Middle Tennessee State University’s (MTSU) live sports coverage is engaging fans and winning awards. Within the past three years, the school’s Media Arts Productions Group has won two Sports Video Group (SVG) awards for Outstanding Live Game Production for its broadcasts of football and basketball games.
The award-winning broadcasts are the work of the Media Arts Productions Group, a University-based production company that broadcasts from a state-of-the-art, mobile production truck. What started out as a learning lab to provide students with hands-on experience with the technology they will use in their careers, has expanded into a professional production company, completely staffed by students, and managed by faculty.
MTSU’s Athletic Department first hired the Media Arts Productions Group when MTSU joined Conference USA and the demand for sports content exploded. Seventeen MTSU athletic programs participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division 1 as part of Conference USA. Their live broadcasts are carried by the Conference’s television partners, including ESPN3 and BeIN Sports as well as national and local news channels, providing the school with significant media exposure.
Engaging the Fans with a More Compelling Story
The production team works out of the University’s $1.75 million Mobile Production Lab. The 40-foot broadcast television truck includes an HD video production control room and uses 9 cameras and state-of-the-art graphics production system. This year MTSU added Avid FastServe | Live Edit to the production truck, enabling the Media Arts Production Group to quickly deliver more compelling content. With FastServe, the student production team can capture HD and UHD content, easily manage scheduled ingest, live acquisition, and play-to-air demands, while automating ingest-to-playback turnaround.
Senior Isaac Shaw is the lead package editor handling the tape production. “I’m in charge of the melt reels, rollouts, and highlight packages,” explains Shaw. The Avid system replaced an older replay system, which Shaw notes did not allow them to create packages. “With FastServe | Live Edit, we’ve been able to hone in and figure out how you tell a story, how to put edits together, how to create clips, and have the flexibility to do it all.”
With FastServe | Live Edit, we’ve been able to hone in and figure out how you tell a story, how to put edits together, how to create clips, and have the flexibility to do it all.
NISAAC SHAW, LEAD PACKAGE EDITOR AND SENIOR
For a typical broadcast, the production team creates a long package at half-time, a longer package at the end of the game, and smaller player packages and highlights during the game. They set the Avid FastServe system up for five inputs and three outputs. Two outputs are tied to one controller and another output is tied to a second controller. With the two-output machine, one person is marking the ins and outs for the replays. The second controller is doing the PSAs for the University, which they use for playback and building highlight reels.
“With Avid we can centralize everything,” states Shaw. “I don’t have to worry about which machine this package is on, which machine am I going to roll-out on, or which machine I do a melt on. My replay operator and I have access to all the files. So, if we need to change something on the fly, we can. This gives the producer infinitely more flexibility to tell the story. The product we’re putting out with Avid is much more of a professional grade because we’re adding context to the game.”
Delivering Network-Quality Live Sports Broadcasts
“Avid FastServe upped the game on our replay system,” states Marc Parrish, Chief Engineer for the truck and Director of Technical Systems for the Department of Media Arts. “Now that we have our replay position where it needs to be, our content is higher quality and more professional.”
The production team works closely with ESPN3 to get feedback on each broadcast and discuss ways to continuously improve the content. Eli Lilly is the ESPN3 School Liaison and Campus Production Coordinator and notes the Avid system has had an impact on MTSU’s workflow. “Knowing what other schools are using for their replay systems and the limitations they put on their operators, I have to say the Avid system helped make the Media Arts Productions Group’s workflow more efficient.”
In fact, the increasingly high quality of the Group’s productions is helping the Athletic Department gain more television coverage for its live sporting events and bringing the production team new opportunities to produce live events. Today, they produce 30 live events a year, covering MTSU football, basketball, volleyball and soccer games and some community events, including the CMA red carpet.
“These games are revenue producers for the Athletic Department,” explains Nathan Wallach, Multimedia Specialist, MTSU Athletic Department. “The Media Arts Productions Group has been instrumental in getting an increasing amount of TV coverage for our live sporting events because they have the equipment to produce high quality broadcasts. Our student-athletes love it, our coaches love it from a recruiting standpoint, and athletes’ parents appreciate the opportunity to watch their student-athlete on a network-quality broadcast.”
