Scope of Work: Design, Procurement, and Construction Oversight.
John Paul Jones Arena: LED Display Systems, Scoring, Broadcast Control Room, ACC Network Upgrades.
John Paul Jones Broadcast Studio: Broadcast Control Room, Studio Set Design, Studio Layout, Augmented Reality, Infrastructure Cabling.
Scott Stadium: LED Display Systems, Scoring, Integrated Digital and Static Signage.
Davenport Field: LED Display System.
www.uvamagazine.org, Fall 2017
JPJ GETS UPGRADES FOR ACC NETWORK
This fall, UVA’s athletics department has been renovating and expanding its production facilities in John Paul Jones Arena in order to meet technical specifications for the new ACC Network—a broadcasting partnership between Atlantic Coast Conference members and ESPN.
With the deal, the ACC became the fourth of the five power conferences with its own cable channel, joining the Big Ten, the Southeastern Conference and the Pacific 12.
Renovating JPJ, upgrading equipment and adding fiber connectivity will cost approximately $6 million, and the job is the responsibility of the athletics department, says Todd Goodale, Virginia’s senior associate athletics director for external affairs. The changes will allow the University to produce multiple events in-house.
“I think what everybody will notice are higher-quality productions this winter and spring,” says Goodale.
When JPJ opened more than 10 years ago, the facility included two standard-definition control rooms to support the videoboards at JPJ, Klöckner Stadium and Davenport Field. An additional display was added at the Turf Field that has also been controlled from JPJ.
Events for the ACC Network and the in-venue Hoo Vision videoboards (replays of live game action and other UVA-produced videos during breaks and halftime) are separate productions. As a result of the renovations and upgrades, the athletics department is able to produce three events, whether for the ACC Network or Hoo Vision displays, simultaneously.
The video services office now houses three HD control rooms. In addition, fiber will connect the control rooms to each athletics facility, including Scott Stadium. Starting next year, Hoo Vision at home football games will be produced from JPJ.
In addition to the control-room upgrades, Virginia is turning its Cavalier Team Shop space inside JPJ into a full-time ACC Network broadcast studio. The store will be replaced by merchandise kiosks throughout the arena.
With the increased demand for video production created by the ACC Network, Goodale says he anticipates there will be more opportunities for students to gain practical broadcasting experience, and internships could be created in partnership with academic programs on Grounds.
The traditional, on-the-air version of the new network won’t launch until 2019, but the digital version, ACC Network Extra, is already up and running. UVA previously streamed games on its athletics website, Virginia Sports.com.
“I think the great advantage, especially for fans and alums, is the widespread nature of ESPN, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app,” Goodale says, “and how many more people are probably going to be able to watch our teams play.”
Virginia’s non-revenue sports teams are already getting more exposure. “It’s had an immediate impact,” says men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch.
This season, 13 of Virginia’s 16 regular-season men’s soccer games were on some form of the network, compared with four of 16 on ESPN3 last season. “That’s been really great for fans, parents, everybody,” he says.
UVA Today, www.newsvirginia.edu, December 13, 2016
LIVE FROM JPJ, IT’S THE ACC NETWORK!
With the dawn of the ACC Network demanding greater video production capacity, Athletics has set up a control room that can produce three high-definition games at a time.
he July announcement that the Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN plan to launch the ACC Network triggered a flurry of activity at the University of Virginia.
The ACC Network, a dedicated television channel, will go on the air in 2019, the conference said. But fans would also enjoy immediate benefits. Starting in August, hundreds of exclusive live events could be seen on ACC Network Extra – a digital channel accessed through ESPN3 on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
ESPN will rely on schools to produce many ACC Network events. This means all 15 conference institutions must have broadcast facilities that meet ESPN’s broadcast production requirements. UVA, along with several other ACC schools, is in the process of making significant upgrades to its broadcast video capabilities.
