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stu06  
#1 Posted : Saturday, November 27, 2021 1:28:11 PM(UTC)
stu06

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This is a setup that was created by me for my high school that took a number of years to implement to the extent that I have today. This idea initially started when I was in middle school, but I finally have it to an almost complete place in my sophomore year of high school. This initially was a completely mobile setup but recently because of NDI and Dante we were able to accomplish a main static control room for all of the locations that we broadcast from (football/soccer field, main gym, baseball field, softball field, etc.) and this greatly reduced the setup time and allows for us to have much better control solutions. I figured a detailed description of this setup could be useful for other high schools and high school students so here it is:

Broadcast Control Room
Broadcast Control Room

Video Switching

The video switching that we are doing is being handled all within VMix(specifically the pro license). This allows us to directly integrate NDI, have dynamic titles, use multi-camera replay, encode to more than one platform, have backup recordings in different encapsulations, and obviously all of the other features in VMix. We use a pretty powerful Dell workstation to run VMix, Dante VIA, and Bome Midi translator, but there are a number of upgrades to it that will be made soon(more RAM, multiple SSDs). If you are looking into getting a similar computer I would recommend going with the additional RAM, multiple SSDs, and a processor that is clocked high but here are the current specs:

PCIe Cards in the 7820
PCIe Cards in the 7820

Dell 7820 Workstation Tower(specifically a workstation-grade computer for the additional PCIe lanes)

  • CPU - Intel Xeon Silver 4210R 2.4Ghz base 3.2 Ghz boost clock 10 cores


  • Again I would recommend going with a CPU with a high base clock


  • OS - Windows 10 Pro for workstations(4+ cores)


  • Chassis Configuration - 950W PSU with the flexbay configuration


  • SSD - M.2 1TB PCIe NVMe Class 40 drive


  • I would recommend 2 of these


  • RAM - 16GB(2x8gb) DDR4 2666mhz ECC memory


  • I would recommend 32GB


  • GPU - Nvidia RTX Quadro 4000


Additional PCIe Cards(not included from Dell)

  • tp-link TX40110 GBE network card


  • Future-proofing for potential 10 gig network and also making sure the network card is not a limiting factor


  • Blackmagic Design Quad HDMI card


  • if you need to take in multiple HDMI sources that are close by


  • Blackmagic Design Decklink Mini Monitor 4k(2x)


  • Two to drive the TV's in our control room


  • Note: one of them is in a PCIe 1x slot rather than the recommended 4x slot but since in my case it is only running at 1080p 30 it functions fine


Control

UserPostedImage
Midi Controllers(picture from much earlier on in the project)

Rather than using expensive purpose-made controllers like X-keys as a cost-saving measure, I decided to use midi controllers for control surfaces for VMix. It is important to note that using multiple controllers in VMix requires some Midi translation for VMix to understand the differences between the different controllers to take data from them and return the lighting data to the controllers. I use Bome Midi Translator Pro for this and it is running on the system described above. Here is what my file for it looks like. If you have any questions on what exactly it's doing DM me. It takes the incoming midi messages and then translates the command to the one midi link actually going into VMix. The controllers we use are listed below:

Akai Professional Fire Controller FL Studio

  • Used for program and preview bus video switching for mix A and mix B


  • The design of it makes it work very nice


  • The activators from VMix to make the lights of this device light up are a PAIN to set up but because of the SysEx messages that make it work but this blog that took forever to find explains how you can make each of the buttons light up any way you want


Novation Launchpad Mini

  • Used for display titles and a few other misc functions like starting playlist and "external" rendering for the tv's


Akai MIDIMIX

  • For controlling audio levels of the cameras, commentators, and a few buses


Behringer Xtouch One

  • For controlling instant replay marking and playback


It's sort of a nightmare and takes forever to get all of these controllers working properly, but it is well worth it once it is all done. It makes operation much simpler and tactile for operators and is hugely important in an efficient workflow. For documentation on this check VMix and Bome for information, but again if there is any confusion feel free to message me.

Title Control

UserPostedImage
Commentator Table

VMix Universal Title Controller(UTC) and VMix panel builder are incredibly useful free tools for title control from more than one person. In this setup, I have 2 laptops that are sitting next to the commentators that run NDI Studio Monitor so they can see the Multiview and VMix UTC to pull up player titles with their name, position, grade, and height from a list of all of the player names. The way this works is I compile all of the player information into a Google Sheet and download it as a CSV. Then I made a quick little VB.NET program that takes the CSV and changes the deliminator to a "|" character so you can import the list into UTC(here it is). This is accomplished in a really weird way but definitely shoot me a DM if that didn't make sense.

UserPostedImage
Scoreboard OCR

Something I am currently demoing is Scoreboard OCR to take a camera feed of the scoreboard and turn it into live title information. This is a really simple solution to getting a live feed of the scoreboard.

