Advanced Helps SportsCentre Modernize

Installation at the Canadian SportsCentre studio creates three presentation areas with nearly seamless video walls.

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Knowing your customer can often be the most important piece of picking up a new job — or maybe several new jobs.

That’s a lesson the team at Advanced in Missisauga, Ontario learned when they were asked by the management team at Bell TV/CTV in Toronto to modernize its TSN SportsCentre studio.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, provided the ideal motivation for the new look, including four APG 60-inch broadcast-specific plasma monitors, a nearly bezel-free centralized video wall and more. Bell Media approved the project budget last fall and Advanced started testing several displays on camera.

“They wanted a unique deployment to reinforce their brand as Canada’s leading sports highlights and recap show, and to extend their ratings lead in their highly competitive market segment,” says Omar Prashad, GM of systems integration at Advanced. Prashad and his team spent several months with Bell Media/CTV executives talking about the best solution before deciding on the APG setup.

Inside the Installation

The original conversation about the SportsCentre studio started more than a year before the actual installation as a more general discussion about updating technology in the studio, says Prashad, a testament to the relationship that includes Advanced working on around a dozen Bell Media/CTV studios. It also helps that Advanced offers solutions that are “very much hardware-agnostic.”

Bell Media execs moved “SportsCentre” to a temporary set while Advanced did its installation over a two-week period covering the holiday season, says Prashad. While they waited to get going, Advanced’s project manager visited the studio daily to check on the progress of the other trades involved.

“We don’t tell or make anybody do anything, but knowing if there’s a delay helps us to plan,” says Prashad.

Advanced workers spent about one-third to half of their installation time checking out the structural integrity of the poles where they were planning to mount the monitors, which are not attached to the base of the building. The centralized 4×2 video wall includes two monitors on the corners that are angled toward the center. Each of the monitors weighs about 250 to 300 pounds.

“The background work that isn’t seen by most people is the reason the final deployment looks as good as it does,” Prashad says. “Every single seam gap is tight to the factory specifications even though monitors are mounted at odd angles.”

In addition to the main display at the center of the studio, behind where the hosts sit during the show, the two other presentation areas each blend three of the 60″ displays directly into the set architecture, where they are precision mounted on an angle to create an eye-catching design.

CTV is standardized on Evertz Video signal processing for the display of all content on the show, so Advanced worked with existing video processing equipment to complete the installation.

“Our engineering and programming teams spent a significant amount of time working with their video production crew testing the performance of the existing processor,” Prashad says. “It was crucial for us in the design of the technology and the specification of hardware that we could be confident in the combined abilities of the processor and display hardware when married together.”

After the set was completed, Advanced’s video wall technicians spent several days with Bell Media employees fine-tuning each display for color, brightness and uniformity.

“We want to ensure that the set looks as good in year four as it did on launch day,” Prashad says.

Opportunity for More

Prashad expects Advanced to be busy on the SportsCentre set going forward, since the most recent upgrade was the first of what could be many of its kind. Bell TV/CTV execs started with the most visible area where the on-air talent sits, but anticipates continuing the overhaul.

“It’s exciting to partner with someone with a long-term vision,” says Prashad. “We can come to the table with them and talk about concepts and ideas.”