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Producing the Super Bowl

NBC Sports broadcast the Super Bowl over the weekend using facilities from NEP Broadcasting and Game Creek Video. Game Creek also worked with ESPN on a variety of related shows leading up to the event.

NBC Sports broadcast the Super Bowl over the weekend using facilities from NEP Broadcasting and Game Creek Video. Game Creek also worked with ESPN on a variety of related shows leading up to the event, writes David Fox.

NEP Supershooters (part of NEP Broadcasting) had a total of ten trucks on-site in Indianapolis. Its ND3, ND4, and SS24 (16.5m) rigs covered the main game telecast, while another six trucks helped produce a variety of game-related programming on location. Many of these trucks feature Grass Valley HD production gear (cameras, video production switchers, routers and signal conversion modules) in a variety of configurations.

NEP’s SS24 HD mobile production truck, one of the largest in the US and is comprised of two 16.5m double expanding trailers combined, has a Grass Valley Kalypso switcher, as well as Trinix NXT and Concerto Series routing switchers. The company’s SS25 truck was used for the NFL’s World Feed and carries a Kalypso, more than one dozen Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite WorldCam HD cameras, as well as Trinix and Concerto routers.

NEP’s California truck helped broadcast the live halftime show featuring Madonna, while its Summit truck covered the NFL Hall of Fame event. The ND4, California, and Summit vehicles all include a Kalypso switcher on board.

“With the entire world watching, it’s critical that our productions look the best they can,” said George Hoover, Chief Technology Officer at NEP Broadcasting. “For our money, that means using Grass Valley equipment where it’s appropriate. We are a long-time fan of their production switchers and cameras and continue to use them whenever our clients need uncompromising quality and flexibility.”

Game Creek Video had several of its production trucks on hand for ESPN and NBC. Its Freedom truck uses a Kalypso switcher with dual external HD GVeous effects units, and handled various ESPN studio shows during the week, while its Northstar truck, with a Kayenne switcher, covered ESPN Sports Center live coverage from Pan Am Plaza, while the Larkspur unit, also with a Kayenne, broadcast for ESPN from the stadium. For NBC, Game Creek’s Victory truck, complete with Kayenne, was used to produce the Live Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show on location in Indianapolis.

“Live sports production is a main focus of our company and we’ve supported high-profile productions like the Super Bowl for many years, because quality and reliability matters most,” said Jeff Rosica, Executive Vice President of Grass Valley. “Customers like Game Creek and NEP Broadcasting are at the top of their game and demand the absolute best that current technology has to offer.”

10x Slow Motion

On the field, there were four NAC Hi-Motion II Ultra Slow Motion HD cameras, provided by Fletcher Camera & Lenses, Chicago, to capture the action as the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots. Fletcher said it had invested $3.5 million in the new cameras because of their advanced features, including improved image quality, simpler integration with production trucks and ease of use.

“We have had technical rehearsals every day since Tuesday and the response to the Hi-Motion II is overwhelmingly positive,” said NAC’s Andy Hayford, before the game. “Everyone from Engineering, VT and Production is ‘over the moon’ that the camera works straight out of the box and integrates like a normal camera – and the live and replay pictures are stunning.”

The Hi-Motion II uses a unique three chip CMOS sensor capable of capturing more than 10x high speed images in full HD and providing simultaneous output of both live realtime video AND ultra slow motion replay video.

Online action

The Super Bowl gets the biggest audiences for any programme in the US, and it extended its reach this year by being available online for the first time, streaming in HD using a technology called Smooth Streaming, part of Microsoft Silverlight.

Features of NBC’s Super Bowl Extra included online-only camera angles, in-game highlights, exclusive sideling reports, in-game chat, in-game tweets from Jimmy Fallon, and on-demand Super Bowl commercials – the Super Bowl being a time that advertisers make a special effort to show commercials that are particularly funny or visually sophisticated, to match the huge cost of airtime around the game (up to $4million for a 30-second slot), leading to the best commercials going viral.