The facility is deployed during the playoffs to Stanley Cup Stories and Third period live
As the NHL drops the puck in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight, the league is flexing its production muscle with a new state-of-the-art studio at its new headquarters at One Manhattan West. The studio and accompanying control room, which launched this month for the Playoffs, is being used to produce the new Stanley Cup Stories YouTube digital series and will serve as the home of the new Third period live second-screen experience on YouTube from conference finals.
“It is a multi-faceted space that has been designed to be extremely flexible, which is required in today’s production world,” says Matt Celli, Vice President/Coordinating Director of NHL Studios, who oversaw the project. “We can do a traditional sports show or we can do a social media stand-up type show. Whatever the type of content, we can execute it in the look our content team wants. We also have state-of-the-art LED walls and state-of-the-art technology in the control room, so there’s plenty of [technological] firepower.”
The studio space, designed by Jack Morton Worldwide and manufactured by Black Walnut, features a 12 x 7 ft. LED display, five 65-inch vertical screens. LED screens and 12 walls of horizontal monitors. The NHL deployed two Panasonic PTZ box cameras and two other Panasonic robots on the ceiling (two Panasonic flypack robots are also used around the building). The new space also includes a Telemetrics OmniGlide robotic pedestal that allows new looks to be added to the screen and a wide range of possibilities for making creative use of the space.
“We seek to do our best to be credible in the content world,” says Celli. “We wanted to create a flexible space that looked great that could be broadcast but also could really turn heads and open eyes in the digital space.”
The SMPTE ST-2110-based installation was integrated by NEP and is built around an EVS Dyvi software-defined production switch and a Lawo IP router. Other key equipment includes the 12-channel EVS XS replay server (eight inputs/four outputs), two Ross Xpression CG/graphics systems (four output channels total), and Clear-Com intercoms.
“This [facility] is skinny and mean,” Celli says. “We have three or four people managing everything here compared to a traditional production environment, which would require more than 10 people. It’s thanks to the advanced technology we have in the control room, which provides a lot of [automation] and streamlines workflow.
In addition to the studio, the NHL has built more than half a dozen full editing suites (along with thin clients that allow users to edit at their desks), as well as several audio and graphics mixing rooms to service NHL Studios and NHL Original Production Teams.
“First and foremost, everything here is spoken. Right now I can log into an editing room and watch an edit happen live,” NHL Chief Creative Officer/EVP Steve Mayer said of the new production plant. “The connectivity in this building is amazing, but we’ve also kept the connectivity to people’s homes. Whether you’re in the office, at home or on the go, you always have access to everything.
The studio debuted for production Stanley Cup Stories, a VOD series streaming exclusively on YouTube every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET featuring the best content from teams across the league.
The next step will be Third period live, which will be uploaded exclusively to YouTube at the start of the third period for each game beginning with the Conference Finals. The show will serve as a complementary experience to the linear broadcast and will feature a more casual and conversational format. Additionally, the show will seek to engage more deeply with the NHL fanbase using chat clients available through YouTube.
“We want to create a sense of community where fans can come and have fun with each other and engage with the host as well,” says Mayer. “You should feel like you’re sitting in your living room or in a sports bar with a group of friends.”
He adds that Third period live will feature a strong integration of puck and player tracking, as well as a game component showing live odds and predictions. Similar to ESPN’s Manningcast and a cavalcade of other alternative presentations these days, Third period live will also feature celebrity guests brought on the show remotely.
Third period live will be broadcast live exclusively on YouTube as part of the NHL’s goal to bring more live content to the platform.
“We really want to deepen the YouTube space and create a community on YouTube where our fans can go and enjoy the live content we create,” Mayer says. “It’s something we haven’t done in the past: a feature-length show created specifically for this platform. We think there is definitely a future in this.