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A team of TV production students recently took on an ambitious final major project, live streaming a Solent Kestrels basketball game, in a way that has never been done before.

22nd February 2024
TV, film, media production and technology

A team of TV production students recently took on an ambitious final major project, live streaming a Solent Kestrels basketball game, in a way that has never been done before. The project titled, ‘Nothing but net’, saw the team get to grips with a 15-camera set-up, studio presentation, graphics, EVS, Piero, courtside reporters, and pre- and post-match interviews – with support from students across a range of courses in film and media. The students also had a range of industry professionals in attendance from BT Sport, Sky and Eviden, building up fantastic connections and showcasing their skills before they even graduate.

We caught up with third year student BA (Hons) Television Production student, and director of the project, Ben Killackey who told us more about how the project went on the day, and how opportunities like this are preparing them for their future careers.

Hi Ben, tell us more about ‘Nothing but net’

Nothing But Net certainly was a megaproject, and by far the biggest I’ve ever worked on. Ever since starting at Solent, Sonar Events (Then SonarTV) covered all the home games of the Team Solent Kestrels basketball team. In 2021, this was just done with three cameras and a commentator, nothing more, nothing less. I remember going home back to halls after that first game I attended right at the start of my university journey and drawing up and designing graphics and ideas on how the coverage could be improved.

Early on at Solent I began working with Sonar Events and quickly started to build up the technical aspects, adding more every week and improving our productions. Nothing But Net was a true 'completed it' moment for me, with years of hard work feeling like they’d led to this moment – for this project, we were now at 15 cameras, studio presentation, graphics, EVS, Piero, courtside reporters, and pre- and post-match interviews - we were really lucky to have it all.

Our core group of six, alongside Sonar Events, knew we wanted to do something a bit different that's not been done before on our course - combining our regular live basketball match coverage with the studio presentation opportunity presented by using the University’s brand-new LED virtual production wall. We are all passionate about creating the best work possible, a lot of us love the thrill and pressure of live broadcast, especially live sports.

Image shows team of students in front of the VP screen

What were the biggest challenges with this project?

By far the biggest challenge, and continued worry for me throughout the project, was finding the crew. We knew we needed over 50 students to get involved, and the amount of time we were asking people to give up for rehearsals alongside the day was high, but thankfully there are so many passionate students at Solent, we managed to ensure every role was covered - we even had a student from college in on work experience on the day.

I feel incredibly grateful to have received as much support on the project from the industry as we did, having free rein and access to this much kit like this was a truly once in a lifetime, and something that’ll live on with me throughout the rest of my career.

Image shows two students in front of the virtual production screen

How did the event go on the day?

The event went really well on the day! We managed to successfully produce five hours of live broadcast content, four feature VTs, studio analysis, and match coverage - all with 15 cameras, three EVS operators, and over 50 crew. We had very few technical hiccups and the whole thing went smoothly, which was a fantastic achievement for the whole team - we all left very proud.

The production team was made up of students from a variety of Solent courses. These included live event technology undergraduates who are focused on the technical side of the broadcasts, whether that be video, audio or communications. However, most of the students involved are production students from either the TV, film or media courses who are interested in live broadcasting and the associated technology. We even have students from games design who have got involved using some of the visual storytelling tools.

Image shows student working on live stream of event

Tell us more about the technical set-up on the day

The project was a huge challenge technically – how could we link our custom built gallery in the sports complex into the University’s TV studio with no latency, linking video, audio and comms?

We knew we wanted to push ourselves with what’s possible. This took months of planning and testing with the help of Richard Hammond (news and media technical instructor), and eventually we linked the two together with two long fibre cables kindly donated by Timeline. We were also donated the Piero system alongside an EVS XT3 server - this is the same system used for analysis in the likes of Match of the Day and on Sky Sports.

Image shows team of students working on live streaming the event

And finally, how are opportunities like this preparing you for your future careers?

This event was as real-world as you can get. It was a fantastic opportunity for all Sonar Events members to experience a wide range of roles involved in a live production, experiencing roles that typically aren’t taught in modules, such as Piero, EVS, and graphics.

Technical Instructor for News and Media, Richard Hammond, said: “It was fantastic to see the incredible amount of work that has gone into this event all come together on the day.

It was also very insightful being able to witness part of the journey too - some incredible talent from Ben and the other students who were involved. The bar has indeed been set very high! I now look forward to seeing all involved progress into industry.”