The NFL Super Bowl XLII will be played Sunday in Phoenix, Arizona and this year the newest innovation will be on the smaller screens as the networks and even the teams themselves look to maximise the opportunities provided by streaming media, writes Ken Kerschbaumer.
FoxSports.com, ESPN Radio, and even video music channel VH1 are all turning to Newtek's Tricaster studio to deliver video streams online for less than EUR8000. Beginning on 29 January, FoxSports.com will stream a daily Super Bowl XLII pre-game show and production will continue right up to the official pre-game show on the Fox TV Network hours before kick-off.
"We have our own equipment, including HD cameras even though we aren't streaming in HD," says Ed Bunnell, Fox Sports interactive VP of programming. "The better quality image you start with the better off the final product will be."
The Newtek Tricaster has become a staple at big-time Fox Sports events. The system includes multiple camera inputs, a hard drive for recording incoming feeds (live streams can be passed out directly to the internet), a small switcher, graphics capabilities, and a small screen for watching the sources for mixing.
The network began using it this past summer at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July for streaming batting practice in the afternoon. It was also used at the college football national championship game, operating out of the production room in an equipment trailer.
"We did our due diligence and the Tricaster was the right solution to pull off a show like this," says Bunnell. "It's a pretty compact piece of machinery that has lots of inputs and is basically a production truck in a box. As long as we have a beefy internet pipe we can stream from anywhere."
While Fox Sports relies on Tricaster the NFL Network is using NVision gear for a dual production that will be delivered to the TV network and also the NFL.com website.
The NFL Network is using a NV5128-MC Multi-channel Master Control, a NV 915 Router Control, and NV9640 Router Control Panel that offers up to 30 re-legendable LCD buttons.
"The NVision controller creates a much smoother process of streaming," says Gary L Reed, NFL Films chief engineer. NFL Network and NFL.com will broadcast every press conference and will provide 100 hours of news and interviews prior to the game as part of NFL Total Access. All video will be edited using Apple's Final Cut Pro.
Meanwhile the teams themselves are also getting in on the action. Don Sperling, New York Giants Entertainment VP and executive producer, and his crew will take Apple and Avid editing systems and a variety of Sony cameras to Phoenix.
The Giants.com team will set up a headquarters at the team hotel based around a couple of Apple Final Cut Pro systems and an Avid editing system that runs on an Apple G5. Laptops outfitted with Apple Final Cut Pro will also be available to help the crews edit in the field, something that will be paramount during a week when fans will be demanding quick access to fresh material.