Equipment vendors score for HD Super Bowl telecast

By all accounts, this year’s Giant Super Bowl XLII win was one of the best ever, in terms of audience ratings, on-site attendance and the pristine quality of the live high-definition telecast. Most of that credit goes to mobile production company Game Creek, based in Hudson, NH, which had a total of six HD production trucks and 25 HD cameras on-site in Glendale, and another three trucks and numerous cameras in Scottsdale, AZ. Both domestic and (for the first time) international audiences could hear the game in true 5.1 surround sound as well.

Another production company, NEP Supershooters (based in Pittsburgh, PA), had its own HD “Denali” truck at the Super Bowl, complete with Sony BVP900 and 950 HD cameras, a Thomson Grass Valley Kalypso 4 M/E HD switcher, Accom Dual Twin DVEous effects, Grass Valley servers and a Calrec Q2 audio console to produce the live half-time show and feed large video screens inside the stadium. This feed was also sent to the Game Creek trucks for inclusion in the Fox broadcast.

All of the 53-foot production trucks, many interconnected via miles of fiber and coaxial cabling, included Thomson Grass Valley HD production switchers, Sony HD cameras, Sony HD SloMo camera systems, Canon HD lenses, Vinten camera pedestals and Miller tripods, Chyron graphics systems, EVS servers, QuStream video routers, NVISION audio routers, Calrec audio consoles, and RTS intercom an communications systems.

Game Creek Video's fleet of all-digital 53ft HD expando production vehicles includes the Freedom, Patriot, Yankee Clipper and Intrepid HD trucks, plus the multi-truck FX HD Production System built primarily for Fox Sports. Two existing standard-definition trucks, Eagle HD and Northstar, were completely rebuilt as HD trucks in 2007.

At the game, Game Creek’s FX HD helped produce the game in both SD and HD, while its Patriot truck handled the pre/half/post-game studio show. Four Sony HDC-3300 3x Super SloMo camera systems were used during the game, two in the end zones and two free roaming. The company’s Northstar and Yankee Clipper trucks, complete with a Grass Valley 4 M/E Kalypso switcher in each unit, provided studio coverage for ESPN’s weeklong telecasts. The Patriot truck also has a Thomson Grass Valley 4 M/E HD Kalypso.

Game Creek’s FX Production System is a four-truck unit with two 53ft expando trucks and two 53ft straight side trucks. It includes 17 Sony HDC 1500 cameras, 10 EVS XT2 servers, a Grass Valley Kalypso 4 M/E HD video production switcher, two Calrec Alpha Bluefin and Sigma audio consoles, and one of the largest routing infrastructures ever deployed in a mobile television production truck. The routing infrastructure features a 512 x 1024 Cheetah HD video router, and a 2048 x 2048 Cheetah DRS mixed format audio router deployed across four trucks and interconnected with single-mode fiber. FX is also equipped with a Grass Valley Kayak switcher (used as a sub-switcher for HD replays), and Fortel UDC-550 up/down/crossconverters, FS-511 analog-to-digital frame syncs and DAS-441A audio delays.

Game Creek recently launched Northstar HD, a completely new design, which incorporates a 288x576 Cheetah XR HD video router, and a 1024x1024 Cheetah DRS mixed format audio router. Northstar HD also makes use of 30 QuStream UDC-550 up/down/crossconverters, along with FS-514CC analog to digital frame syncs and DAS-441A audio delays.

Game Creek’s Freedom, Yankee Clipper, Patriot and Intrepid each have onboard equipment interconnected via a QuStream 128 x 128 HD broadband router with 64 monitoring downconverters plus a Cheetah 256 x 256 analog video router. Each vehicle also has 15 QuStream frame synchronizers and four DAS-441A audio delays.

Also participating at the big game in Phoenix was Game Creek Video’s Eagle HD, which was converted from SD to HD in summer 2007. Its 53ft expando design incorporates large production and tape rooms, Sony HDC 1500 cameras, a Calrec Omega audio console and QuStream routing.

For international audiences, the Super Bowl was broadcast in 5.1 surround sound for the first time ever. Neural Audio Corp. and THX Ltd. helped 57 international broadcasters to deliver Super Bowl XLII in the Neural-THX Surround format to 223 countries and territories in 30 languages.

Neural-THX Surround enables broadcasters to create and deliver true, multichannel surround sound experiences using minimal bandwidth over stereo channels. For the Super Bowl, the technology allowed the NFL’s on-site broadcast teams produce the game in 5.1 surround sound then transmit the sound mix in a stereo format to audiences around the globe. (Neural-THX Surround professional broadcast products are distributed exclusively by Harris.) Television viewers could decode the 5.1 mix using any AV receiver featuring Neural-THX Surround.

For the week leading up to the big game, the NFL Network featured more than 100 broadcasting hours from Arizona, such as news, features and interviews. On-site, they used an NVISION NV5128-MC multichannel master control switcher, NV915 router control and NV9640 control panel. The equipment was set up quickly and performed flawlessly, according to Jeff Howard, senior executive engineering and broadcast technologies, at NFL Network.

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