Audio

UserPostedImage
If there was a simple part of this setup, this is it. It really is not as fully-fledged as it could be but at the moment it does the job. The primary mixer is VMix. For ambient audio, we use a couple of Rode Video Mics connected to a few of the cameras, and then we take the embedded NDI audio in VMix. For commentators, it's a little bit more complicated. The pieces are described below:

Presonus Studio Live 16.0.2 USB

  • This was a handed down mixer and is a bit overkill but it does the job


  • It takes the commentator headsets and mixes them in the main while providing other mixes in Aux 1 and Aux 2 so the commentators can hear themselves along with an audio return channel that is coming from a Dante AVIO 2 output device


  • For remote control of this mixer, I have the control software over USB pulled up on one of the laptops at the commentator area and the laptop can be remoted into from the control room over NDI HX screen capture


Audio-Technica BPHS1 Audio Headset

  • Headsets the commentators wear


  • The only thing I don't like about them is the lack of any mute on them


Dante AVIO 2 In

  • Takes the main output from the soundboard and sends it over the school network


  • Make sure the gain on the back of the soundboard for the mains is turned down otherwise it peaks heavily


https://preview.redd.it/...d58706072595471e44250895
  • Dante AVIO 2 Out


  • Sends the audio return channel into the soundboard with a talkback channel, and a mix-minus from VMix(accomplished in a very interesting manner) so they can hear if ads are playing


Dante VIA Software

  • This runs on the main VMix computer to integrate all of these Dante sources into the broadcast


Dante is a whole huge topic by itself that is complicated but in such small channel counts it doesn't have to be difficult

Cameras/NDI Encoders

UserPostedImage
Testing of the BirdDog Mini Encoders

The cameras we use are handed down from another program but they are pretty good for the $1k price range. It is a combination of Canon Vixia G30s, G40s, and G50s camcorders but all of them are standardized down to 1920x1080 59.94p. For NDI encoders we are using six of the BirdDog Mini's. So far they have worked great for me and the intercom function has been critical in keeping the cost of this system down(more on that in the intercom section). POE has also helped to reduce a lot of power cabling that would be otherwise required. The camera mount is also super useful to make it a compact solution like pictured above and below.

UserPostedImage

Intercom

UserPostedImage
BirdDog Comms Pro Running on a computer in the control room

For intercom, this system uses BirdDog Comms pro. I am not going to lie, it's unreliable and very subpar. However, real intercom that would bridge to multiple locations like this is incredibly expensive and would essentially ruin the incredibly low-cost part of this solution. Nothing can beat free(for schools and non-profits BirdDog Comms pro is available for free in the BirdDog together promotion) so this is what we have been using. It really reduces cabling as well since the NDI and intercom are going over one cable to each camera location. I am still in the process of fine-tuning this intercom so that it doesn't completely suck, but I guess that is just part of it. The special part about the way I am doing it for this solution is accomplishing the intercom for each member in the control room. The computer running Comms Pro has speakers set up in the corner and then has a small Behringer soundboard with USB support. Then each of the stations in the control room has a cheap Shure microphone on a stand that connects to the Behringer soundboard so that each member can talk to the camera operators.

Other Things Of Note

UserPostedImage
  • All of this is running on my school network which causes a number of issues since it isn't in my control at all


  • I have had a few small issues with Dante and NDI having delayed packets occasionally, but as far as I know, this is network issues with my school that I am trying to resolve.


  • a system like this takes lots of time to fine-tune and get to a good state


  • This uses a lot of computers at a lot of different places, using NDI Screen capture HX and enabling KVM control makes life a lot easier to change settings on a computer at the venue while you are in the control room over NDI studio monitor


UserPostedImage

As a whole, here are the pros and cons I find with this system:

Pros

  • Huge input/routing flexibility


  • Its VMix, you can take anything and everything and get it in one way or another


  • You can route essentially whatever you need in and out of the system at multiple different points


  • Dante and NDI are incredibly flexible


IP based(pro and a con)

  • Can span large distances without a lot of cabling(which can be a big turn off for schools)


  • Most likely have the infrastructure already in place(in a school setting)


Very cost-effective

  • for a rough estimate of everything going on with this system I would say it is between $20k-$25k to implement


Stable location

  • One control room provides a much cleaner and setup environment than the common solution for high schools of my size which is to move all equipment around place to place


Instant Replay

  • Makes the broadcasts look way more professional and is not difficult to implement within VMix


Multi-location at the same time

  • With VMix and NDI we can run cameras all across our school and athletic locations and even have more than one location sending us feeds at the same time


  • NDI Bridge might potentially give us the ability to have even essentially venue our school participates at to be controlled from one room


Multi venue

  • For most schools the football field, gym, softball field, baseball field, etc all need a broadcasting solution and this system gives us the ability to have a central control room that runs it all


Cool-factor

  • As a student who is trying to get other students to participate in this program showing off a cool room in the school with a ton of TV's, displays, and control surfaces is... helpful to say the least


Cons

All windows based

  • If windows isn't your best friend then this would be a nightmare(luckily it's my preferred choice)