UVA’s video services unit was created in 2004. Two years later, it moved to John Paul Jones Arena and into a new office that housed two standard-definition control rooms. Since the fall of 2006, the “Hoo Vision” videoboard productions for men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and baseball have all been run from JPJ, with fiberoptic cable linking the facilities. Connectivity to the University Hall Turf Field for field hockey was added later.
Virginia athletics administrators knew the day was coming when the control rooms would have to be upgraded to support high-definition video and the production capabilities expanded to increase the department’s ability to cover multiple events. However, UVA wanted to know the requirements of a conference network before making a significant investment in technology.
“The upgrades represent a complete change in our video infrastructure,” said Todd Goodale, UVA’s senior associate athletics director for external affairs. “We’ve been able to take advantage of the latest advancements in production technology by waiting until the ACC Network plans were finalized.”
The cost of the enhancements at Virginia – approximately $6 million – will be covered by future revenue generated from the network through conference distributions.
For assistance in the renovation project, UVA hired a broadcast and A/V consultant experienced in control room design and integration. Over the past three months, the video services office in JPJ has been modified to include three high-definition control rooms and a dedicated audio booth. All of UVA’s athletics facilities will be connected to the control room in order to produce ACC Network events.
The control rooms were ready for use for basketball videoboard (Hoo Vision) productions starting with the Nov. 11 UVA women’s opener against Middle Tennessee State. The first ACC Network Extra basketball game produced by the Virginia video services staff will be on Dec. 16, when the women’s team hosts Illinois-Chicago.
“Obviously, we’re always thinking about recruiting and how it can help us,” head women’s basketball coach Joanne Boyle said. “I think you can recruit nationally sometimes at Virginia, and if parents feel like they can watch their children on TV, it gives a little more reason to say, ‘OK, I can maybe let them go a little bit further outside the area than we’re really thinking.’”
Virginia is now able to produce three events simultaneously, which could include any combination of ACC Network or Hoo Vision productions.
“One of our goals, and this extends across the conference, is that fans can’t tell the difference between an event produced by the schools and one produced by ESPN,” Goodale said.
With the launch of the ACC Network and the increased demand for production, Athletics will hire additional staff members over time to support the unit. There will also be opportunities for UVA students to gain professional broadcast experience. Discussions are also underway to develop partnerships with the College of Art & Sciences to create internships and learning experiences within the University’s academic curriculum.
The conference schools are required to produce a minimum of 600 events for ACC Network Extra during the current academic year. That number increases by 125 each year until 2019-20, when a minimum of 975 digital events are to be produced. That year will also mark the start of the linear network, and conference schools will be required to produce more than 100 broadcast events in total to support the ACC Network.
This fall, while the control rooms were renovated and expanded, the video services unit has produced events for ACC Network Extra with one camera and a play-by-play announcer. Beginning with women’s basketball game on Dec. 16, UVA will produce events for ACCNE with multiple cameras in high definition that feature ESPN’s graphic package. The spring sports broadcast schedule should be announced in early 2017, and Virginia’s teams are expected to be featured prominently.
“I was ecstatic when [the ACC/ESPN plan] was announced, because I think that certainly this is the trend of where everything’s going in college athletics,” head baseball coach Brian O’Connor said.
“I think the ACC Network is going to be great for Virginia baseball. Our fans who aren’t close enough to get to a ballgame can follow our program very closely, and I also think it can make a huge impact on recruiting. I think the more that you’re on television, the more [prospects] get a chance to see you and identify with your team.
“That said, our fan base in our stadium has made the difference in our program. So it’s going to be vital moving forward that that environment continues to exist, with fans coming to the stadium and supporting our team.”
Games will not be the only programming shown on the ACC Network. To position UVA to produce as much programming as possible, the former Cavalier Team Shop at JPJ is being transformed to a full broadcast studio that is likely to be used for more than 250 days a year.
