An objective of the new building was to bring a big-city, professional feeling to a smaller arena, and to provide an outstanding attendee experience at games and other events. The arena had to give fans the ultimate game experience, using live content such as interviews as well as replays of the action. And of course, another important consideration was the ability to present commercial ads and maximize
Clearly, design and equipping of the video control room had to be state-of-the-art. As planning and development of the arena began, there was a competitive tender for the video control room installation. According to Dwayne Brown, consultant, audio/visual systems with E.C. Kai Group, the contractor handling the installation and implementation
process, Sony was selected for both equipment and installation requirements.
“Sony products are among the best I could choose for broadcasting, and it makes sense to have the people who are manufacturing the products to install them,” Brown explains. “Knowing their offerings, Sony is able to accomplish what I’m trying to do without having to look around to find the right products that will work together.”
It was also very important that the selected vendor be able to work closely with the team, and that it kept the bigger picture in mind.
While budget for the new facility dictated that this build use Serial Digital Interface (SDI), Brown notes proper planning ensured the arena has a clear upgrade path in place should the facility ever decide to go High Definition (HD). For complete flexibility, Sony installed 32
bulkheads throughout the arena, enabling camera people to simply plug in no matter where they are, minimizing the need for excessive cabling and mobile crews.
“My biggest priority was to find someone to work with me as opposed to trying to just sell me something,” Brown says. “Sony definitely
looks out for its customers’ interests, and not just their own. The
company has a great reputation in the broadcasting industry, and it
definitely delivers on that.”
Fast, reliable and flexible Now that the room is in use, the control room staff has found the Sony equipment to be easy to use, allowing them to bring fans the ultimate game experience, Brown explains.
In particular, he notes the training time that was originally planned was not entirely required, as most of the crew was able to pick up on equipment usage very quickly and efficiently. In general, training from
Sony involved more of an overview of differences in the new equipment, and this took only a day.
The installation process also took a relatively short time, and the project was completed on time and on budget. Installation began in September 2006, and the General Motors Centre opened with full fanfare and functionality on November 3, 2006.
“Kudos to the Sony team for their flexibility. This is a design-build project, which poses a number of different challenges than a regular construction does because things are changing on the fly. The installation crew was very flexible, and we were certainly appreciative of their patience as we got everything together under the looming
deadline of an opening night.”
At the end of the day, Brown notes the final result is an arena and video control room comparable to those used in the National Hockey League. “This is probably the best-equipped hockey arena in Ontario as far as video facilities go.”
SIDEBAR: Scoring big with Sony
The video control room at General Motors Centre is fully-equipped with
state-of-the-art Sony products: