University of Portland Nets Increased Sports Media Coverage

By: Heather Halsey

When Jose Nevarez was hired by University of Portland Athletics in 2014 his long-term goal was to increase exposure for the Pilots by broadcasting games on Comcast SportsNet.

Just 18 months later, fans throughout the Pacific Northwest were able to watch the Portland Pilots women’s basketball team play the Boise State Broncos live on TV.

“It was really rewarding to hear from people that they were able to watch the game on live TV,” Nevarez says about the game that aired Dec. 6, 2015. “We got a lot of recognition for that and I was happy we could make it happen in such a short time.”

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(Left to right) Director John McConell, Jose Nevarez producing the game, Assistant Director on the phone with Comcast Master Control.

As the live video services program manager, Nevarez and Director of Video Services James Vega will oversee the production of eight Pilots home games for broadcast during the 2015-16 school year.

Their team also produces, “Portside With The Pilots,” a monthly 30-minute show that airs on Comcast SportsNet Northwest, in addition to full games that are available online and clips for the school’s YouTube and social media channels.

Closing the deal with Comcast was not only a slam dunk for the university but also part of an initiative established by the West Coast Conference to gain media coverage for its 10 member schools.

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Cameraman Bob Pallota shoots some pre-game commentary from play-by-play man Travis Demers (center) and color analyst Bill Krueger (right)

Preparing For a Wider Audience

The conference began preparing its members for increased media exposure in 2013 by issuing each school a flight pack with new digital video equipment, including a compact multimedia studio from NewTek.

The new video equipment replaced outdated analog equipment and was the first step toward preparing the University of Portland’s in-house video department, Portland Sports Network, for broadcast.

Prior to signing their broadcast agreement, Comcast initially had some questions about the university’s video equipment and asked Nevarez to send them a stream for review. He says they were immediately pleased with the quality of their video.

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Steve Kaufman mans the camera.

“The moment they saw it, they said it was great,” he says. “All of a sudden the kind of equipment we were using didn’t matter because they could see the quality was there.”

To meet the infrastructure requirements to produce games for Comcast, the basketball arena and control room were re-cabled in winter 2015.

In preparation for expanded media coverage in the future, the university is in the process of building a control room and has already installed caging to provide a secure, enclosed workspace within the Chiles Center basketball and volleyball arena. The full enclosure is scheduled for completion in summer 2016.

An Adaptable, Easy-to-Use Workflow

To capture high-quality video, the team uses four Sony HXR-NX5U cameras that were provided by the conference. They also purchased a JVC GY-HM650 for additional coverage and use GoPro cameras to get unique shots behind soccer nets or above basketball nets during games.

All cameras are prewired and they only need to run about 25 feet of cable for all basketball, soccer, and baseball games. The campus’ fiber optic cabling infrastructure is being installed and will allow Nevarez and his team to run all soccer and baseball facilities back to the basketball arena so all video can be managed from there.

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Game camera operator Wade Carpenter and high tight, Michael DiBiase.

“We will only need to have talent and camera men out at the games, which will really help with tight schedules,” Nevarez says.

To bring it all together, the Portland Sports Network team uses a TriCaster 860 from NewTek as their multi-media studio. Nevarez says the TriCaster is the first switcher he ever used when he was a student at Lewis & Clark College.

“This year we upgraded to TriCaster Advanced Edition to use Mix/Effects (M/E’s) and auxiliary outputs to give the coaches the information they need for their film,” he said. “This year I also started using Macros—they make my life a little easier and keeps me from making mistakes.”

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Pilots main replay operator, Jeremiah Rickert on the 3Play 425.

Nevarez and his team use a NewTek 3Play 425 instant replay server that makes professional instant replay and slow motion available. Nevarez says the simplicity of it allows him to train a student worker to use it within 15 minutes.

For audio, they use Daltech Talkback boxes to communicate with announcers and a full IFB system so they can speak off the air. The team uses Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun microphones and headsets with MP66 microphone preamplifiers. Audio is run off a Yamaha 16-channel audio mixer, plus an additional 8 channels for a total of 24 channels of audio.

Delivering a High-Quality Broadcast

Whether it’s basketball games at the Chiles Center or soccer matches at Merlo Field, the Portland Sports Network is there to catch all the action.

Nevarez says other schools have reached out to find out more about their video program so they can implement similar solutions to garner more media coverage for their teams.

He credits his entire team and their student workforce with the success they’ve had getting games on Comcast SportsNet in such a short time period. Nevarez says that although a journalism or broadcast major is not offered at the university, he’s had more than a dozen students seek out the video program on their own.

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Portland Pilots Basketball Technology Coordinator, Tim Grass.

“They’re all really intrigued by our equipment and pick things up really quickly,” he says. “Some of them hadn’t even touched a camera when they began; now they can shoot and edit an entire show.”

Since their equipment is easy to use, Nevarez says the students are able to pick things up quickly and he’s seen many students flourish, alongside a few contract employees on the team.

“We have a really great crew with a lot of different talents,” he says. “You’d never guess we only have about 18 people instead of the 40 person teams you see at production companies.”

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At a Glance

  • The University of Portland is a private, four-year university located on 150 acres in a quiet residential neighborhood on a bluff above the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.
  • In Jan. 2016, there were 3,654 undergraduates and 469 graduates enrolled at the University.
  • The Portland Pilots play six men’s sports and eight women’s sports.
  • The women’s soccer team won national championships in 2002 and 2005.
  • The university’s mascot is Wally Pilot, a muscular riverboat pilot.

Workflow

  • The video control room is located in the Chiles Center where video is managed for all sporting events.
  • Cameras are prewired and 25-foot cable is run for all games.
  • Video from the Sony HXR-NX5U, JVC GY-HM650 and GoPro cameras goes into the TriCaster 860.
  • A 3Play 425 instant replay server is used to make replays and slow motion available.
  • Daltech Talkback boxes are used to communicate with announcers with a full IFB system.
  • The team uses Sennheiser ME 66 shotgun microphones and headsets and MP66 microphone preamplifiers.
  • Audio is run off a Yamaha 16-channel audio mixer, plus an additional 8 channels.
  • Videos are aired on Comcast SportsNet Northwest and the conference’s digital network, TheW.TV.
  • Clips and game footage are also posted on their website and YouTube channel.

Gear

  • 27” iMac, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro
  • Marshall Video Monitors
  • NewTek TriCaster 860
  • NewTek 3Play 425
  • NewTek LiveText
  • Sony HXR-NX5U
  • JVC GY-HM650
  • GoPro Cameras
  • Daltech Talkback
  • RTS Partyline System
  • Sennheiser Microphones and Headsets
  • ME66 Shotgun Microphones
  • Sony ECM-44B Condenser Microphones
  • Yamaha 16-Channel Audio mixer, plus an additional 8 Channels
  • DJI Phantom 3 Drone
  • Blackmagic Smart Videohub

Learn more about:

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