Behind the Scenes of the NFTS Sports Production Diploma: Part II – Workflow Decisions

Blackmagic NFS-114In the second part of our series focusing on the NFTS’ Sports Production diploma, Head Engineer Steve Holdsworth elaborates upon the course’s dedicated technical workflow, which supports the students through their practical assignments.

“My brief for this course was to build a six camera setup that could be used for single camera acquisition as well as multi-camera OB, as these form the main practical requirements of the diploma,” he says. “The hardware needed to be self-contained for smaller groups of students to use, but easily configurable for use in the field as part of a more comprehensive OB workflow. It was also critical that we matched the real-life sports broadcasting workflow as closely as possible.

“Just as we started to look at products for the course, the URSA Mini B4 mount option was announced, and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to allow us to use the same B4 lenses that are prevalent in the industry. The cameras are paired with Canon KJ20x8.2B IRSD which suit our needs well, and also allows us to have remote zoom and focus controls, which are essential for live event and sports production.

“Each camera package has its own [URSA] EVF and shoulder mount kit, so students have the flexibility to shoot on the run, or on sticks. The case also contains a dedicated lens, Sennheiser K6 microphone, softie and pistol kit, Sennheiser G3 Radio mic kit as well as batteries and chargers. We’ve been pleased with how quickly the students have gotten to grips with the acquisition hardware, as many aren’t from a technical production background.

“Our PPU is built around an ATEM Production Studio 4K and an ATEM 1 M/E broadcast panel, with a multiview output feeding a 4K screen. Each camera is rigged with an ATEM Camera Converter, which helps provide full talkback and tally functions over our 200m drums of optical fiber. Each ISO camera feed is recorded to SSD using a series of HyperDeck broadcast decks, and signal management for the system is handled through a Smart Videohub router, and monitored using a series of SmartView 4K preview screens as well as a Blackmagic Audio Monitor and MultiView 16.

“Giving students an authentic OB production environment is an integral part of the curriculum, and every element of the Blackmagic Design workflow helps us match the standard expected by broadcasters around the world. There is nothing else really on the market that so closely filled our brief on production quality, usability, reliability, and cost.”

In the next installment, we’ll explore a recent live OB involving coverage of a rugby match at Ealing Trailfinders and delivered by students on the Sports Production Diploma.

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