging Technology teams to provide a well-rounded solution from all angles.

The primary operating area is the multichannel monitoring room, where operators monitor feeds coming into master control. Around the outside of this room are 52 live-event pods (40 fully equipped, with room to expand to 12 more in the future). Inside the central equipment room are 84 racks of gear, a much smaller footprint than what would have been needed for HD-SDI, including 104 playout servers (10 UHD) controlled by ADC automation and orchestration and leveraging a red and blue spine-and-leaf IP network. A software-defined media platform manages 71 channels of IP decoding and 24 channels of encoding with video control. Among other key gear are 52 network processors for multiformat conversion and multiviewers; two fully redundant C-band transmission chains with encoders, muxes and control; primary PTP sync with backup; and compliance recording.

Diversified pushed hard to have an organized, efficient project approach that allowed the team to identify blockers that could prevent them from meeting critical deadlines. The company’s approach and collaboration with its vendor partners and clients made this project a resounding success for all.

Sinclair Broadcast Group – Tennis Channel

Sinclair Broadcast Group: Tennis Channel

Serving Up Full SMPTE 2110 IP-Based Infrastructure as Tennis Channel Moves to New Facility

Building a new facility—especially in the middle of a pandemic—certainly has its own set of challenges but add in a complete infrastructure upgrade, and it could be a “break point” for any transition. When the Tennis Channel wanted to move to Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Santa Monica operations center, the network partnered with Diversified to help deliver a cutting-edge network solution leveraging a full SMPTE 2110 IP infrastructure.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility,” says Bob Whyley, SVP, production/executive producer, Tennis Channel. “Where we were [vs.] where we are now is black and white. Our first live show was a month after [the building opened], and we never would’ve been able to do that in our old building.”

To bring the new system to life by December 2021, it was critical for the Diversified team to work in perfect stride with over a dozen vendors and partners, as well as various technical groups from Tennis Channel and Sinclair.

Working against an aggressive timeline, Diversified’s team of engineers, subject matter experts and installation technicians, stood up a total of 5 studios, 3 production control rooms, 11 edit suites, 4 voice over rooms, 2 audio control rooms, a master control room, an executive control room and a central equipment room containing 24 fully populated equipment racks.

“We’re honored that Sinclair and Tennis Channel put their trust in our team and we were prepared to move mountains to hit our goal on-air date,” says Eugene Tuzkov, project manager at Diversified. “This was a significant achievement against a timeline which some thought to be potentially unrealistic considering the complexity of this new technology.”

“Rolling out new technology is naturally always accompanied with challenges, and then add supply chain issues, new and constantly evolving Covid protocols, staffing and various other issues due to the pandemic, and we had our work cut out for us,” adds Chris Smart, senior design engineer at Diversified. “Success here would not have been possible without a strong team and great support from our vendors.”

At the heart of the new design is an Imagine Communications IP-based infrastructure featuring Selenio Network Processors, Versio playout platform and Magellan SDN Orchestrator. Supporting the Imagine system on the production side is EVS for replay capabilities, Calrec for audio, graphics by VizRT and Grass Valley production control switchers. Mission critical monitor walls across the facility are powered by Embrionix, while AVID and Telestream complete the cast of major 2110 players.

While the new facility is a milestone of technological advancement for the Tennis Channel, they remain focused on continuing to improve, adding enhanced workflows for an increasing number of remote productions.

Rogers Sports & Media – Sportsnet

Rogers Sports & Media – Sportsnet

Sportsnet Studios Reimagines the Viewer Experience to Bring Fans Even Closer

When Rogers Sports & Media (RSM) wanted to build new studios that would enable Sportsnet to completely reimagine their approach to traditional hockey broadcast, production and distribution, they turned to Diversified’s team of experts for the consultation and design of two new production control rooms that would drive two new cutting-edge IP-based sports broadcast studios.

Together, Diversified’s Media and Entertainment (M&E) and Toronto-based engineering teams partnered with the RSM Technical Design team to build out the infrastructure, video processing and routing, and display technology based on the SMPTE 2110 IP-routing standard, using an Evertz IP routing to create a futureproof broadcast hub.

“There was no debate [on whether to go IP],” says Pierre Fortin, Vice President, Technology Media and Innovation, Rogers Sports & Media. “The only debate was how to go about it. Do you go multi-vendor and do all that integration yourself, or do you go for a more end-to-end solution stack?”

Ultimately, the new design has brought all of Sportsnet’s hockey operations under the same roof as the rest of its productions, making it one of the largest and most advanced end-to-end IP-based production facilities in North America. Even amid a challenging timeline, a pandemic and global supply chain issues, Diversified leveraged their expertise and resources to keep the project moving, ultimately delivering the completed spaces on time and on budget.

