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Downtown Showdown by Kate Phibbs W ith summer well and truly on its way out, what better way to send it off than a trip to Paris to produce and live stream the Vans Downtown Showdown 2013. After the success of producing and broadcasting the Vans Spring Classic in Italy in April, we here at 3xScreen Media knew that Downtown Showdown, Europe’s largest skateboarding competition, would need an extensive and envelope- pushing solution. Though the client was more than happy with our efforts in Italy, we were ready for the challenge of upping the ante for this much larger event. So, we assembled our best production and live streaming crew of fifteen, including seven cameramen, two directors/ vision mixers, two broadcast engineers, one producer, one graphics operator, and a floor manager and we sent them south across the Channel. The key challenge presented by Downtown Showdown was that we were essentially required to provide a production solution that covered four skate competitions in one. The competition was spread out over one day with teams of riders competing on four different obstacles. With five cameras per obstacle, there were twenty cameras positions in total 68 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 82 OCTOBER 2013 spread throughout the venue with very little time to move cameras and operators between obstacles. The resulting solution was an intricate combination of near-range wireless and pre-wired camera positions with fibre cable runs of up to 250 metres. The tried and tested 3xScreen Media event live production and streaming kit remained at the heart of the solution we provided for this event, though it required substantial supplementation. At the core of our production workflow is our suite of NewTek live production equipment. Starting with two, eight- channel NewTek Tricaster 855 video production studios, we utilised two directors for the two different elements of the broadcast. We wanted to maximise the competition coverage’s suitability not only for the general public but also for the expert skateboarding community watching from their PC or mobile device. Hence, in addition to our “non-skateboarding content” director who took care of things between the actual competition, we had one specialized skateboard director and a team of skate- experienced cameramen. The TriCaster system we use offers a number of benefits. The integration of audio engineering and VT operator roles reduces crew size and production costs. The Tricaster’s ability to record multiple combinations of program output with and without graphics and commentary allows us to provide content for the creation of a post-edit TV program as well as clips for uploading later to YouTube. The sibling to the TriCaster is the NewTek 3Play. For the modern sports broadcast, the inclusion of instant live replays is assumed as a given. For the integration of slow motion and real time replays within the production, 3xScreen Media uses the NewTek 3Play 425 six-channel replay machine. Our 3Play operator worked alongside the competition director to ensure no Kick Flips or Ollies went uncovered. Finally, completing our trifecta of NewTek production gear, we equipped our graphics engineer with NewTek’s LiveText computer. The key thing that Livetext offers is the creation of dynamic fully animated graphics for rider names, score sheets, presenter and interviewee names and more. Our graphics operator further improved the live graphics work-flow by introducing Young Monkey’s Master Control Unit. This third-party technology enables macros to automate TriCaster operations, making it possible to perform complex multi-key actions with the push of a touch screen panel button. As far as new additions to our kit go, Master Control wasn’t the only new piece on the scene. Any cameraman will tell you great coverage of an event all starts with having the right cameras