What Goes Into a BBN Broadcast?

Noah Bishop, Staff Writer

As an introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the Bruin Broadcast Network, BBN is a student-run broadcasting club started a few years ago at Catholic High School that produces videos, streams, and general broadcasts for a significant amount of Catholic High School events. 

I believe that a lot of people, especially students, don’t understand the work that is put into the Bruin Broadcast Network, but I think that those assumptions mainly lie in the fact that most students and teachers don’t even understand how most modern technology actually works. It’s easy to use a phone, but it’s not so easy to understand how the phone works. Coming from the outside looking in, it may seem like an ordinary operation where we just click a few buttons and stare at a computer screen, but that is simply a veil covering a much more complex machine. The brains behind the broadcast are not just active during the stream; students work multiple days a week after school to coordinate ideas, extensively plan, upload graphics, adjust hotkeys, and work on the studio trailer to ensure proper preparations are met for the next game. Students research the equipment we need for the broadcast with almost no moderator involvement. We manually create forms of electrical transmission like homemade RG6 SDI camera cables, ethernet cables of varying categories, computers, and wireless parabolic microphones to name a few. 

I believe that BBN is the most influential extracurricular club at Catholic High School. And I can say that because I am the president of both BBN and Esports, two of the largest clubs at the school and I have experience being in multiple other clubs.

On football Fridays, BBN officers are checked out early to prepare for the start of the game at 7:00 pm. We immediately unpack the trailer, and once unpacked, we have a few different groups assigned for different setup roles. Mainly, there is the group of people who work on the studio trailer, these guys are responsible for getting reliable power to the trailer, booting up all of the trailer devices, configuring graphics for the upcoming game, setting up the network through a program called Speedify – which combines internet signals – ensuring our broadcasting program is updated with new advertisements and adjusted hotkey configurations, setting up the soundboard, and finally, plugging all of the transmission cables from the rest of the groups into the corresponding trailer ports. All of this allows the audience to view the camera shots, video graphics, and commercials. It is extremely important that the studio trailer group is familiar with technology and the limitations thereof and to be avid troubleshooters in case something were to go wrong, especially during the stream.

Secondly, there is the group for the booth setup, more commonly deemed the press box setup. This group is responsible for setting up the relay soundboard, commentator headsets, the broadcast relay monitor, the wireless microphones, and the green screen along with the green screen lights. It wouldn’t be much of a broadcast without our commentators and sound.

Thirdly, there is the group for the roof, or camera setup. This group is responsible for setting up cameras, in some cases wireless cameras, running SDI cords down to the trailer, and setting up the stagebox – a soundboard passthrough device utilized for camera personnel headset playback, a direct communication line between the trailer and the cameras. This is objectively the most essential part of the broadcast. Cameras are the foundation for operative conditions at BBN.

Lastly, there is a group for the endzone, endzone signs, and wireless microphones. This group is responsible for setting up the endzone camera. The endzone camera is completely independent of the BBN stream and is used purely for football. They are also responsible for setting up the endzone sponsorship signs and finally setting up the wireless microphones for the broadcast. This group is important for CHS Football and for getting wireless audio for half-time interviews which we collect with a wireless transmission (tx/rx) system.

During the game, it is altogether a different story, we always seem to encounter problems that are out of our control, like insufficient internet speeds for broadcasting or a problem on WBRZ’s end. However, with all of that being said, I am confident that BBN will continue to progress, especially once my colleagues and I have the trailer and everything fully configured and functional for plug-and-play compatibility. The idea is that you bring the trailer somewhere, plug a few cameras in along with the soundboard, and you would be completely functional for any event. It is automation and efficiency that we strive for; it allows us to focus on the quality of our stream rather than the functionality; it would give us more time to improve and collaborate during BBN events to advance the Catholic High School and BBN mission, but most importantly, it prepares BBN for the future, ensuring that even if an unknowledgeable student becomes president of the club, they will still be able to run the stream with information left behind by their predecessors.

I am Noah Bishop, the 2020-21 President of the Bruin Broadcast Network and Esports at Catholic High School and I think that BBN provides students the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of broadcasting, including video editing, networking, graphics-editing, videography, and most importantly, hard work. So click that power button on your remote and tune in live on Cox and Uverse at channel 19(SD) or 1019(HD), Eatel 144, our Roku and FireTV app (Catholic High School), or on our site at www.bbn.live and view our next football game, maybe you’ll be surprised with what Bruin Broadcast Network members are capable of achieving.