CBS 'Supersizes' the Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS—For its exclusive coverage of Super Bowl XLVII, CBS Sports is offering an unprecedented, week-long, round-the-clock extravaganza, broadcasting across many platforms, including CBS, CBS Sports Network, Showtime Sports,, and CBS Sports Radio.

This week leading up to the Super Bowl—being held Sunday, Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans —15 different CBS shows from nine CBS divisions have programming devoted to every aspect of the nation’s largest sporting event. Shows like “The Talk,” “OMG! Insider,” “Face the Nation,” and the “CBS Evening News” will broadcast from CBS Super Bowl Park at Jackson Square in the heart of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter.

CBS Sports' "Heyeper Zoom"high frame-rate 4K replay and zoom camera system is comprised of the For-A FT-ONE 4K camera equipped with Fujinon lenses and the Evertz DreamCatcher record server. At a media event held at CBS Broadcast Center in New York last month, Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp. called the Super Bowl the “greatest broadcast day of the year,” and pledged that all of the assets and resources of the company would cover it like never before.

“The last two Super Bowls have both exceeded 111 million viewers for the game. Now it would take quite a lot of clicks on Facebook to equal that amount,” Moonves said. “And yes, we are sold out. We sold some of our spots for the game for over $4 million for a 30 second spot. And on Channel 2 in the New York local market, we have now sold some spots for over $1 million for a 30 second spot.”

Planning for the 47th annual Super Bowl began the day after Super Bowl XLVI, and the production logistics and technical complexity are breathtaking. According to Ken Aagaard, executive vice president of operations, engineering, and production services for CBS Sports, there will be 60 to 70 cameras—including 12 to 18 critical “bread and butter” cameras CBS Sports always relies on for NFL game coverage, as well as “icing” because, well, it’s the Super Bowl.

For slo-mo replays, Ikegami/NAC's Hi-Motion II cameras will be used to shoot 300 to 500 fps in 1080i HD. “We’re using an unprecedented array of technology. The point is, in the Super Bowl, you can’t miss the moment. It’s all about capturing the best shot of every play,” Aagaard said. “This year, we’ll be using an innovative native 4K camera replay system we’re calling ‘Heyeper Zoom,’ and given the right moment, we’re hoping we can show something that will be really special.”

With the ability to capture video at between 300 and 500 frames per second and 3840x2160 resolution (4xHD), Heyeper Zoom will give a pristine, high-resolution view of critical points of a play (foot inbounds, turnovers, fumbles, etc.). The six Heyeper Zoom cameras will encircle the football field along with six high-speed cameras to cover the action from every angle. Now, it’ll be possible to zoom into portions of the frame without motion blur or pixilation.

CBS Sports is deploying six Heyeper Zoom high frame-rate 4K replay and zoom camera systems. The solution is comprised of the For-A FT-ONE 4K camera equipped with Fujinon lenses and the Evertz DreamCatcher record server, which records native 4K imagery. “Camera operators will be instructed to frame shots as tightly as possible and follow closely to keep the player and ball in frame,” Aagaard said.

Fox 8 WVUE Offers Studio for Super Bowl NEW ORLEANS—For broadcasters that need remote production facilities to televise from New Orleans during Super Bowl XLVII, Fox 8 WVUE-TV is renting out its 5,800 square-foot HD production studio. The venue offers picture window views and exterior balcony access overlooking the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans Arena, and Champions Square.

“This is like the best live production truck you could take on the road, except that it’s a brand new studio and it’s already here. No one has to pull any cables and it’s got an adjacent production control room, audio room, and breathtaking views of the Superdome,” said Joe Cook, president and general manager for Fox 8, WVUE-TV. “I’d say we have the only such studio for a Super Bowl venue in the country.”

WVUE-TV studio offers picture window views and exterior balcony access overlooking the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans Arena, and Champions Square. Located on the second floor of Benson Tower next door to the Superdome, Fox 8 WVUE-TV is a Louisiana Media Company station owned by Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints NFL and Hornets NBA teams. While the station’s main facility is five minutes away, this new studio is used for live morning news and weekend sports shows on Fox 8.