The Media Arts Productions Group has been instrumental in getting an increasing amount of TV coverage for our live sporting events because they have the equipment to produce high quality broadcasts.
NATHAN WALLACH, MULTIMEDIA SPECIALIST, MTSU ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
Positioned for the Future
The Media Arts Productions Group is part of MTSU’s Department of Media Arts. Every position in the truck, with the exception of the engineers and the executive producer, is manned by a student. They also draw on students from the Recording Industry Program for audio and from the School of Journalism to do play-by-play, color and sideline reporting. Students interview for positions, are hired for their skills, and get paid for their work. It is an unusual arrangement, but one that positions students for their future careers.
“With Avid, we’re telling the story better, and our students are gaining invaluable, transferrable skills that prepare them for successful careers,” states Parrish. With 18 months of experience on the truck and poised to graduate soon, Shaw agrees, “Being able to make quick decisions, create quick playlists and put packages together quickly has made me much more marketable to a potential employer.”
Burlington, MA, 3/13/2018
Across the Country Avid FastServe powers live production for NCAA Division 1 collegiate athletic organizations while media production students gain valuable career skills
Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID), a leading global media technology provider for the creation, distribution and monetization of media assets for global media organizations, enterprise users and individual creative professionals, today announced that numerous National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 schools have invested in Avid’s new generation video servers. Tightly integrated into MediaCentral®, the industry’s most open and efficient platform designed for media, Avid FastServe™ enables the schools to create and manage high-quality content for live broadcasts on national cable network ESPN3, while giving students invaluable, transferrable skills that prepare them for success in their future careers.
The prestigious Department of Media Arts at Avid Learning Partner Middle Tennessee State University is the largest and longest-running program for creative media production in the state. The school’s on-campus production company, Media Arts Productions, produces events and high-quality live sports broadcasts including MTSU football, basketball, volleyball and soccer, which are regularly featured on ESPN3. To help the students quickly produce live content in real-time and meet ESPN3’s rigorous content requirements, the college has deployed Avid FastServe | Ingest, so its dispersed creative teams can access and edit incoming media as it’s being captured—even in demanding UHD resolutions—from anywhere, using any device.
“Adopting FastServe has helped Media Arts Productions’ workflow,” said Eric Lilly, school liaison campus production coordinator for ESPN3. “They were able to dedicate one operator to do specific player highlights and game trend packages. The fact that both sides of those machines were networked meant that the person cutting the packages had access to the replays as he was cutting his packages. Neither operator workflow interfered with the other. Knowing what other schools are using for their replay systems and the limitations they put on their operators, I have to say, the Avid system helped make Media Arts Productions’ workflow more efficient.”
“Avid FastServe is super reliable, super powerful, and super flexible. The speed at which we can do stuff now is at a really professional level,” added Isaac Shaw, MTSU student and lead package editor for Media Arts Productions. “With Avid, we’ve really been able to hone in on and figure out how to tell a story, and we have the flexibility to do so. For my personal development, having that skillset and the ability to make fast decisions and put packages together quickly has made me much more marketable to a potential employer.”
Other schools that have invested in FastServe for ultra-fast production turnaround include University of Hartford, University of Vermont, Binghamton University, Quinnipiac University, and Rider University through Avid’s world-class network of reseller partners, including Key Code Media, Metropolitan Interactive, and HB Communications.
“Through ESPN3, top Division 1 colleges and universities across the country can showcase their schools and athletes on the national stage,” said Alan Hoff, Vice President of Market Solutions, Avid. “Avid’s powerful sports production solutions give them the capabilities required to create high-quality content for ESPN3 at an affordable price, while giving students access to the same industry-standard tools they can expect to use in professional sports media environments.”
The new FastServe family of video servers builds on the rich heritage of Avid’s industry-leading AirSpeed® and PlayMaker™ servers. Its unified modular architecture supports UHD and IP I/O to enable ultra-fast ingest, turnaround, and playout in broadcast, news, sports and other live production environments. Higher channel counts per server result in a lower overall cost-per-channel, and a smaller footprint requires less cooling and power.