Record-setting remote strikes You've got 10 minutes or less to strike all your television equipment, and get it out of the way. Now this might be a piece of cake for an ENG crew, but for a full multicamera remote production van and crew with lights and all, it is a real challenge. Challenge or not, that's the way it is Monday nights, this season, before the Monday Night Football game.
The Home Shopping Network (HSN) got the idea of doing an hour show prior to each of the Monday Night Football (MNF) games from the stadium where the action is about to take place. Obviously it takes a bit of time to set up the cameras, mics, IFB and other paraphernalia necessary to do a complete show, but getting all that gear out of the way in a matter of minutes has to be something for the Guinness Book of World Records.
With plenty of "remote" outside broadcast (OB) experience, it didn't take long for the folks at PMTV and HSN to ink a multiyear deal with the NFL to broadcast the HSN pre-game show before every MNF game.
PMTV meets this kind of a challenge with a production truck, lighting truck and a satellite uplink truck for each of the broadcasts, where only a minimal amount of copper, coax and fiber need to be laid prior to each broadcast. The audio, two-way communications, including IFB and intercom, along with microphones, are all wireless, as are their "G-Cam" and blimp camera.
Spearheading this weekly project is PMTV's Kevin Tully. "The show airs every Monday night from 8 to 9 p.m. at the venue for Monday Night Football," Tully says. "We use three hard cameras and one handheld on the set, all on triax, plus one wireless `G-Cam'. The G-Cam is fired on 7GHz to a receiver and has full two-way communications," Tully explained, "for a total of five cameras, plus a camera in a blimp, which makes six." The five truck cameras, three "hard," one handheld and the one 7GHz G-Cam are all Ikegami HL-55s. The lens complement is three 55:1, one 14:1 and one wide angle.
All the video sources feed a GVG 300 switcher with 24 inputs and three M/E buses. In addition to the cameras, a Chyron iNFiNiT! with 230MB Bernoulli storage capability and three frame buffers, an Abekas two-channel A-53 DVE with warp and an Abekas two-channel A-42 still store feed the switcher. There are three Sony BVW 75 Beta SP VTRs and controllers for recording and playback, and to keep all this video in time, there are six frame synchronizers.
Tully said, "There are up to four high-power wireless microphones with high-power IFB for talent, plus eight wireless intercoms in use, with everything backed up on hard wire. However, we rely on the wireless." Other equipment provided by PMTV includes 16 wireless RF Sennheiser mics operating between 674- and 698MHz, and a PL system consisting of three systems that have a base and four packs each. These operate in the 457- to 494MHz frequency range. In addition, the audio man will have a pair of shotgun mics and a Digicart II with a Bernoulli storage capability.
Any video operator knows that lighting can make or break a show. PMTV doesn't leave this to chance either; they bring their own. Tully said: "We use six HMI Lights with ballast. Each is a balanced blue light that is 575W.
"It takes 30 people on the field to strike the show in the allotted time, which is between four to seven minutes," Tully said.
Home Shopping and PMTV leave nothing to chance. Not only do they have a Ku band uplink via PanAmSat to HSN, but there is also a backup fiber feed from the stadium to HSN.
The crew travels on Saturday, sets the show up and edits tape on Sunday. On Mondays they create the open and close, do the show and strike. Tuesdays are travel days for all, followed by a few days off, for the lucky, before they begin all over again on Saturday.