Fox Keeps Its Winning Super Bowl Game Plan
Network adding slo-mo cameras and pregame coverage, but production to change little from ‘08
By George Winslow -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/31/2011 12:01:00 AM
“It is really the mother of all stadiums,” says Jerry Steinberg, senior VP of field operations at Fox Sports. “There is a lot of infrastructure, but the important thing is the people [working at the stadium], which really makes your life a lot easier.”
From a technology standpoint, the centerpiece of the arena is a 72-foot high, 160- foot wide high-definition LCD video board hanging over the playing field, the world’s largest HD screen. Built by Mitsubishi Electric at a cost of $35 million, “it actually cost more than what the old Texas Stadium cost to build,” says Dwin Towell, director of broadcast engineering services for the Dallas Cowboys.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the Cowboys will have nine of their own cameras covering the action on the field and around the stadium. Harris Nexio servers will feed material from the Cowboys and Fox cameras onto the giant screen and the other 2,000 HD monitors in the building.
“The Harris servers have been very solid, stable devices and we’ve been very pleased with the results,” Towell says.
Other key vendors for the production, which will use Cowboys Stadium’s three control rooms, include Sony switchers, Evertz routers, Yamaha boards for audio and a Cisco StadiumVision system for IPTV distribution of signals to the HD monitors. —GW
“What we did in Arizona in 2008 was probably the leanest, most efficient Super Bowl that anyone had done,” says Jerry Steinberg, senior VP of field operations at Fox Sports. “And it wasn’t lean because we didn’t want to spend money. It was lean because the simplest solutions are the most elegant solutions. We didn’t want to overengineer it and bog it down with a lot of stuff you don’t need. So a year ago, when we began preparing for this, we’ve kept what we did in Glendale in our sights, and we’ll bring that template to Dallas.”
“In many ways it is very similar to what we did last time,” adds Jason Taubman, VP of design and new technology at video production company Game Creek and project manager for all of its operations at the game. “We’ll be using the same FX [mobile] units, with the same group of people, more or less.”
For Fox’s pregame shows, Game Creek is supplying the Patriot A and B units and the Liberty A and B units. The Patriot units will handle redcarpet coverage outside the stadium; the Liberty units will deal with pregame coverage inside.
Coverage of the game itself will be handled by the FX units, a four-truck entourage built to Fox’s specifications by Game Creek for NFL and NASCAR coverage. The FX units come equipped with a Kayenne switcher from Grass Valley, a large Calrec Blufi n Alpha audio console, fiber interconnects to the other trucks and 17 EVS units, Taubman says. The FX trucks will be handling 42 cameras during the game, with 38 from Sony, Taubman adds.
Slow-motion cameras that will be used include the Sony HDC-3300 Super Motion Color Camera and X-mo camera systems from Inertia Unlimited. An additional 12 cameras will be used for the pregame coverage. Canon is supplying most lenses. For graphics, Fox will use Vizrt.
Preparation for this year’s production began soon after last February’s Super Bowl telecast on CBS wrapped in Miami, and continued throughout the regular NFL season. “We start building for the Super Bowl on the very first game of the regular season,” Taubman explains. “We don’t do the reconfiguration at the end. It is more of a slow crescendo. As the season goes on, we start slotting more equipment into the infrastructure. So it isn’t a big upheaval in the last few days. They are basically working from the same facility they’ve used all season.”
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