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True North Sports & Entertainment – Winnipeg Jets MTS Centre Control Room
Applied Electronics Enhances the True North Sports Experience with New Control Room at Winnipeg Jets’ MTS Centre
True North Sports & Entertainment owns and operates the MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League, the Jets' minor league affiliate, the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, as well as the MTS Iceplex.
As part of their $30 million True North 2020 initiative to upgrade its entertainment venue and enhance the fan experience by the year 2020, True North Sports began its $12 million off-season upgrades and renovations to the 11-year-old MTS Centre – a 440,000 square foot arena located in the heart of Winnipeg’s vivacious downtown core.
The enhancements included adding 278 new premium loge seats in front of the 300-level that feature 24-inch swivel chairs and a counter-style ledge; new seamless glass that improve sightlines for the 300-level; a new high definition centre-hung scoreboard which features four main screens that are two and a half times the size of the old screens and 10 times the resolution, plus upper and lower LED video rings; a new 360-degree power ring presenting two times the resolution of the old power ring.
Behind the scenes, a brand new fully HD control room – designed and integrated by Applied Electronics – controls all the new HD cameras, the video system, the content for the scoreboard and displays throughout the venue, as well as the feeds for the broadcasters. The control room ties it all together to produce enhanced game-day and concert experiences for fans.
At the broadcast production level, improving efficiency and production capabilities for MTS Centre staff by offering HD equipment and advanced production tools to create higher quality content was of paramount importance to True North Sports.
Working closely with True North Sports’ consultant, A J P Engineering Services, Applied Electronics began designing the new control room infrastructure and the broadcast systems in late May 2015. To accommodate the tight project time line, Applied Electronics pre-built equipment racks at its Mississauga, Ontario head office, and began on-site installation in Winnipeg mid-June. The control room was completed on August 10 – five weeks advance of True North Sports’ unveiling of the fully renovated venue to the media on September 16, and to hockey fans on September 22 when the Jets hosted the Minnesota Wild for an exhibition game.
Ikegami HC-HD300 full digital HDTV studio cameras with Canon lenses on Vinten tripods were used to capture action on the ice at full high definition resolution. Robotic cameras were installed under the scoreboard and the clock, and additional Marshall full-HD broadcast point-of-view (POV) ‘lipstick’ tube cameras, with protective casings to mitigate accidental damage, were retrofitted and mounted in the penalty box, home & away team hallways, and the home team bench to provide unique views of the game and the players.
In order to accommodate the new technology, old cables were rip out and SMPTE hybrid fiber/copper cables, some as long as 850 feet, were run throughout the facility. Applied Electronics also condensed existing fiber patch panel, which was 3/4 full, down to 1/4 of the space in the rack to accommodate future equipment.
At the heart of the control room production system is Ross infrastructure, which includes the Ross XPression real-time motion graphics system, Ross Acuity large production switchers designed to handle the world’s most challenging live events, a Ross NK-3G144 scalable 144x144 3G / HD / SD SDI router with a Ross NK-VRC virtual routing core for virtual routing and resource management. Additionally, Ross Inception social media management toolset is used to discover and curate social media content for use in productions.
An AJA Ki Pro tapeless, file-based video recorder and playback system that creates high-quality files on computer-friendly media was used, while for producing instant replay, an Abekas Mira Instant Replay server with DVCPro native recording system was utilized.
Providing multi-view were Grass Valley Kaleido-X 16-input dual head multi-image processors, as well as Ikegami HDTV LED backlit monitors with 3G input for clip and replay reviews.
A Soundcraft Si Expression 1 Digital live sound mixing console was added to enhance the existing audio system.
True North Sports’ marketing department also purchased full ENG camera kits to enable in-house media production and content generation for their in-venue digital signage as well as for its online properties.
“Applied Electronics brought specialized knowledge and experience in designing and building systems for live production operations to this project which helped enrich broadcast production and game day operations,” says Jamie Easson, Manager of Engineering Services at Applied Electronics. “This 11-week project was a huge success, and we’re very proud to have helped bring True North Sports’ vision to life for this beautiful state-of-the-art entertainment facility.”