“The timetable for this was very aggressive, and we didn’t have the luxury of making mistakes along the way,” adds Fortin. “We wanted to lean on people who had done this before, so we worked with Diversified as our integrator, and they worked out great.”

In addition to the IP infrastructure, Diversified helped outfit the impressive new broadcast studios with Samsung 1.5mm pixel pitch LED displays in various sizes and configurations along with Samsung large format LCD in 75″ and 98″ sizes including:

  • Two-sided column wrapped LED wall
  • Two curved anchor desk LED displays
  • 50′ wide concave curved LED wall, floor to ceiling
  • Seven 75″ and two 98″ displays, portrait mounted
  • Thirteen additional LED walls between both studios
  • HDR capable systems with two Barco videowall processing engines

“The Sportsnet Studios are for Canada’s sports fans, first and foremost. The investment made in these studios is representative of the way Sportsnet is adapting everything we do to better serve today’s sports fan in the ways they want,” said Bart Yabsley, President, Sportsnet.

The state-of-the-art technology, data capabilities and increased in-broadcast versatility allows the NHL on Sportsnet team to create unprecedented interactive, immersive and innovative content—including virtual and augmented reality offerings—that bring fans into the game day excitement from anywhere.

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Passion City Church | Cumberland

Passion City Church | Cumberland

Sharing the Message with the Highest of Worship Production Technology Standards

Before they were a church, the efforts of Passion City were aimed at engaging college students to live for the renown of Jesus. Diversified was an original partner in the construction of the first permanent gathering site at 515 Garson Drive. Since that time, the ministry has developed the highest of worship production technology standards and embraced a variety of large events in their space (even bull riding!). Diversified has helped every step of the way with several upgrades to accommodate growth.

When the time came to construct a new Cumberland location, Passion City engaged the Diversified team again. This was the first time that the organization had worked with a single partner for all the technology systems in a facility. The Passion team is unique because they have several experts on their production team, and they knew they needed the right partner to achieve their production goals. Having launched in Cumberland in 2017 at North Atlanta High School, this permanent home is not only vital for the growing church community in the city but also serves as the production hub for the Passion organization, meaning that all broadcast content sent out to the world is cut and mixed from this location. Diversified was trusted to support their exact vision at a very granular level, developing solutions that represent several first’s in the church production world.

“Working with Tim Corder and the team at Diversified was really great. We love that Diversified is really structured well to make sure that our first Sunday, and the second Sunday, and the third Sunday after that were as seamless for us as possible. I’m excited to see us come out of COVID stronger than ever as a result of this new facility.”

– Taylor Charboneau, Director of Production

The new auditorium features 180-degree seating spread between the main floor and the balcony with the furthest only 60 feet away from downstage center. Although there is space for 1,400 people, this space has a unique vibe because of how intimate it is for such a large space. At the heart of the audio system is a L-Acoustics K2 loudspeaker system, Digico audio consoles and Shure wireless. The lighting system is based around a Grand MA 3 console, Pathway Pathport streaming ACN lighting control, and a mix of Martin and GLP fixtures as a standard rep plot that is supplemented with rental fixtures according to the demands of particular events. The video system is comprised of a Ross Video backbone in routing and switching with two control rooms – one for the in-room IMAG cut and one for the broadcast feed that is streamed around the world, Panasonic Varicam cinema cameras with a mix of Canon and Fujinon lensing and Vinten tripods, Ross XPression and Renewed Vision ProPresenter GFX systems, Clearcom matrix intercom, Teradek wireless video transmission, and Defy robotic dolly and wire cam systems.

A collection of Unilumin UPAD III 2.6mm LED panels are used to create visual canvases on stage that are served by a Disguise media server as an important part of the visual brand of Passion gatherings. The room is unique for its lack of permanent side screens, instead relying on these stage LED canvases to share video in more unique and engaging ways.

In addition to the main auditorium environment, Diversified also installed circulation audio and video systems comprised of JBL speakers, Crown amplification, and Samsung commercial displays. Child and student large group environments are centered around Waves LV1 audio consoles, Yamaha loudspeaker systems, MA and Chauvet lighting, and flat panel displays with Renewed Vision ProPresenter GFX.

For over 20 years, Passion has always been known for God-sized dreams, utilizing worship production technology in fresh and creative ways as a tool to make Jesus known. After successfully completing the construction and system integration process at the Cumberland location, the teams at Passion City and Diversified have continued to stay connected, ensuring the overall mission of the church stays firmly supported.

