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NBC Resets With New Tech for Super Bowl XLIX

Fireworks go off as the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl XLVIII
at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Feb. 2, 2014.

PHOENIX—NBC will put its broadcast
sports prowess to the test on Feb.
1 when it takes on the task of covering
Super Bowl XLIX, and it will do so with a
new slate of production trucks, 4K cameras
and graphics technology designed to
showcase the sport’s biggest moment of
the year.
It all begins with numbers.
“Many of the challenges are the sheer
numbers that a Super Bowl brings,” said
Ken Goss, senior vice president of Remote
Operations for NBC Sports, who notes the
need for “hundreds of additional technical and production staff, building a small city of
TV trucks and office trailers, and running
fiber not only inside the stadium but from
various set locations thousands of feet away
from the main TV compound.”

Not to mention another usually little-discussed
but supremely important logistical
priority: the feeding and housing of more
than 400 talent, production staff, engineers,
scenic and lighting personnel over a two-week

The University of Phoenix Stadium will host Super Bowl XLIX, Feb. 1.

To pull off this year’s event, NBC will
bring in a compound of production vehicles,
including 18 mobile units and 11 office
trailers, and will take over several rooms inside
the University of Phoenix stadium to
build an Avid edit facility. That facility will
be used to create graphics and features that
will be aired during NBC’s six hours of pregame
programming as well as for programming
used during the game itself.
The network will handle both a six-hour
pregame show and the live event by
employing one of the newest production
trucks on the market, the ND1. The ND1
is NBC’s Sunday Night Football’s newest
mobile television unit, which consists
of four 53-foot double expanding trailers
and equipment that includes a Calrec
Apollo digital audio console, Evertz
EQX router, EVS XT3 media servers, and
a Grass Valley Kayenne K-Frame Elite
Switcher with 192x96 I/O capability and
a 9 M/E control panel.
According to NEP, the ND1 uses new
design tactics, construction techniques
and materials; the result is a truck that has
larger interior space but a smaller physical
footprint. NBC will also be taking advantage
of the ND1’s 100-percent fiber-optic
connectivity between truck and stadium;
make that 33 miles of cable, which is being
strung and connected inside the stadium.
“[ND1 is] perfectly matched to support
[our football coverage]… and continues
our legacy of working [with NEP] to push
broadcast technology forward,” Goss said.

On the field, NBC will employ 45 Sony
HDC-2500 cameras with a mix of Canon DigiSuper
lenses that include lenses in the
100x, 95x, 86x and 22x range. The network
will rely on a number of specialty cameras
as well, including two Sony HDC-3300 HD
Super Motion cameras, four Grass Valley

NBC Sports will deploy two Sony HDC-3300 HD Super Motion cameras on the field.

LDX-86 XtremeSpeed cameras with Canon
86x9.5 lenses, and five I-Movix 4K cameras
with Fuji Cinematic 85x300mm lenses,
which are designed for very high-frame
rate ultra-slow motion sports coverage up
to 120fps at 4Kp60. The network will also
use a Steadicam and cablecam to round out
coverage. Although the network does plan
to utilize 4K ultra HD technology down-converted
to 1080i, it will not be offering
an overall 4K broadcast.

There’s a number of benefits, both aesthetic
and technical, in capturing the game
in 4K, Goss said.
“There can be a huge advantage having
4K cameras capture and record the
action,” he said. “Inevitably there are plays
that need a closer look to determine if a
receiver catches a ball in bounds, or if a
player crosses the goal line, and a few other
instances that require a tight shot of the
play. The 4K cameras can capture this with
extreme clarity. That has been an issue with
conventional HD cameras.”

Playback will be handled by 19 EVS XT3
playout and replay servers, as well as two EVS
Spot Boxes. Spot Box runs on the EVS XT servers
to allow control by third-party switcher
and automation systems as well as enable import
and playback from various graphics and
NLE systems and external drives.
NBC will also be deploying—the first
time for the network—several DreamCatcher
production and instant replay systems
from Evertz that include a customizable interface
and an IP-based replay feature that
serves NBC as a technical storytelling tool.

NBC will handle both a six-hour pregame show and the live event by employing one of the newest
production trucks on the market, NEP’s ND1.

“The DreamCatcher systems [will be] recording
the output of the 4K cameras and
can zoom into the action quickly for instant
replays,” Goss said. In addition to the recent
introduction of new Grass Valley LDX cameras,
the network will also use Ross Video
production technology for displaying virtual
graphics from the goal post cameras.

The network will mic the field with more
than 100 microphones, including Sony ECM-77 and ECM-66 lavalier mics, Sennheiser
cardioid ME 64 mics, Sennheiser 416P short
shotgun tube mics, Sennheiser MD46 reporter
mics, and Audio Technica BP-4025
field mics and 4029 stereo shotgun mics.
Graphics will be overseen by NBC Coordinating
Producer Fred Gaudelli, who will
employ the ChyronHego Mosaics graphics
platform as well as a number of new solutions,
including the company’s new “Virtual
1st” 1st & 10 football graphics technology
that’s being employed in concert with
SportsMEDIA and N-Cam real-camera tracking
The network’s pregame show is as much
an event as the game itself, and NBC will
pull in 26 Sony HDC-2500 cameras with
Canon lenses, three jib cameras including
one 24-foot jib, and two 9-foot jibs and four
Steadicams. For playback, the network will
be using a number of EVS XT2 and XT3
6-channel ingest and replay servers.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.