Anton/Bauer, Litepanels help to deliver pre-Super Bowl coverage for FOX
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 recently, the company elected to call in Bexel. Also part of the network’s game plan were Autoscript teleprompters, Litepanels LED fixtures, and a mix of Vinten and Sachtler camera supports using Anton/Bauer batteries and chargers.
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). Both FOX Sports studios were also outfitted with Litepanels 1×1 and Sola series LED fixtures, and Autoscript and Vinten.
This year’s production, seen by 111.5 million people, leveraged a special and highly portable fiber-optic cabling infrastructure, provided by Bexel. 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 was also several thousand feet of fiber 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.
“The Bexel team supplied much of the glue for this production, including fiber-optic cabling to handle all of the short-haul, high-definition video runs between the Times Square studio, our editing facility a few blocks away in a hotel, and between NYC and MetLife Stadium,” said Mike Davies, vice-president of Field and Technical Operations for FOX Sports. “Each time we’ve worked with Bexel we always find them to be very knowledgeable and prepared for whatever we throw at them. We’ve really come to rely on their expertise to do the things we need to create programming viewers want to watch.
“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.”
Keeping track of all those fiber 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 programme feeds between locations. In fact, the Millennium Hotel and MetLife stadium had identical 16-channel units set up, and both worked seamlessly together without a glitch.
Bexel also worked with a third-party post-production company called Thumbwar, based in California, to set up a fully working edit workflow—complete with content stored on a 48 TB SAN—for production of graphics and video packages. Inside a seventh floor suite at the Millennium, Bexel staff worked with Thumbwar to network eight Apple Final Cut Pro workstations, two Autodesk Smoke systems and several Adobe After Effects systems, in addition to ingest and logging stations. FOX Sports staff also had seamless access to the network inside MetLife Stadium as well. The Bexel/Thumbwar team configured two mirrored systems so that editors could work from either location without missing a beat.
Litepanels fixtures used on set during pre-game festivities and the Super Bowl itself included the Sola 6 Fresnel fixtures.
Bexel’s Engineered Services and Solutions (ESS) also provided engineering, fiber management services and a variety of equipment for ESPN and NFL Films during the run-up to Super Bowl. Justin Paulk, Fiber Business Segment manager for Bexel ESS, said that FOX Sports utilised 73 individual fiber-optic cables, and NFL Films used 96 fiber cables.
For all the teleprompter needs, Autoscript was at the studio positions at MetLife and Times Square. Vinten 750 heads and Quattro pedestals, provided by Game Creek, were at each site, while Sachtler systems using Anton/Bauer batteries were deployed by mobile crews to capture viewers’ opinions out in Times Square.