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Mount Paran Church

Mount Paran Church

Next-Gen Sanctuary Audio Technology Inspires Paradigm-Changing Worship Experience

For more than half a century, Atlanta’s Mount Paran Church has been celebrated by the evangelical world as a beacon of effective ministry and engaged, growing membership, evidenced by its 13,000-plus-member congregation. In fact, it was this very community of faith that pioneered the “one church in two locations” concept in the late ’80s that eventually laid the groundwork for multiple satellite campuses, now a hallmark of many of today’s houses of worship. So, it should come as no surprise that Mount Paran is forward-thinking when it comes to the technology it uses to communicate its message, a point that was clearly underscored by its distinction as the world’s first house of worship to install a sanctuary audio technology system built upon L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.

“Good sound is one of the most essential elements in today’s churches, and achieving consistent, engaging audio throughout an entire worship space is mission-critical so that the congregation has a shared community experience,” says Tim Corder, Strategic Accounts Director – House of Worship for Diversified. “The previous loudspeaker system in Mount Paran’s main auditorium had been in place for many years, and as it aged, it began to have component failures that created erratic coverage—sonically ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots throughout the room—which was hampering the worship experience for many of their congregants.”

Although Diversified initially considered specifying a left/right array-based design for Mount Paran’s loudspeaker retrofit, the presence of large LED screens on either side of the stage meant that the array lengths necessary for providing optimal coverage would create sightline issues, particularly for those seated in the balcony. Furthermore, the church wanted to minimize the number of modifications made to the architecture, both for aesthetic and budgetary reasons.

“With so little space to work with above the screens, we chose to explore an L-ISA design, which offered us the ability to spread the system’s power out horizontally versus vertically,” says Nick Geiger, Account Executive and Audio Lead for Diversified. “This enabled us to achieve the SPL and coverage that we needed while keeping the speaker hangs compact enough to not cause visibility issues with the lighting and video facilities.”

“L-ISA is an incredible tool for Houses of Worship,” enthuses Geiger. “As an audience member, you don’t just want to feel as though you’re sitting in the room spectating something that’s happening onstage. Mount Paran has a large choir, orchestra and praise team, and L-ISA enables you to feel enveloped by their sound—like you’re a part of it—in every seat in the house.”

Corder agrees, adding that the audio imaging capabilities of the new system produce a very natural-sounding binaural listening experience. “When the left side of the choir has a solo, you feel it come from the left side,” he says. “I’ve heard them stagger vocal intros between the left, right and center sections, and you really feel that localization—and it’s stunning! You totally forget that you’re listening to a PA because it just feels like you’re listening to the choir. I’ve never had that experience before.”

“We at Diversified pride ourselves on being at the forefront of emerging technologies that are making an impact in our industry,” Corder adds. “You really must experience L-ISA as one of the several thousand people gathered in the room during a service to understand the full impact that this technology and loudspeaker system makes on the engagement of the congregation. Words do not do it justice. It is inspiring on a level that is quite literally paradigm-changing.”

Video Case Study

Christ Fellowship

Christ Fellowship

LED Technology Upgrade for Church Campus Creates Intimate Worship Experiences

Diversified was engaged by Christ Fellowship in the first portion of what will be a multi-phase technology upgrade to their main broadcast campus in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. The initial scope included an LED video canvas for the church stage, as well as stage lighting upgrades, associated video processing/scaling/media servers, and new monitor and broadcast audio consoles for the main auditorium.

Diversified assisted the church in evaluating several different LED wall manufacturer options, ultimately settling on 314 ROE Diamond series 2.6mm LED panels to create a giant canvas on stage over 8,400 pixels wide by 1,500 pixels tall – 72 horizontal feet of screen surface! Brompton Tessera SX40 processors provide scaling and image processing for the screen, along with a Green Hippo media server and Barco E2 canvas management provided by Diversified. The church carried out the installation of the screen themselves with remote support from the technology solutions provider and the result is truly stunning.

Stage lighting improvements are anchored by Robe BMFL Spot fixtures that Diversified helped the church source directly from another client who wanted to move in a different creative direction for their stage, as well as GLP Impression X4 20 Bar’s, Martin MAC Quantum washes, Chauvet Rogue R2 washes, Elation CuePix Blinder WW2’s, and Chauvet Ovation F-915VW fresnel fixtures. Combined with an existing inventory of Chauvet EPIX LED strips and various Colorado LED par cans, the result is a cohesive lighting design with multiple layers that allows the church to create intimate, detailed looks as well as big and epic room-filling experiences based on whatever moment is being created on stage.

