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This and That

Haven’t been ignoring the blog this week.  It’s more like I’ve been avoiding the construction site.   The workers are right in the middle of doing a big portion of the terazzo flooring and to be honest, it’s just a pain to get around right now.  I always feel bad cutting through areas where those guys are working, and sometimes I just prefer to get out of the way and let them do what they have to do.

With that in mind, here’s what we have cooking on the nerd side of things:

* We’ve just about finalized what all of our crew positions and work stations are going to be in the video control room.  Down to the last few positions, we’ve really been focusing on getting the right equipment in there that will bring the best bang for the buck for the fans.

* Hope to move the 360 degree webcam tomorrow to a different location.  Thinking on the main concourse level or the front of the upper bowl at the opposite end of where we’ve been.  We’ve been recording all of the images from the camera and I watched a cool timelapse the other day at the Eyesee360 Studios.

* Tomorrow we will get a look at what the main camera positions will look like for the first time.  We’ll be bringing in a full broadcast rig to test the sight lines.  Really excited for this one, we have great cameras going in and with the camera positions both lower and closer hopefully we can get a much better feel on the broadcasts for the true speed of the game.  Will try to get a comparative video up.

* Dasher boards are coming soon, probably in the next few weeks.  Exciting for us because we can finally see where we can cut them to put the low POV (point-of-view) robotic cameras in.  We’re hoping to get one at center ice, and one down at the double attack zone.  What we hope to do with these cameras is really get a unique perspective for tight shots.  We shoot down on the guys so much, sometimes it’s hard to capture “whats it feel like at ice level” feeling.  Hopefully we can pull it off.

* We continue to work hard on the wi-fi integration into CONSOL.  We have a lot more places to rig access points over there, and while it’s going to be a difficult task (no idea how much a pain wireless was until I was forced to dive deep into it) I’m confident we’re going to have a great system over there.

* Off tech -  the locker stalls are starting to be put in.  They look great.  Will try to get some photos tomorrow and get them up on penguins.nhl.com

* Thanks for the many kind words, retweets, and emails on the “break-up letter” to Mellon last week.  I’d been thinking about it pretty much since I moved down to the main office at Chatham Center at the beginning of the year.  I just didn’t expect to have to write it so early.  It was a special place for me, and I’m going to miss it.  If you haven’t seen it, the game ops crew cut a great tribute video at the end of the season, and it was the last video played at Mellon Arena:
http://penguins.nhl.tv/team/embed.jsp?catid=19&id=65458

OK, that’s a short one today — I’m sure someone from TPB would call it lameblog.  Just wanted to shoot a quick update.

Buzzing Like Bees Around A Hive

Just got done with a really crazy week at CONSOL Energy Center.   Things always move fast there, but this week in particular had an extra jump to it.  Maybe it’s because we’re less than 90 days away from substantial completion that’s causing everyone to hunker down a little bit more.  Here’s what I saw:

- They are doing a lot of the terrazzo finish – and a lot of the final floor finish in general.  The arena is really hard to navigate because with every turn you seem to run into a closed off area. 

- I think they raised the center hung structure Friday to set the limits on it, but I didn’t get to make it to the site in time to see.  They’ve been intermittently tossing up Avatar on Blu-Ray, and the colors look spectacular.

- Installation (rack and stack, as the racking dudes say) on the control room began this week as well.  It’s not quite like Christmas morning, but maybe it’s akin to when you order a bunch Christmas gifts online and they show up at your house.  So we have our Chyron HyperX3 in the house, the Ikegami cameras, the Ross switcher, and a crapload of monitors and converters.

- Funny thing about this room.  The part where we put all of our racks and terminal equipment is easily bigger than our entire control room at Mellon Arena.

- It will probably take about two and a half months to put this room together.  There’s about a billion and a half wires that all have to have connectors put on one end, that in turn have to be neatly dressed into the racks and connected to the equipment.

- After that comes the actual configuration, commissioning, and training which takes a month in itself.  Not going to be much of a summer vacation this year.

