“Disc golf is one of those sports that has been growing tremendously over the last several years, with 25% more people attending events and tuning in online year after year. But it hasn’t quite hit mainstream yet, so we’re using social media and live streaming to bring this awesome sport to our fans.” - Jon Van Deurzen, SmashBoxx TV.
Since 2010, Jon Van Deurzen has been live streaming disc golf as a passion project of his, doing his best to contribute to the rising popularity of the rather new sport that resembles both ultimate frisbee and golf. Based in Milwaukee, WI, him and his company, SmashBoxx TV, handle all of the league’s tournament broadcasts, and provide everything from cameras to commentary to live editing.
On the Course
“Our goal is to be able to stream footage that makes disc golf as exciting as a PGA tour, but without the massive budget that they have. They can easily afford broadcast trucks and several cameras, but as a niche sport, our small budgets force us to find solutions that can get as close to a TV broadcast as possible.”
But live streaming a sport like disc golf isn’t exactly straightforward. Courses are outdoors and stretch as wide as golf courses, oftentimes through trees and thick brush (terrain unique to disc golf). Because the players progress through the course, there’s no way to set up a village for production. Cameras have to be wireless and roaming.
The Smashboxx setup:
- 2x Canon XF100
- 4x Teradek Bond
- 4x Verizon 4G LTE USB modem
- 1x Teradek Core account
- 1x vMix
The key to their broadcast is through the Teradek Bond. The Bond is a 4G LTE cellular bonding device that combines multiple Internet connections into a single, robust connection for video streaming. It works by sending IP video to Core, the Teradek cloud-based platform, where it can be redistributed to any online destination, decoder or pulled down via TCP.
Their camera team films from two angles: one at the tee and one at the goal. Both cameras have Bonds equipped with 2x Verizon 4G LTE modems, which stream video directly to Jon’s Core account. The multiple 4G modems give the encoder network redundancy, ensuring the stream stays smooth during the entire broadcast.
From his home in Milwaukee, Jon uses Core to pull down the stream via Teradek Stream Reader into his vMix software switcher on PC. Through vMix, Jon adds graphics, switches between the cameras and publishes the stream to Restream.io.
A Perfect Bonded Solution
“We want to help this professional sport grow into something major, and live streaming has given us and other fans of disc golf the chance to find each other and celebrate it together. The fact that our streams have been getting 15-30k views per day of broadcast shows that there’s an interest out there for niche sports, and we want to make sure that number grows higher every year. The Teradeks are critical to that.”
“One of the most important things for us is being able to manage the stream remotely. We don’t have the infrastructure that mainstream sports broadcasts have, but by going to the cloud, we can pull down the stream from anywhere and add all of the graphics remotely. I’m at my workstation at home instructing my team on where to position, and editing the live footage as it comes in.”
For outdoor sports like disc golf where distance is a major factor, 4G bonding offers an affordable way to bring the action to viewers from anywhere on the course. With Bond, the camera guys are able to move freely around the action while capturing every bit of the plays and breaks. In addition, with Core, Jon is able to monitor and control every parameter of their streams (resolution, bitrate, destination) all from his work station at home.
But most importantly, the main part of Jon’s workflow is the Bond’s redundancy. By using multiple modems per Bond unit, the production team can continue operating even if one modem loses signal. In the event of a dropped connection on one modem, Bond’s automatic failover allows the secondary modems to fill in, keeping the broadcast smooth and seamless.
This helps Jon provide his clients and fellow supporters of the sport the high-quality coverage and recognition that it deserves.
“Everything we do is to make sure our content is top-notch while being strategic with time and cost. The Bonds and Core allow us to go live straight from the roaming cameras, and make it so easy that I could control the entire operation from my home hundreds or thousands of miles away. They go with us into any environment and any location, and allow us to create something worthy of a professional sport.”
Learn more about disc golf here, and more about SmashBoxx’s work here.