Christ Fellowship has standardized on Avid S6L consoles for their larger worship spaces such as the Gardens Campus. Diversified supplied new S6L systems for both monitors and broadcast, which proved extremely valuable as the global pandemic caused the church to quickly pivot from in-person to strictly online gatherings for several months in 2020.

Whether responsible for turnkey end-to-end project integration or working alongside a talented staff team and simply filling in their gaps to ensure they achieve their goals, Diversified is at its best helping churches like Christ Fellowship fulfill their unique mission in their community.

First Pentecostal Church

First Pentecostal Church

Low-Profile, High-Performance Online Broadcast Solution Helps Church Pivot Amid Pandemic Shutdowns

With roots spanning back to the early 1930’s, First Pentecostal Church of North Little Rock, AR has a rich heritage of ministry in Central Arkansas marked by high energy, highly participatory worship services. Prior to the global pandemic of 2020, the church placed their sole focus on in-person gatherings and did not have an online streaming presence. As forced shutdowns in the U.S. began to impact the church in the early days of the pandemic, they quickly pivoted in establishing an online broadcast solution so that their faith community could continue to engage together in worship and teaching. A hodge-podge of prosumer cameras on tripods were placed in front of the stage and a simple streaming system was constructed on nearby folding tables. The result proved important to the congregation, so much so that as plans begin to emerge to regather publicly, it was clear that eliminating the online stream that had been created was not an acceptable step going forward.

Church staff reached out to Diversified in early spring 2020 for help creating a permanent video system that would allow the church to continue their popular broadcasts at the highest quality level they could achieve while trying to make the camera technology as low profile and invisible to attendees as possible. The pastoral leadership was hesitant that they did not want the sacred Sanctuary to feel like a TV studio with cameras causing distraction and drawing focus away from their priorities.

Diversified created a high-performance solution comprised of Panasonic UHD robotic cameras and Marshall micro-POV cameras that work together to capture the energy and excitement of the church’s worship gatherings while blending into the environment and avoiding undue attention. A new control room was constructed under the stage to house a volunteer team of camera and GFX operators, as well as a director and switcher operator. A broadcast audio mix is created elsewhere on campus and sent to the new control room where it is combined with the video system and broadcast via encoders to YouTube, Facebook and the church’s website.

The result is viewed by thousands weekly and has served to increase the church’s reach tangibly beyond the greater Little Rock area. The church continues to pour into volunteers and the volunteer production team has increased three-fold already in just a few short months. The quality of the broadcast has also improved as the team refines their skills and learns to get more from their tools.

Passion City Church | 515

Passion City Church | 515

AV Installation for a Lasting, Dynamic Worship Experience

Born of the Passion Movement, a decades-old movement among young adults aged 18-25, what began with a stirring in the hearts of Louie and Shelley Giglio has grown to become a culture-shaping church where Jesus is the lead story told through AV installation for a lasting, dynamic worship experience. In addition to their locations in the Atlanta and Washington, DC metro areas, Passion City is part of an organization also behind the present-day Passion Conferences and Six Steps recording label. Songs and messages created out of this movement have impacted people all over the world.

Diversified was engaged to help Passion establish their first permanent gathering site at 515 Garson Drive in Atlanta, GA. During the design and build of the facility, the church team was busy holding conferences and worship events many time zones away. Diversified coordinated design reviews and other communications with their schedule so that when the facility was being constructed, they were confident that the systems fit into a well-defined and documented design.

Located in the heart of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, the technology systems were expected to match the “world-class” experiences that Passion is known for and the results became a trend setter for the larger Christian church world. Diversified’s scope in this original facility included the video system, a unique 3:1 aspect ratio projection screen utilizing edge blended Barco projectors on a 39’ x 13’ screen centered above the stage that quickly became an example many other churches around the world patterned their spaces after, a production matrix intercom, as well as overall project management of all technical trades involved in building the facility.

Fast forward to today and Diversified is still trusted by Passion City Church with AV installation for an elevated worship experience all these years later to keep the presentation fresh and relevant, working alongside the church’s talented creatives to enable their dreams with the best current tools and workflows. Diversified has recently assisted Passion with a rehang of the existing loudspeaker system, incorporating outfill arrays to improve the audio experience in conjunction with the recent conversion of seating from flat floor to a stadium seating design. Diversified has also been intimately connected to their transition from projection to LED video walls, assisting with both the panels themselves as well as the addition of video servers and canvas management to their workflow. Additionally, Diversified assisted the church’s team in the transition of the original broadcast cameras to new Panasonic cinema cameras, elevating the content broadcast to the world from this facility to an entirely new level of quality and inspiration.

