Aston Villa content production is a kind of (Black)magic

Aston Villa Football Club recently introduced a state of the art digital OB pod incorporating Blackmagic Design’s ATEM 2 M/E Production Switcher and Smart Videohub, enabling the Premier League team to take match day content production and output in house.

Replacing the club’s analogue tape workflow, which was rented on a match-by-match basis, has allowed Aston Villa’s multimedia team, led by Nick Finney, to make cost savings while also giving them complete control of the production process.

Content is a blend of prepared material including player interviews, sponsor messages and goal compilations, along with pre-match build-up from pitch side and live match footage, which goes out on two large LED screens at either end of Villa Park. In addition, the multimedia team has an IPTV channel which is broadcast across 300 television screens around the concourse and hospitality areas.

Match day footage is an edited feed supplied by broadcasters including Sky and the BBC via SDI, while the multimedia team also has its own mobile SDI camera used for capturing match build-up pitch side. Both HD SDI feeds are captured using an ATEM Camera Converter and fed back to Aston Villa’s OB pod into two ATEM Studio Converters.

The club has also installed a Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub along with a new fibre optic backbone to handle video distribution around the stadium. A mixture of live footage, keyed graphics and VT are then fed into the ATEM 2 M/E Production Switcher, which the multimedia team then package up and output over two channels from the ATEM 2 M/E; one with an ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel, while the other is using the ATEM’s software panel control on a Macbook.

Nick Finney, multimedia operations manager for Aston Villa Football Club, comments: “The solution we’ve built is Blackmagic Design end to end. Not only has it meant we can centralise all of our live content into the one place, but it has also given us much more flexibility when it comes to getting material up later; something that wouldn’t have been possible when using tape. Using the ATEM gear on a match day, we have found it to be both intuitive and reliable. Keying is good, very easy, and the fact we have two completely independent channels that we can control separately has meant we have been able to cut down our costs while making our workflow much smoother.”

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