- The lot behind the arena where the TV trucks will park and the loading docks will be is starting to take shape.  Thank God.  After walking through the mud since the fall I am so happy to finally see concrete that I wanted to lie down and kiss it.  Seriously.

- Most of the seats in the lower bowl have been installed, and the retractables are in too. 

- Carpet is going into a lot of the suites – maybe all at this point.  If you’re lucky enough to be in a suite you are going to be so shocked at how roomy they are.  It’s really going to be a great experience.

-  Have I said TV’s are everywhere?  If not – TV’s are everywhere.  Stood at a spot on the upper concourse yesterday and was able to see 8 TV brackets from where I was standing.  At a much wider spot on the lower concourse, I could see 12.   Plus, with the open concourses that let you see into the bowl no matter where you are,  you aren’t going to feel out of touch when you grab some delicious nachos.  I don’t think I can really explain how different of an experience it is from Mellon where it’s not open at all.  You’ll know as soon as you walk through the first time.

- And of course, what’s a trip to the arena without me taking a walk out on the roof.  Took a couple co-workers out with me, too.  They asked, “Are we allowed to be out here?” to which I replied that “I come out here all the time.”  To which they again asked, “Are we allowed to be out here?”  Sorry, just had to go out and see the satellite receivers.  I couldn’t be stopped.

- Finally, hats off to the guys working for TSI Global (or sub-contracting to them, I’m not sure at this point so apologies if I get it wrong) that are moving a lot of the audio and lighting racks up into place.  People, I did this job a long time ago when I worked for Synergistic Technologies (now Azcar) and it is no fun at all.  Every day you come home scraped up with a new cut somewhere and feeling like you just got beat up while tumbling down a hill.  I do not miss those days at all.  Hats off to the cats who have the energy and patience to do this kind of thing day in and day out. 

Hopefully next week  I can contribute to this space a bit more.  It’s getting more and more difficult to write here and post pictures, although it one of things I look forward to every week.  I’ve had tons of folks ask me about 3D and what my thoughts are how it relates to hockey, and I have the post about 3/4 of the way done.

Thanks for listening.

Video on the video screens

Andy Sheehan from KDKA-TV took a tour of Consol Energy Center today.  Nice timing for him as we were running some game video from Game 1 (the tape of Game 2 was mysteriously lost) on the screens.

This is also the first look at the scoring matrix above the main display.  This is a 5×25 screen that we’ll put time, scoring, and penalty info.  Of course at Mellon Arena, we display that information with a Lite Brite.

The Penguins web header and Mitsubishi Electric logos are just coming off of a laptop, since we don’t have the control software in yet.

As a reminder, it wasmuggy this morning and my hair was wet for about 4 hours.  Also, the camera adds 15 pounds and it was a 5 camera shoot.  Sheesh.  Eat a salad, Chris.

Photo gallery coming on pittsburghpenguins.com later, but here’s a nice hi-res still image to hold you over.

First Image On New Screens

Here it is.  As good as the pictures look, they don’t really do the screens justice.  It’s absolutely overwhelming how good they look.

With LED boards, the further away you are the better they look.  On a 10mm screen, when you walk right up on one of them it’s difficult to tell what you are looking at.

With these Mitsubishi 6mm screens, I was standing right on top of them and they still look great.

First image was of course, Lord Stanley’s Cup.

We also looked at raw video of our headshot shoot and some game action as well.  We were looking at an cable HD signal recorded off a DVR and it still looked stellar.

We Have Ignition

Big day today at Consol Energy Center — we fired up the main video displays for the first time.

Wow.

It’s a hard to describe the moment when something you’ve only seen in your imagination and on CAD drawings comes alive with the press of a button.  As I crawled out of the structure to see the screens I was almost afraid to look.  All I’ll say is that it defied all expectations.  I took a quick little video with my Flip camera and was talking and it’s funny to hear myself lose my train of thought because I’m so in awe of what I’m looking at.

Pens fans — this is going to change your game experience in a big big way.

Forget everything that you’ve read and heard about the screens from us & Mitsubishi.  It’s better.

Pictures coming tomorrow and probably a photo gallery over the weekend on pittsburghpenguins.com




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