The San Francisco 49ers kicked off the 2014 NFL season in its new home, Levi’s® Stadium, with fans treated to a high-tech, high-definition, and networked game-day experience.
Levi’s® Stadium is the latest – and one of the largest – high-profile sports projects for Sony Electronics’ Solutions Development & Integration group. Sony led the design and installation of the stadium’s entire video production system, which includes large-scale LED displays and a specialized replay room. The professional equipment in the Santa Clara, CA, stadium includes six F55 4K cameras for game capture, the MVS-7000 series production switcher and more than 2,200 LCD displays in sizes ranging from 40 inches in HD resolution to 85 inches in 4K.
The stadium’s opening was the key step in Sony’s partnership with Levi’s® Stadium and the San Francisco 49ers, announced in December 2012 and covering a range of Sony’s professional and consumer products used throughout the stadium.
“Sony’s experience in professional products, consumer electronics, and entertainment will make the 49ers Museum and Levi’s® Stadium ‘must stop’ destinations for fans and guests of all ages,” said 49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York.
“Our organization is really excited over the potential of this tremendous collaboration with Sony,” said Robert Alberino, Jr., Vice President and Executive Producer for the San Francisco 49ers. “The key for us was to do some pretty fabulous things here in Santa Clara, things that other professional teams are not doing. We set out to accomplish a huge task: producing and directing not only the stadium show, but all our social media content, our website content and our full game-day broadcasts – all at the same high level of quality with the same gear.”
The Solutions Development & Integration group managed the integration of the Replay Control Room system, while Sony Electronics worked closely with WJHW for consulting and design services and with Diversified Systems (DSI) as the system integrator.
A unique feature of the 49ers’ new A/V system installation is the team’s ability to shoot game footage and deliver it live or via replay servers to the two large-scale LED displays or mobile devices almost instantaneously. Another project component feature is the stadium’s readiness to adopt 4K production.
The live show is initially being produced in HD, but the 4K acquisition capabilities provide the basis for future 4K production and post-production upgrades.
“That’s why we’re using the F55s across all our platforms,” Alberino said, “capturing at the highest resolution and then deriving superb HD from that content for whatever we need. We want to be able to shoot for years and years and archive this footage and really extrapolate the best that 4K can offer. We’re already putting out amazing footage that has incredible shelf life for the next decade and we have just a tremendous comfort zone with the F55s. We made the entire stadium show an F55 show which will be driven by this camera and it will allow us to have tremendous flexibility.”
Several of Sony’s security cameras are also used in the facility’s video surveillance systems. Levi’s® Stadium is using about 200 cameras throughout the stadium, 12 on the side of the stadium and for the practice facility building, and their hemispheric view 360-degree cameras inside the workout facility. About 70 additional cameras monitor parking areas, the stadium retail space, and ticket scanner stations and entrances.
“The 49ers technical leadership team, being veterans of a few of the most successful Silicon Valley startups, have very high expectations for agility in the development and delivery of the solution,” said Steve Young, director of Sony’s Solutions Development & Integration group. “Their vision for an advanced ‘content everywhere’ interactive network in the stadium drove us to quickly develop features and custom interfaces to realize their vision within the short timeframe of the project.”
The custom features that were developed for live production and content distribution throughout Levi’s® Stadium can also be applied to other major sports venues and Young noted they are currently working to develop similar systems for other venues.
“This is a terrific partnership with Sony and we didn’t realize just how much they shared in our vision until we started meeting with their team,” Alberino said. “They really helped us to become what we expect to become – a full-service production team. Again, not very many pro teams are doing this. Others might have somebody who just works their boards, somebody who works their websites, and somebody who works in their production department. For us, it’s one team across the board. Sony had the resources and expertise to put together a plan that matched how we work. Their innovation and creativity is going to make this stadium an unbelievable experience.