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Inside Harvard University’s Need to Stream

Tennis isn’t the most popular spectator sport at Harvard University. So why did the Harvard Athletic Department come up with a cost-effective AV distribution strategy that’s 4K-ready?

Tom LeBlanc

“Our goal with this project was to provide a cost-effective, easy solution for streaming tennis at Harvard, specifically the six in-door courts, and I was looking for something that would be easily controlled remotely while also staying within our budget,” Halevi says.

“The Blackmagic switchers provided the best solution on the market. They’re not that expensive. They provide a whole host of inputs and outputs that we can use for our cameras and streaming and DVR and allowed us to put them all in a very small space.”

He’s not kidding about the small space. There isn’t a space carved out for the equipment, but the rack filled with 1RU Blackmagic components slips seamlessly behind the heavy curtains that surround the six courts.

Harvard

The 1RU components offer a small footprint — and have to — so Harvard’s athletic department director of multimedia and production Imry Halevi is able to hide them behind the curtains surrounding the indoor tennis court, he reveals.

Each of the six tennis courts has a camera at one end for a wide angle shot, which is fed into an ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K. Audio input for the commentators’ feed is fed into the switchers, as well as a second video input for a shot of the scoreboard, which is then used in the wide angle shot for the DVE effect.

Harvard’s tennis streaming solution is “very powerful and has a lot of scalability,” Halevi adds. Right now it doesn’t leverage the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K switchers’ Ultra HD capabilities, but he says the plan is to stream in 4K at some point. “I’m excited to expand on what we are doing now.”

Imry plans to implement the same setup for Harvard’s six outdoor tennis courts to continue streaming matches after they move outdoors in the warmer months. Although he has an open mind and will evaluate on a project by project basis, he’s happy with the Blackmagic AV distribution. “For a small rack that’s in a small location within the tennis courts it really provided the easiest and best and most cost effective solution.”

Imry Halevi, Harvard’s athletic department director of multimedia and production, explains his cost-effective video streaming solution: