NBC ups technology ante for Super Bowl telecast

Though NBC followed its usual “Sunday Night Football” broadcast formula for its recent Super Bowl telecast, the network did double the size of its broadcast infrastructure for the big game. The difference was the increased number of cameras used.

There were 35, to be exact, just to cover the game — mostly Sony HDC-900/950 cameras with Canon HD lenses. For the rest of the activities, including the pre-game and halftime shows, the total rose to about 55 cameras. There were also several “X-Mo” ultra-high frame-rate cameras from Inertia Unlimited for frame-by-frame analysis of the sidelines and goal lines, and an overhead Cable Cam. Robotic cameras were also placed on each goal post and in the hallway leading to each locker room.

After replacing the triax and rewiring the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, with 50mi of fiber-optic cable, the network also nearly doubled its on-site production crew to nearly 200 — a total that reached 400 when all NBC personnel in Tampa were counted.

The network used 14 mobile units (mostly from NEP Supershooters, based in Pittsburgh, PA), 14 office trailers, nine support trucks, three uplinks and five twin-unit 450kW power generators.

Other key gear included a Sony MVS-8000A switcher with internal DVE, Abekas HD Dveous, a Calrec Alpha audio board and a large tape room with multiple Sony HDCAM decks and EVS replay units. Avid nonlinear editing systems were used to produce packages for the pre-game show, and Apple Final Cut Pro units provided in-game editing.

Level 3 Communications’ Vyvx fiber and SES Americom satellite links provided backhaul feeds for NBC. Level 3 handled a total of 27 feeds of the Super Bowl out of Tampa, including one to NFL Films in New Jersey. Level 3 had 10 staffers in Tampa and more than 50 monitoring fees in its network operations center in Tulsa, OK.