“The studio will be very useful to create additional content, not just in support of the basketball programs, but across all of our sports,” Goodale said. “We will be able to use the studio to improve the presence of video on our social media channels and the programming offered on VirginiaSportsTV.com. When the ACC Network is launched in the fall of 2019, we’ll be in a position to provide studio programming directly to ESPN.”
In an athletics department with 25 teams, UVA has long recognized the value of video production. A video board was installed at Scott Stadium in 1998, and in the years that followed “the administration responded to the needs of our teams and the advantages of investing in video technology to enhance the experience for fans who attend our events,” said Goodale, who served as the department’s director of video services when the unit was created.
“It’s all really expanded how we can use video for the game-day experience,” Goodale said, “and we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve been able to invest in the staff that we have to produce the [“Chasing Uncompromised Excellence”] weekly television show and VirginiaSportsTV.com, and we’ve been able to help the coaches in their analysis of games and practices. The use of video across all of our sports has been really helpful to the success of our teams and the development of our student-athletes.”
As a result of that investment, Goodale said, “more people will be exposed to Virginia Athletics than ever before. Through the ACC Network and our social media channels, we will deliver our programming to fans across multiple devices and platforms. They will be able to watch our sports programs and learn more about our student-athletes in the space that best suits them, and I think that’s really positive.”
www.dailypress.com, June 17, 2017
U.VA., VIRGINIA TECH INVESTING MILLIONS IN ACC NETWORK PREPARATIONS
…U.Va. recently completed $6 million in upgrades that include control rooms and a spacious studio. Years in the planning, the project awaited only last summer’s green light from the conference and its broadcast partner, ESPN.
If the ACC Network launched today, Virginia would have the tools in place.
“But we need more staff and additional experience to do it (the production) well,” said Todd Goodale, the senior associate athletic director who oversees the Cavaliers’ video services.
Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock in 2017 called ACC Network preparations “a major undertaking.”
The ACC cable channel is scheduled to debut in August 2019, but to minimize initial hiccups, ESPN wants the league’s 15 schools to be operational a year in advance. This requires infrastructure and personnel capable of producing network-caliber programming.
“It’s a very daunting timeline,” Walls said.
Virginia, Florida State and Duke are far ahead of pace, with the ACC’s 12 other campuses in various states of readiness. All will spend millions, initially on facilities, then on manpower.
Those on the front line such as Goodale and Walls share information, and they have mined peers in the Southeastern Conference for insight — the SEC Network, also in concert with ESPN, launched in 2014.
The universal ACC theme: The schools’ considerable investments and logistical challenges will pay dividends in the form of exposure and revenue.
Few understand those challenges as well as ESPN’s Rex Arends.
He worked at Fox Sports when it started the Big Ten Network in 2007 and was at ESPN for SEC Network planning and launch. Now he serves as a primary ESPN liaison with ACC schools.
“It’s making my job a little bit easier because I think there is a little bit more of a track record out there for people to see,” Arends said. “That’s the absolute best part of this. There are now shining examples of what to do, what not to do.”
Arends has visited every ACC campus multiple times since July.
“Each of the 15,” he said, “is its own unique experiment.”
Here’s where the Virginia and Virginia Tech experiments stand.
IN DESIGNING JOHN Paul Jones Arena — the basketball complex opened in 2006 — Virginia officials included new video production space. The overarching question:
High- or standard-definition equipment?
High-def television was relatively new and quite pricey, and the video boards at the Cavaliers’ football, baseball and soccer/lacrosse venues were not fully HD.
Aware that upgrades would be needed, perhaps in the short term, Virginia officials opted for standard-def. Within two years, Goodale and his staff began exploring HD options.
An ACC Network was merely a vision, but athletic director Craig Littlepage and his top lieutenant, Jon Oliver, were bullish on the project’s viability.
As soon as the conference and ESPN signed the network contract last July, Virginia moved. It retained Richmond-based Anthony James Partners, which had consulted with the school on video and ribbon boards, to identify the ideal audio-visual contractor.