Long-term relationships are at the foundation of everything Diversified is about. It is an honor to continue to be welcomed into the decision-making circle of world changers like Passion City Church as they use their gifts to impact their city and the world.

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Fairhaven Church | Centreville

Fairhaven Church | Centerville

Production System Upgrade Elevates Church’s Message and Reach, Further Empowering Its Mission

Fairhaven Church is a multi-campus church with five locations throughout the Dayton metropolitan area. Diversified was engaged to provide a complete production system upgrade to their broadcast campus in Centerville, OH as part of a larger renovation of the auditorium—a campus which serves as the hub for weekly online broadcasts as well as creating live message content that is broadcast via public internet to the other locations for simulcast during those worship services.

Fairhaven prioritizes leveraging technology as a tool to engage their community and the stakes for this investment could not have been higher. What’s more, the church sought long-term tools that would serve the ministry for at least a decade, building in flexibility to allow the system to grow and expand in the future as creative goals morph and expand.

This multi-discipline church production system project was comprised of a new loudspeaker system and audio infrastructure, broadcast video system including a new control room, machine room, GFX computers and video servers, new lensing for existing cameras, production matrix intercom, stage lighting system including new fixtures, console, and DMX control infrastructure, production network backbone, LED video wall scaling and canvas management system for existing LED video panels, acoustic treatment, color changing house lighting, and production rigging and power.

Regardless of the significant scope for either a new construction or renovation, this project was made infinitely more complex by the fact that the renovation would be completed in real time while the church continued to meet in the space every weekend throughout. Diversified’s project management team provided overall project coordination for not only the technical scope but also the other construction elements such as new seating, painting of both the walls and ceiling, a new front of house booth construction, and other various details that all came together to support the reimagined space. This ensured that the project was completed on time with the least disruption to the church’s operations throughout the process.

This completed system went online just several months before the global pandemic, providing the church with the exact tools they needed to not miss a step as public gatherings were halted and they moved to a 100% online ministry model. Ultimately, Diversified worked closely with the church to maximize their investment with spirited conversations along the way, weighing the pros and cons of necessary value engineering steps for the production system. The result has elevated Fairhaven Church’s message and reach, empowering their mission to help people in the community.

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Cherry Hills Community Church

Cherry Hills Community Church

Church Finds a New Sense of Mission that Critical Technology Upgrade Helps Achieve

Like many faith communities, Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado found a new sense of mission amid the pandemic. With so much adaptation and innovation today, AV has become a critical tool. The church had been planning a technology upgrade before the coronavirus hit, due to the sheer age-related state of their cameras. The priority of the upgrade would be a more cinematic style to the music-driven services. This commitment to inspiring visuals only increased in importance as world events took hold.

Diversified partnered with the church to assemble a range of cameras, from ENG style and robotics to PTZ, that would represent a long-term investment and share a common visual style – one that invokes rich colors, depth of field, and focal nuances typically associated with a more cinematic style. An upgrade that initially focused on IMAG became equally important to both in-person and remote audiences.

The Cherry Hills sanctuary is quite large, with some camera positions as far as 100 feet away from the stage, making 100% cinema or 100% broadcast cameras a difficult choice due to natural lensing strengths and limitations of both categories. In addition, as a six-day-a-week operation, the church needed tools that would stand up to the schedule and be part of the media toolkit for many years to come.

The answer for Cherry Hills was a holistic all-Sony investment comprised of a mix of HDC-3500 HDR studio cameras, Sony F55 HDR live cinema cameras, and Sony BRC-X1000 PTZ cameras, all with Fujinon lensing. “This is about mission and vision, for us—the biggest return we could get was from the cameras,” says Chris Thomas, Worship and Creative Arts Pastor for the church. “We started there because the congregation was going to see it, see results. If we had started with the router, or the switcher, I would not have received the response I did. It was immediately clear to people that something had dramatically changed.”

“We knew we wanted to improve the style and move towards the cinematic side of things,” he continues, drawing inspiration from the example of the legendary Hillsong Church, from movies and television, and from concert films like U2. “We couldn’t buy nine cameras that needed to be manned; we needed a range of cameras that could do different jobs and accommodate different levels of operator skill, or no operator. We wanted a single manufacturer that could provide cameras at all those levels and with an aesthetic that would remain consistent, and a technology partner that could service us both in this initial phase, as well as future phases to come as the rest of the video plant receives future upgrades. Sony and Diversified were the right choice for us.”

The response to the new cameras and content style has opened Cherry Hills’ future for both in-person and virtual outreach. The technology upgrade – pandemic or not – is elevating the worship experience for its community, helping them reach larger constituencies than ever before.

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