  • The only aspects of this system that are dedicated video/audio hardware is the commentary soundboard, NDI encoders, and Dante AVIOs the rest is windows software-based which automatically reduces reliability


IP based(pro and a con)

  • Integration into an already setup network makes it easier on the front end but also gives potential issues in the future(I am currently having to solve issues with dropped frames which at the moment is around .12% per 5 mins)


  • Not as reliable as a normal video or audio line


Latency

  • Not even close to being fast enough for any IMAG like situations


BirdDog Comms Pro

  • A mild disaster but is crucial to keeping costs down


  • Although it's an issue, if you want to implement a similar system and have the budget just go for a standalone intercom system


General Communication

  • As a group, our workflows must change a lot because commentators/camera ops are at the venue whereas all of the control is in a room that is not directly next to it


What I Would Do Differently

As a whole, there is not much I would do differently with this setup. Moving to a static control room like this earlier would have been nice, but this was as soon as realistically possible that it could happen. The same could be said about the computer components. We have to upgrade them now, but that kind of money just was not available in the budget all at once.

Future Plans

This project is now at a point where I am very comfortable with it but looking towards the future there are more things I would like to do. Upgrading all of our tripods is definitely needed. In the future, I would like to get a second VMix system that only runs replay to take the load off of just one and allow us to easily do all 6 cameras for replay. The only other big thing that I want to do equipment-wise before graduating now is setting up NDI bridge so that our program has all of the flexibility that is reasonably possible. I would want a standalone transcoding computer at each end and that just takes even more money. Things that would be more quality of life would be improving the computers in the control room considering they are all hand me down pieces of equipment from our IT department. The rest of my focus will be finding the next person to run the program whether that is another student or a staff member.

There are probably many aspects of this that I have forgot and this just scratching the surface of everything that is going on here. Feel free to DM me or comment with any questions if you have them, I would love to help anyone trying to accomplish a similar thing.

Note: This is all copied from my reddit post here so apologies for any formatting issues.
thanks 2 users thanked stu06 for this useful post.
ginesromero on 12/14/2021(UTC), mflorian on 2/19/2022(UTC)
IceStream  
#2 Posted : Sunday, November 28, 2021 12:45:02 AM(UTC)
IceStream

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@ stu06

Awesome stuff, thanks for sharing!
Would love to see some samples of what your team is able to produce (if you are allowed to share a link).
I take it you are getting a lot of positive feedback from the student body and community in general?


Ice
stu06  
#3 Posted : Sunday, November 28, 2021 2:04:28 AM(UTC)
stu06

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Thank you! It's no problem at all!
The first broadcast we have done with this new control room was sort of a disaster because of a few technical things that went wrong(comms pro issues, peaking on the Dante audio path that I could not initially find), but I have resolved the issues and the next one which is Friday should be much better. I will post that when it is complete, but in the meantime, I can share with you the best one we have completed while it was still a fully mobile solution:

There were a few issues with this one such as the replay transitional audio playing throughout the 3rd quarter, but it was too loud in the pressbox for us to realize that. Luckily that will not be an issue for us now that we have a separate control room!
We get a decent amount of positive feedback from the community, but probably not as much as the whole team deserves. I just do not think that many people watch it and really realize just how much time and effort goes into each broadcast.
sinc747  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, December 1, 2021 9:47:50 AM(UTC)
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@ stu06

Very impressive! A great example of persistence and commitment.
DM sent.

- Tom
thanks 1 user thanked sinc747 for this useful post.
stu06 on 12/1/2021(UTC)
AlbertoBCN  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, December 28, 2021 8:32:53 AM(UTC)
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It seems that you are having issues with the scoreboard ocr, at least from what I was able to see on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrMGiX2CAUA).

What kind of scoreboard are you using? Does it have an RS232 port? Or any kind of cable or RF communication with the scoreboard screen? It is not very hard to code a python program that can read basically anything and translate it to json for then reading it in vmix.

For instance, this scoreboard: https://canalfeb.tv/video?videoId=e-43671
is done by a raspberry pi, reading RS232 data, making a json string that then goes to a remote video server and overlays the video feed and the camera (only one camera, only one operator involved).

stu06  
#6 Posted : Thursday, February 10, 2022 7:03:46 AM(UTC)
stu06

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The scoreboard we have is a Nevco. Do you have any idea if that would be possible with their interface?
mflorian  
#7 Posted : Saturday, February 19, 2022 1:13:17 AM(UTC)
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This is phenomenal. Working on a PM to you right now - we run vMix in our school (actually north of you in Indiana!) and have been looking for something like this to set up. Love love LOVE the passion you have for this, and the products you folks put out is amazing!
stu06  
#8 Posted : Saturday, February 19, 2022 3:01:37 AM(UTC)
stu06

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I'll be sure to read it and reply in a bit!

Thank you! I am glad you appreciate the content we are putting out!
This is a more recent example of one of our broadcasts with the new system:
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