Atlanta-based CTG was the choice, and by August Goodale and his staff knew what equipment they needed.
Virginia essentially expanded its production space on the court level of JPJ from one-and-a-half to three control rooms, the better to juggle simultaneous events requiring the video board, ACC Network Extra — that’s the enhanced online programming, previously ESPN3, which launched in August — and eventually the linear ACC Network.
Moreover, upstairs at street level, Virginia converted its merchandise store into a high-tech broadcast studio, moving its apparel and memorabilia sales to several concourse kiosks.
“We think this will be great to provide ESPN finished content,” Goodale said, standing in the studio. “We’ll also use it to push out video features, news content for website and social media, and pregame, halftime and postgame basketball shows.”
While Virginia is just starting to use the studio, officials wanted the new production facility functional for the 2016-17 academic year, an ambitious target that made for a frantic late summer and fall of construction, wiring and training.
“We didn’t want to go through an entire academic year and wait until this summer,” Goodale said. “We’d (have been) giving up opportunities to get Virginia programming in the mix.”
Indeed, for 2016-17 ESPN required ACC schools to collectively produce 600 events for ACC Network Extra, an average of 40 per school. But with a virtually limitless capacity for digital programming, ESPN encouraged schools to go beyond the minimum.
For example, Virginia produced about 10 additional home baseball games this season, giving fans of the nationally ranked Cavaliers an unprecedented volume of coverage. Via ACC Network Extra, Virginia also offered its ’Hoos Choice Awards, an annual end-of-year sports celebration, as well as frequent broadcasts of other Olympic programs.
ESPN covers production costs for ACC Network Extra games it selects and mandates a higher quality for those broadcasts. Schools pay for the bonus webcasts, which can be produced with fewer cameras, a reduced graphics package and less-experienced play-by-play talent.
The webcasts should prepare Virginia for ESPN’s future ACC Network Extra demands. The 600-event minimum of this academic year grows by 125 annually until capping at 975 in 2019-20, when the average will be 65 per school.
“Video board and television production are completely different,” Goodale said. “ESPN monitors and evaluates each broadcast. That’s the only way for us to get better.”
The on-campus control rooms are, and will be, the hub for all ACC Network Extra and ACC Network telecasts originating from the 15 schools. That means connecting the production site to each competition venue via fiber cable and then transmitting the signal to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., or Charlotte, N.C.
Such streamlining will save ESPN the $10,000-plus rentals of the satellite trucks that have long been ubiquitous at the network’s ACC broadcasts.
Most of Virginia’s venues are central to the basketball arena, but a two-mile connection to the football stadium is ongoing, with minimal new digging, using pipes and tunnels already in place.
By this upcoming season, the Cavaliers will be producing their football video board shows from JPJ rather than from a rented production truck at Scott Stadium.
U.Va., Virginia Tech and their ACC colleagues depend on freelancers and interns to man cameras, audio boards, graphics machines and switchers, the console from which the technical director switches from one camera shot to another. But the ACC Network will require higher production quality and additional full-time personnel.
Virginia employs seven full-timers in video services, about half of some SEC schools.
“Staffing is the No. 1 concern of everyone we’ve talked to,” Goodale said.
Goodale anticipates phasing in new employees as the linear debut approaches and eagerly awaits the added exposure, particularly for the ACC’s Olympic sports.
“It’s been a great project to be a part of,” he said. “It’s been a true partnership (with ESPN). … We need to fully serve the needs of our fans, our coaches, our student-athletes and now, ESPN and the ACC Network.”
And about that standard-definition equipment purchased in 2006?
“We got everything possible out of it,” Goodale said with a smile.
Like putting 250,000 miles on a car?
“Maybe more,” said Mike Szlamowicz, a senior producer and operations manager. “We couldn’t find (replacement) parts because they didn’t make them anymore.”