On the 30 x 30 square-foot studio floor, there are three Ikegami HD studio cameras, with a Ross Vision 3-M/E production switcher, Vizrt Trio CG, and Wheatstone Dimension One digital audio console in the control room.Other studio amenities include: extensive HD fiber-optic access to multiple locations inside the Superdome, a 3.7-meter fixed satellite uplink antenna, 2-GHz HD microwave receive capabilities, use of an HD truck, and fixed exterior POV cameras for beauty shots.

“With more media organizations requesting NFL credentials than ever before, we’re confident that stations in different markets will need studio space here, especially if their local team makes it into the Super Bowl,” Cook said.

“We’re in a good spot at the right time, and we’re ready to help broadcasters that want to use this exciting setting and backdrop for their live Super Bowl coverage.”

Claudia Kienzle

In addition to Heyeper Zoom, an arsenal of conventional high-speed cameras will be used, including Ikegami/NAC’s Hi-Motion II cameras, which shoot 300 to 500 frames per second in 1080i HD. The 4K and high-speed cameras will be positioned on the stadium’s 300 level. CBS Sports will also use the Evertz Mosaic System, which enables up to six unique camera views to be played back simultaneously in-sync in either a quad-split, a three-way split, or a two-way split depending on the context of the play.

“We’ve been working very closely with our vendor/partners, including For-A, Evertz, NEC, and Fujinon, to realize the solutions needed for this year’s Super Bowl,” Aagaard said. Super Bowl XLVII will be the network’s 18th Super Bowl in its 53 years broadcasting NFL games.

Another important vendor/partner is NEP Inc. in Pittsburgh. Heyeper Zoom 4K will have its own truck, ST27, which is one of many video trucks NEP Inc. is sending to New Orleans for CBS Sports’ weeklong Super Bowl coverage.

The star truck in NEP’s armada is SS24, which is CBS Sports’ “A-level NFL truck” equipped with a Sony MVS-8000 production switcher, Calrec Alpha audio console, and Vizrt live graphics gear. NEP’s SS22, which will be used as a tape release truck, will house EVS servers, HDCAM decks, and more.

A new package of live 3D animated graphics and data-driven templates, designed by Reality Check Systems of Burbank, Calif., will be launched during the game telecast. And in addition to the regular first down line that was available on primary cameras throughout the 2012 NFL season, six other cameras will be calibrated with the first down line by Sports Media Technology.

“When you’re televising the most watched event of the year, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with that,” said Mike Werteen, senior vice president of sales and client services for NEP’s mobile unit division. “Reliability is paramount, so we need to stay on top of the technical requirements and deliver what CBS Sports expects.” The NEP crew totals 65 people, including truck engineers and engineering managers.

NEP’s fleet will also include Corplex Iridium, acquired from NCP in December 2012, which will be one of three trucks dedicated to Jackson Square. According to Aagaard, there will be four sets setup at Jackson Square for use by CBS live shows in the week leading up to the game, with a fifth set for CBS affiliates in Artillery Park.

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw scores the game-winning touchdown on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. To ensure that no moment of the game is missed, CBS will use its “sky-cam,” which glides over the field on a cable. Also, a fixed wing aircraft will fly over the stadium during the pre-game and post-game shows to capture aerial beauty shots. (Airspace over the stadium is closed during the game.) This aircraft will also fly over live CBS shows during Super Bowl week. And there will be a robotic camera situated on the roof of the nearby Hyatt Hotel overlooking Jackson Square that all CBS productions can use.

In an effort to deliver a flawless production, Aagaard indicated that crews would run cables to cameras and microphones wherever possible, rather than rely heavily on wireless RF transmission. This eliminates the risk of game picture or sound being lost due to unexpected interference.

“We’re setting the bar high for ourselves and others,” he said. “In the future, I can guarantee you we won’t be doing less. It doesn’t work that way.”

Claudia Kienzle