CBS' New Game Plan for Super Bowl Sunday

4K cameras, enhanced graphics and on-location extras are planned to amp up coverage

Sports Seconds That Game Day Emotion

Replays in Ultra HD

Super Bowl productions always attempt to offer a fine balance between
wowing the viewer with the best possible visuals while delivering a perfectly
produced game with tried-and-true technologies. In other words: a solid
game plan with a few trick plays thrown in.

Viewers will see both of these at work during CBS Sports’ production of Super
Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, which will feature some breakthroughs in live sports production
while relying on a seasoned production crew and many of the same HD
technologies it used in the 2010 game.

“This production will be a nice hybrid,” says George Hoover, CTO of NEP Broadcasting,
which is providing the game truck and several other mobile units for CBS
Sports in New Orleans. “[During] the game, guys like to stick with the tried and
true, but Ken [Aagaard, executive VP of engineering, operations and production
services, CBS Sports] likes to use big events like the Super Bowl to introduce some
new technologies” to better cover the game.

The biggest breakthrough this year will be the use of six 4K, or Ultra HD, cameras
in a new replay system. It will allow producers to zoom in on images and provide
viewers with a much clearer view of whether a player stayed inbounds or an official
made the right call (See “Supersizing Replays in Ultra HD,”).

“We don’t see 4K as a gimmick,” Aagaard says. “This is real technology that can
significantly enhance the broadcast on key plays in an event like the Super Bowl,
where you are going to bring on everything you can to make it work.”

Other notable tech developments include the launch of an entirely new
animation and inserts package during the Super Bowl. The Evertz Mosaic
System will allow viewers to see multiple synced-up replays at the
same time and some firsts in its online stream of the game. (For more
on Super Bowl streaming
, see “CBS Sports Seconds That Game Day

From Aagaard’s perspective, however, “the biggest difference is
all the programming we are doing the week prior to the Super
Bowl,” he says. “We are basically taking over Jackson Square [in
New Orleans], where we have built five sets, and we are producing
programming from all the different entities that CBS has at the Super
Bowl: The Talk, CBS This Morning and CBS Sports Network. It is very
ambitious and is a significant difference from last time
around.” (For more, see Programming Strategy.)

For all that coverage, CBS is using a number of
truck vendors, including NEP, F&F, All Mobile Video,
Bexel, Game Creek Video, BSI Production, PACSAT
and Encompass, notes John McCrae, executive director, field operations at CBS Sports.

Many other trucks will also be in the city that week to
support ESPN, Fox Sports, the NFL Network, DirecTV,
broadcast stations, international broadcasters and
news organizations. “If you don’t have one of your
trucks in New Orleans that week, there is something
wrong with [you],” Aagaard quips.

For the game, the center of the action will be NEP’s
Supershooters SS24 truck. It was CBS’ game-day truck
during the 2012 NFL season and was used by CBS in
2010 during its last Super Bowl production.

“With the addition of some cameras and more replay
devices, it is pretty much con! gured the same
way as the week-in and week-out game coverage,”
NEP’s Hoover says.

The SS24, which has 53-foot double-expando trailers,
is one of NEP’s largest mobile units and has one
of the largest control rooms available in the industry.
It is equipped with a Sony MVS-8000 switcher, Calrec
Alpha audio console, Grass Valley routing and Sony
VTRs. Avid will supply Pro Tools, Unity and other
products for editing and managing files.

The production will use graphics systems from
Vizrt. The new animation package is being produced
as a joint partnership between Click 3X and Big Studios,
notes Marla Schmettau, director of graphics at
CBS Sports.

EVS is supplying a variety of servers and producers
for the replays.

“Evertz is doing the 4K replays, but the regular
bread-and-butter broadcast replay and network is
all EVS,” Aagaard says. “It is the backbone of what
we do. The beauty of the system is that everything talks to each other and it works
across all the trucks, from the pre-game to the game and even the half-time trucks.
It is all networked together in a way that everyone can find what they need.”

Overall about 60 cameras, including six 4K cameras, will be used to cover the
game, Aagaard notes. Sony is supplying the bulk of the HD cameras, including the
HDC-1500s. Canon lenses will be used on the HD cameras while the For-A 4K
cameras are equipped with Fujinon lenses. Fletcher will supply five Ikegami/NAC
Hi-Motion II cameras capable of shooting 300 to 500 frames per second in 1080i HD.

Several companies are working on the sets at locations around the city and in the
Superdome, including Jack Morton, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Showman and a local
company, the Solomon Group, which Aagaard singled out for particular praise. “They
have been really a lifesaver in getting everything done in New Orleans,” he says.

Aagaard adds that New Orleans is a “perfect place for an event like the Super Bowl,
where you can walk to everything” and he complimented the city on being so responsive
to CBS Sports’ needs. “New Orleans is really in a rebuild mode and has this
can-do attitude that is very infectious and exciting to work with,” he says.

But having everything so centrally located also creates “traffic and logistic problems
that the NFL and the city have been working on for years,” he says. “We have
to move talent from Jackson Square to the Dome on Super Bowl Sunday. But I
know they will make it work.”

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