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Wed 24 Oct 2007 11:00 AM

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UAE University students produce live sport in Vegas

Last month, eight young Arab women from the UAE University in Abu Dhabi travelled to Las Vegas for the live production and broadcast of a volleyball tournament.

Last month, eight young Arab women from the UAE University in Abu Dhabi travelled to Las Vegas for the live production and broadcast of a volleyball tournament. The Durango High School Fall Classic Tournament, which took place on October 5 and 6 at the Durango High School campus in Las Vegas, played host to 32 teams and many players from around the country.

Through the Middle East Broadcasters (MEB) Association initiative "Setting New Broadcasting Standards for the Arab World", women from Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon and Bahrain also joined Oregon-based video production firm Interschool Television (iTV) to produce the web broadcast that was available for viewing live around the world.

Dale Matthews, executive director of iTV organised the first live tournament webcast with Durango High School organisers last year. That webcast broke new ground in student-produced broadcasting and set the stage for the 2007 event, in which eight broadcast students from Abu Dhabi, under the guidance of Matthews as producer, used an Echolab Opera production switcher to create the live content for web broadcast.

"The Opera helped eliminate many of the challenges faced during this type of production," stated Matthews. "When you have a million little details to worry about, it's a tremendous relief to know that your switcher is rock solid - almost like another member of the crew."

The Opera switcher, on loan for the event, integrated into the production easily, its internal conversion capability simplifying the mixing of analogue and digital material from different sources. The Middle East production crew easily integrated five of its cameras into the live production.

The prosumer three-chip cameras used for the event needed to be synced externally, and the Opera's internal processing allowed the crew to power up the switcher, plug in the cameras, and get to work immediately. With internal synchronisation and frame stores, the switcher also provided flexibility in capturing and assigning stills while reducing the volume of equipment needed for production and the time required for setup.

"The benefit of a project like this is that it not only helps young broadcasters in the Middle East refine their production skills, but also brings them closer to their counterparts in other countries," stated Matthews.

This is the first time students from the Middle East have produced a live television sports programme from the United States. Dr. Beverly Merrick, chairperson of the Mass Communications department at the UAE University, hailed this as a "significant step that could mark the beginning of a new era in broadcasting".

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