Wednesday, August 01, 2012

In just a short amount of time, the way in which people watch their sports has changed with technology. Once upon a time, you had to settle for whatever was programmed on television. Then, a few select games were streamed online, although the quality wasn’t much better than the Zapruder film. Now, though, almost every professional game or major college sport is available on the web and delivered in a way that competes with the quality you get on your television. And Fairmont State is getting into the game, too.

For the upcoming year FSU has purchased the necessary equipment that allows the school to essentially produce television broadcasts tailored to the web. The school acquired three cameras, over 3,000 feet of fiber cable, a video switcher and a portable rack station with computer and software that will produce high-definition webcasts of Fighting Falcon athletics. The equipment was purchased through the Fairmont State strategic planning grants.

“We are very excited about the new way people will experience Fairmont State and Fighting Falcon athletics on the Internet with our new equipment,” said Adam Zundell, associate director of athletics for media relations. “It will be great for our fans because they will get a television quality broadcast right on their computer wherever they are in the world.”

The upgrade is a significant step forward and is intended to keep up with fans’ expectations.  

“When we first started out, we approached our webcasting as being like a seat in the arena,” Zundell says. “We had the sound of the arena and just followed the action, and people were very happy to have that virtual seat.

“We progressed a little and added the audio to help navigate fans through the game. Now, though, people are looking for and expect a better, more sophisticated production because that is the normal standard in watching sports on the web. Of course, we want to exceed that standard, and we will be able to deliver a first-class viewing experience to our fans when watching Fairmont State athletics.”

It used to be that these kind of productions were reserved for professional teams or major Division I programs, but the technology has become accessible enough that many programs across the country are looking in-house to produce their games live on the web. That means schools don’t have to have a contract with ESPN in order for their fans to watch their games or to gain exposure.

The dramatic stop forward will also require extra effort and planning to go over production items, graphics, storylines and other pre-produced content before every game with the camera operators, talent and technical producer Roger Hayhurst. Prior to this, preparation for the games consisted only of getting the audio and video synced and pushed out to the web on game day.

“All of it is very exciting because we’re doing something new and cutting-edge,” Zundell said. “We’ll have some bumps along the way, but I think fans will be really pleased with their viewing experience.”

To stay up to date regarding the latest in Fighting Falcons athletics, visit www.fightingfalcons.com.