Usually, the Television Services Department of the Village of Mount Prospect, Ill. (MPTV), uses its Broadcast Pix™ Slate 1000 video production system to produce live coverage of village board meetings and other local programming. But on May 26, 2010, the system became the cornerstone of a live American Idol finale viewing party on the Village Green outside Village Hall, where an estimated 5,000 people came to watch hometown hero Lee DeWyze win the competition.
According to Howard Kleinstein, cable production coordinator, Mount Prospect rented a 9×12-foot Jumbotron so the crowd could watch the live finale. For two hours prior to the broadcast, MPTV showcased footage from past show performances, as well as footage from DeWyze’s homecoming parade from earlier in the month, using the Slate’s Fluent Clip Store and a DVD player.
During the American Idol finale, the MPTV team displayed the show feed on the large screen, mixed with live images from its two Sony DSR-400 ENG camcorders on location. When the broadcast went to commercial, Kleinstein used Fluent Clips and Fluent Graphics to display video PSAs about MPTV programming, as well as graphics promoting local sponsors and coming events.
In an effort to minimize cable runs for the viewing party – the control room has no windows and is located on the third floor of Village Hall adjacent to the Village Board Room (similar to council chambers) – Kleinstein created a temporary control room on the main floor of the facility. The Slate 1000 was moved to a folding table and cables were run to the Village Green through an open window. A small LCD screen running Fluent Multi-View served as the program, preview, and source monitors.
Originally, Kleinstein thought he would be using the Comcast cable feed to screen the finale for the crowd. However, about an hour before pre-show programming was scheduled to begin, he was given an HD-SDI network feed from a satellite truck that was on location for the network. Kleinstein was able to convert the HD-SDI signal to composite, letterbox it for the 4:3 Jumbotron, and seamlessly combine his different sources (with different aspect ratios). “Without our Broadcast Pix, that would have thrown me for a loop,” he said.
Regular MPTV programming is produced and distributed locally in SD on Comcast and WOW! cable systems, as well as streamed live and on demand on the village’s Web site. Kleinstein hopes to upgrade the MPTV operation to HD in a few years. The Slate 1000, which replaced an old Trinity system from Play, Inc., was purchased from Roscor in Mount Prospect and installed by Television Services Department staff in March.
“We wanted something that was robust enough to be able to do CG work and clips and stills,” he said. “Broadcast Pix was able to do all those things – and be upgraded to HD without getting a whole new box.”
Kleinstein said the American Idol finale viewing party was a very positive way to showcase their village on national television. “The response was extraordinary. People were very happy with it,” he added. “The Broadcast Pix system worked flawlessly. We had no technical difficulties, and even the production team from Hollywood was impressed.”