For more than a century, St. John's University has stood for athletic excellence and academic prowess. To capture its competitive spirit, St. John's Television Network (STJ-TV) has relied on the Canon XF305 and XF105 professional tapeless HD camcorders to capture the action of its sporting events for its athletics website (www.redstormsports.com), national and regional cable networks, and for Internet and mobile platforms.
"This has been great for our fan base and marketing efforts for all of our sports," says Mark Fratto, Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Communications at St. John's University. St. John's had been using Canon SD (standard definition) camcorders for years in its website, and had a hunch that a heightened HD experience would charge up its fans with hyper-precise, futuristic footage. Fratto and team now produce extremely high-quality coverage of its teams, for its own website and much larger commercial distribution outlets.
St. John's needed its production equipment to be affordable, spectacular in image quality and rugged enough to handle 100-plus different sports competitions a year. Since both students and professionals operate the cameras, intuition and ease were equally important. "We looked at professional teams that set the standard," Fratto says. "Those teams use a lot of Canon products. You can get great results for the cost and the size of Canon cameras and lenses, so it was an obvious decision for us."
Sean McCluskey, St. John's Director of Multimedia Services, took these specs and did his homework. "I found that they were both great choices," insists McCluskey. "Neither the Canon XF305 nor the XF105 are heavy or cumbersome. They're small, but not too small, and have HD lenses. Then there's the fact that the XF305 and XF105 have HD-SDI output, genlock input, and SMPTE time code in/out, which are very handy, since we're doing not only live game coverage but also studio productions such as the Red Storm Report for a regional cable network."
“We're elevating our coverage to the next level and producing high-quality live-action HD sports… not only for our own website but for much larger commercial distribution outlets.” —Mark Fratto, Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Communications at St. John's University
In addition to its five Canon HD camcorders (four Canon XF305s and one XF105), St. John's uses a NewTek TriCaster 850 Extreme production system, a NewTek 3Play 820 slow-motion replay system, and two Windows-based graphics computers. "We took every aspect of large HD-truck productions and shrank them, including the cameras," says Fratto. "Everything is completely portable, and all of our venues are within walking distance here on campus."
As a Big East member, all of St. John's conference basketball games are covered by national cable network video-production crews. The additional live-game coverage shot by the St. John's Television Network is delivered to the network for consideration, essentially revolutionizing college sports television.
"We're able to create a platform for women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, fencing, softball and baseball," says Fratto. "None of those games would ever make it to air in broadcast quality. With our Canon HD camcorders, we're able to put these productions together ourselves and reach much wider audiences." Considering the revenue involved with broadcast sponsorships, billboards and replays, Fratto believes they've developed a model every college and university could use.