When FOX Sports needed engineering and broadcast solutions for the days of live coverage leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII and the network’s pre-game coverage, they called on a number of Vitec Group brands, including Litepanels , and Bexel , – a worldwide provider of broadcasting services with a history of supporting the world's largest live sporting events – to help.
Also part of the network’s game plan were Autoscript teleprompters , and a mix of Vinten , and Sachtler camera supports using Anton/Bauer batteries and chargers.
We took a look at how the Vitec group supported the production, seen by 111.5 million people.
“At FOX Sports we’re focused on efficiency and have used Litepanels 1×1 panels and Sola 6 fixtures in our production booth and field studios for four years,” said Mike Davies Vice President of Field and Technical Operations for FOX Sports.
“We like that they don’t run hot and don’t require much power. On this Super Bowl production, we had them in great abundance in New York’s Times Square and at MetLife Stadium for programming leading up to kickoff. We also used them during the game on our portable Super Bowl set on the field, which was vital for operating such a large OB unit.”
“The Bexel team supplied much of the glue for this production, including fibre-optic cabling to handle all of the short-haul, high-definition video runs,” said Davies “Each time we’ve worked with Bexel we always find them to be very knowledgeable and prepared for whatever we throw at them."
Bexel brought a team of 20 engineers and technicians to link a new street-level studio in Times Square (part of NYC’s 'Super Bowl Boulevard') to a file-based edit facility inside Manhattan’s Millennium Hotel, and to a similar studio set and edit facility inside MetLife Stadium, in New Jersey (where the game took place).
This included two 72-strand runs in Times Square connecting the street set with the edit facility at the nearby Millennium Hotel and the facilities in MetLife Stadium, a few miles away. There were also several thousand feet of fibre at the Stadium linking various production pieces together. Bexel also provided conversion boxes and signal distribution technology to move signals from one place to the other.
On this Super Bowl production, we had Litepanels 1×1 panels and Sola 6 fixtures in great abundance in New York’s Times Square and at MetLife Stadium for programming leading up to kickoff
“The challenge was providing enough capacity to move those HD signals back and forth,” Davies notes, “and doing it redundantly to ensure reliability. Bexel helped out a great deal in planning and implementing that infrastructure and figuring out the logistics of making it all work, including what equipment we’d need to do what we needed to accomplish.”
Of course, keeping track of all those fibre feeds was another major challenge, but Bexel solved it by setting up a 32-channel IPTV system, which allowed FOX Sports personnel to monitor the various incoming and outgoing program feeds between locations. In fact, the Millennium Hotel and MetLife stadium had identical 16-channel units set up, and both worked seamlessly together.
For all the teleprompter needs, Autoscript was at the studio positions at MetLife and Times Square. Designed with purpose, the Autoscript prompting software allowed for essential updates during the game.
Seven hundred and fifty heads and Quattro pedestals, provided by Game Creek, were at each site, smoothly capturing the game action and reports from the studio.
Sachtler and Anton/Bauer
Sachtler systems, using Anton/Bauer batteries, were used by mobile crews to capture viewers’ opinions out in Times Square. Sachtler gear allowed the crew to set up and capture the moments quickly, while providing a sturdy foundation. Anton/Bauer’s RealTime display provided reliable mobile power, helping operators monitor the batteries’ charges, so they didn’t have to worry about stopping in the middle of a crucial take to swap out the battery.